Mindful Mealtimes: Food and Meditation Intersect
Mindful eating is a perfect compliment to your meditative practice
Posted November 10, 2013
During the day we tend to become so busy that we’re not 100% present with “what is” and we miss out on wonderful experiences that happen all the time. Eating is one of these amazing experiences that we often do without paying any attention to it.
So what if we made a conscious effort during mealtimes?
When you eat slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully, you’ll begin to experience food differently than you ever have. Eating with presence and being 100% aware of what it is you’re eating is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself everyday.
Mindless Eating Example
Think back on a holiday when someone prepared a wonderful meal for you and you scoffed it down so quickly that you didn’t truly appreciate all the work and care that was put into what you ate.
Perhaps your mother, grandmother or someone else who cared about you invested hours and even days preparing the meal. Once the meal was ready, however, you didn’t take the opportunity to enjoy it because of you were, for whatever reason, in a hurry. For example, you may have been rushing because you wanted to continue with whatever celebration was taking place. As a result, you didn’t realize until later how wonderful or how much thought and love was put into that dinner created especially for you.
Unfortunately, it’s not just during the holidays that we do this. On a daily basis, we become consumed with what has to get done and where we have to be next. We place our order in a drive-thru so that we can fulfill our immediate need to quiet our stomachs. Sometimes we even eat without realizing what or how much we’ve consumed.
I encourage you to do the exact opposite of what I call “mindless eating.” I recommend you begin “mindful eating” instead. Invest time to realize how good food can taste, how relaxing it can be to take the time to sit and be in the moment with your food.
Take a bite of whatever it is that you are eating and feel it in your mouth. Taste it and recognize the immense flavors you’re sensing. Food and mealtimes are so much better when you slow down and eat mindfully.
If you meditate, mindful eating is the perfect way to continue your meditative practice. After all, meditation is about following your breath and being present in the moment. Using these techniques while eating will allow you to appreciate what you put in your body. It will give you a pleasurable experience because you have taken the time to enjoy each and every little part of what is feeding your body. On the other hand, when you rush through mealtimes, you miss out on the pleasures that food offers us.
Why we often suffer through life so much is because we miss out on what’s around us. We don’t savor the moments, savor the view, or savor the life. It’s the same way with eating. Enjoy being with food, tasting it, and slowing down to find pleasure in the entire experience.
This means that you need to set aside time for eating, which may require a shift in how you’ve eaten in the past. When you don’t rush or multi-task, you’ll realize that mealtimes can be a wonderful experience. A fantastic side effect of this is that you will find you have given your stomach the chance to realize it’s full. In fact, you may find yourself eating less because slowing down gives your body time to signal fullness to your brain.
I think you will be surprised at how much better your experience with food will be when you approach eating as you approach meditating. You will find enjoyment in taking the time to relax and eat slowly. You’ll look forward to being able to experience the beauty mealtime’s offer. Your body will repay you with satisfaction and peace of mind that comes from living mindfully.