By Faith Brandt
posted with permission from: The Yoga Connection
I am eating lunch with my computer before me, creating some chaotic and mindless dance between the two. Reading, fork to mouth, searching, chomping, scrolling, chewing, deleting, fork to mouth, typing, swallowing … And, it is that one moment when I do become mindful, look down into my now empty bowl and am shocked and confused to find my delicious food has mysteriously disappeared!
We eat and watch TV. Eat and read a book. We combine eating with driving, walking, working, listening to music, balancing our checkbook, checking our email – the list is endless. And there are many reasons why we consume ourselves with these distractions while eating, one of them being our belief that we have to multi-task in order to get through our daily list of things to do. It seems almost ridiculous to stop working on our daily list to sit down and solely pay attention to the delicious meal before us.
At this point, you may be wondering, “why on earth would I want to give up my comfortable, conditioned eating pattern?” Well, how about overeating? If we are busying ourselves with other activities while we are eating, there is a good chance we will ignore our body’s satiety signals. Satiety signals are much more subtle than the discomfort associated with overeating. By the time we slow down enough to check in with our body, if we do at all, we may find we have eaten more than our body really needed. The result: unnecessary fuel we will not be using, stored in our body as fat. Too many practices like this can result in additional weight gain and the possible dis-ease associated with being overweight.
If that’s not enough to make you consider giving up partnering eating with other activities, consider this: when we make the choice to eat in a less than mindful way, we are neglecting ourselves from one of the most joyful experiences life has to offer. Perhaps we have been relating to food in this way for such a long time, we do not even realize the subtle and sometimes profound pleasures we’ve been missing. Trust me, there are some pretty magnificent experiences available to us when we slow down and commit to being fully present with our food.
The practice of eating in a state of mindfulness is an exciting inquiry that can be surprisingly insightful and delightful! The challenging aspect is accepting the invitation to be with our food and fully participate in the experience. How do I accept the invitation, you might be wondering? Personally, I am a big fan of not overwhelming myself when trying something new or making a change in my life and maybe, you feel the same way. So, let’s start with a small and seemingly effortless practice, and if your curiosity is piqued, you can increase the amount of time in which you practice. For now, experience the following practice one time and observe for yourself the gifts of eating with mindfulness.
You can use any food for this practice. I enjoy using raisins due to the unique taste and texture, but you can also use Craisins, a cracker, or a strawberry. Sit at the table with several raisins on your plate. Take a moment to close your eyes and sense your body’s contact with your chair, becoming aware of your hands as they relax on your lap. Take a few breaths. Open your eyes and pause as you notice any thoughts that arise as you observe the food on your plate. As you use your sense of sight, notice if you are drawn to any raisin in particular. When you decide on the raisin you would like to eat, slowly move your hand to the raisin and pick it up. Drawing the raisin closer to you, continue to observe it on a deeper level now. Notice how the raisin feels between your fi ngers or in your palm. Smell it. What do you notice? Is your mouth watering at the anticipation of eating it? What thoughts arise for you? When you are ready, place the raisin in your mouth. Without chewing it, roll it around in your mouth and explore the raisin with your tongue. Can you already sense some fl avor? When you are ready, begin to slowly chew the raisin. Did you begin chewing towards the front or back of your mouth? How does your mouth respond to the flavor? What do you taste? How is the texture changing? Do you want to rush this? Stay with it as long as you can, savoring each moment and when you are ready, swallow. Congratulations! You did it!
So, what did you learn? Were there any surprises? What did you like? Was there anything you didn’t enjoy? How do you feel now? Do you want more raisins? Slowing down and really taking the time to be present while you are eating may feel unfamiliar and challenging when your investigation begins. But, if you practice once a day, with even one bite of food, you will be expanding your path of mindfulness which just might offer you a more joyous life and fulfi lling life. I would love to hear about your experience. Please send me an email with questions or to share your insights!
Faith Brandt is a Nationally Certifi ed Counselor who is passionate about supporting others as they transform into their truest selves. She specializes in teaching people a variety of mindfulness techniques which can increase ones fulfillment of everyday life. Faith finds joy in encouraging clients to have a healthy association with food and eating. She has been a certified yoga teacher since the year 2000 and delights in supporting students to deepen their positive relationship with body,mind, breath, and spirit. She can be REACHEDAT SOARINGSPIRITCOUNSELING.COM.