Monday, November 21, 2011

Eating Meditation

Everyday we eat. Sometimes we think about it. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes we savor, sometimes we tune it all out in front of the TV or computer. Like breathing or walking, this is an activity that can be brought to a new level by a simple meditation. As a holiday that centers around food, as well as family & friends, approaches, I thought today would be a great day to share a simple eating meditation. Pick one of your next meals, probably one you eat alone for your first try, and see what new feelings and clarity comes through!
  • To start eating meditation, place your food in front of you and sit quietly.
  • Reflect on the source of the food and recite any simple prayer of gratitude that comes naturally. It can be as simple as "I am thankful for this meal in front of me." Then be still for a few moments.
  • Look carefully at the food. Be aware of your body and feelings of hunger, how your feel about putting this particular food into your body at this moment.
  • Notice the smell of the food and any pleasant feeling associated with it.
  • Initially chew more slowly than usual. Notice the burst of flavor that comes after you take the first bite. Keep chewing slowly. What happens to the taste sensations as you keep chewing?
  • Be aware of the intention to swallow the food. Also, notice if there is an intention to take more food even though you might still have some in your mouth.
  • Notice if you feel hurried and try not to even load your fork or chopsticks until you are done swallowing the last bite.
  • Stay aware of the taste and what happens to it as you keep chewing. You can label the sensations as salty, sweet, sour, hot, and so on.
  • Also, notice if there is any difference in the intensity of the taste depending upon whether you are breathing in or breathing out. You don't have to remember all that, mainly remember 1) chew well, 2) taste, 3) notice swallowing 4) and remember to Pause 5) and Breathe for a moment before the next bite. Continue with this same mindful attention to everything you eat until you come to the end.
  • As you near the end, pay attention to the signals from your stomach and your tongue & eyes as you approach the point of being full. Notice how these signals can be at odds with each other. Stomach may say you are full while the tongue and eyes want more.
  • Finally, after your last bite, slide your plate a few inches away and just sit very still for 5 to 10 minutes. Notice your breath going in and out your nostrils. Feel the energy or subtle vibrations in your stomach, head, arms or hands. Now you should be able to really feel how that food makes you feel short term.
Take in any emotions, learn from them, and carry on with your day. Happy eating!

Have you ever done an eating meditation?

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