In this plate of food, I see the entire universe supporting my existence.
– Zen blessing from Thich Nhat Hanh
As I eat this salad, I move between mindfulness and mindlessness. The difference is profound. In fact when my attention leaves the act of eating, I’m essentially unaware that I’m eating. Then the attention drifts back, a flavour, a bite, and drifts again. I’m only partially attentive, at best. Eating a salad is automatic for me, so I can drift through the experience and be more productive by doing other things at the same time. Sound familiar?
Eating with intention and attention is quite different. A flood of rich sensations, a present mind, an effortless simplicity. The salad is transformed to one of the most enjoyable things I’ll do today. Bursting flavours, enjoyable sounds, crisp textures, movement of tongue and teeth. It’s fantastic!
Next time you sit down to a meal, or a snack, try this practice:
Close your eyes, breath into presence.
Notice sensations in the body, and feelings about your meal.
Take a bite with your eyes closed.
Pause between mouthful’s, slow down.
When natural distractions occur, effortlessly return step 1.
Benefits of mindful eating include improved dietary choices, portion control, healthy weight-loss, and the treatment of eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, disordered eating, and orthorexia, which is the obsession with eating healthy foods.
For more information you might join us for Charlotte Thaarup’s Mindfulness Retreat this May.
Though the goal is not perfect uninterrupted attention through your meals, you’ll find an enjoyable shift when you choose to have micro-mindful moments during your meals. Whether listening to a friend, or enjoying a smell, you always have a choice to be present.