Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Eating

Mindfulness Meditation Increases our Awareness

 

Some years ago I attended a Mindfulness Day that was run by a local Buddhist group. The day comprised of several talks and various different mindfulness exercises. I have to admit that it was the first time I had been introduced to "tree hugging" and also the first time I had been made aware of the exchange of gases between humans and the plant kingdom. The fact that plants take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen, whereas humans/animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. This was certainly something I became very mindful of during that day and has stayed with me ever since.

 

One of the exercises we did was during our shared lunch, when we were asked to eat mindfully, thinking about the food we were eating and where it had been grown, and thinking about the people who might have been responsible for tending it and harvesting it. I found it a very powerful exercise in mindfulness meditation.

So often we eat when we are either in a hurry or we are deep in conversation with other people. We rarely give time to thinking about the food we are eating, and are certainly not mindful of where it came from and how it started its life. This sort of mindfulness meditation is also something that you can do when you are preparing the food for your meal. Take time to concentrate on what you are doing and think about the food you are preparing. Be present and try not to think of everything but what you are doing.

Whilst researching for interesting meditation articles I found this on Psych Central

THE SLOWEST RAISIN YOU’LL EVER EAT

Our instructor slowly took us through steps that closely resembled the following:

1. Look at the raisin. Notice its curves and its wrinkles. Pay attention to its color. See any differences in texture? Are there any bits of sugar tucked into the folds?

2. Feel the raisin. Is it soft? Smooth? How does it feel between your fingers? Is it warm? Cool?

3. Smell the raisin. What does it remind you of? How would you describe its scent? If you can’t smell it, puncture it a little bit with your fingernail and see if that brings out the scent. Notice the scent.

4. Put the raisin in your mouth (but don’t chew yet!). Feel it with your tongue. Feel the texture of the raisin. Can you taste anything yet? Let it sit in your mouth for a few more moments. Does it feel soft? Does it taste sweet?

5. Now, finally, chew the raisin — but slowly. Be present for the entire process. Feel the flavor unfold with each bite. Don’t swallow right away — let the taste linger in your mouth. Notice how the texture of the raisin changes as you chew.

Then, finally, we swallowed.

It had never taken me that long to finish eating a single raisin (and unless I repeat this activity, I doubt it ever will). But it still taught me a good lesson: food is an experience. It’s a process. Sure, the goal is to fill my belly and give me energy to get through the day. But it’s not just fuel. There’s more to food than that. It’s part of a ritual that I could (and should) take notice of on a daily basis.

The ritual of eating can bring us out of our worries about the past and the future — and into the present moment.

Although this is something that I would personally find quite hard to do (in fact it does ring a few bells – so I think I may have done something similar in the past)  it is an excellent exercise in mindfulness meditation.

Mindful eating is simply about heightening your awareness of the food that goes into your mouth. It is an attempt to stop taking things for granted, and a way of practicing being completely present to what you are doing.

Why not try it. Please leave a comment and let me know how you get on.

 

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