“When you eat mindfully, you are in touch with your food because your mind is not distracted. It is not thinking about other things. It is attending to eating … Knowing what you are doing while you are doing it is the essence of mindfulness.”
– Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. in Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness
Eating meditation is an old and very natural practice to help awaken a clear mind. It is a piece of a greater mindfulness practice that seeks to allow us to be awake and responsive throughout our lives.
When you eat, take care to experience your food. Make eating a special mindful activity. Give your food and your eating of it your full attention. Slow down. Give thanks for the food and those people and processes that brought it to you.
Develop a habit of observing your food for a few moments before you eat and expressing simple gratitude for it. Eating a piece of fruit, we may enjoy its color and shape, its texture, the way the juice reflects the light. We can be thankful that the earth has nurtured the parent plant, that someone has tended the plant, picked the fruit, and brought it to us. We may be thankful for the bees that pollinated the blossom and the sun that ripened it. We may be thankful for the water that washed it and the air that carries its scent.
As you bring the food to your mouth, feel your body. Notice the movements that carry the food to your mouth, and how you receive it there. Be aware of your presence in time and space.
As we eat, we experience taste. Allow yourself to experience the fullness of taste. Notice the feelings in your mouth and jaw as you take a bite. Notice what your tongue does. Notice how you chew. Feel the texture of your food. Try chewing a little longer than you usually do, since most of us swallow too early.
Some of us eat just to fill the void. When we gulp our food to attain the feeling of fullness, we are eating to ease the pain of emptiness. Wouldn’t it be better to eat with full enjoyment and to nourish the body?
Most of us carry with us a surplus of fat that can sustain us when food is scarce, but we live in a part of the world where food is never scarce. When we eat past the point of fullness, the surplus grows. Wouldn’t it be wise to eat just to the point of satisfaction and then stop, even if there is food left on the plate?
Notice your thoughts as you eat. Be aware of your cravings and habits. Instead of responding automatically to your desire for more, listen to your body. What do you need?
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Develop the practice of mindful eating and you will enjoy your food more, and will find peace in something you do every day.
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