Fun with Mindful Eating
My first birthday...
Free! A mindfulness practice you can do at least 3x a day!
Maybe you’re good at self-discipline and easily stick to a regular mindfulness practice, like meditation, prayer or yoga. I am not. However I can always find Excellent Excuses. I suspect I’m not alone.
But here’s the thing. We have an easy mindfulness opportunity that’s in our very faces +/- three times a day! It’s called “eating.” We can survive without meditating, but not without eating. As I write in The Cherry Pie Paradox, why not use our meals and snacks as a daily mindfulness practice?
Mindful eating has four major components:
The body—tuning into the physical sensations of hunger and fullness
The environment—which helps or hinders focus and pleasure
The food itself as a sensory experience—its flavor, texture, color, sound, etc. AND
The mental yama-yama— the stories, beliefs, attitudes and judgments about the food or our bodies we’ve accrued over the years
That’s a lot to attend to!
And yet all of this is going on every time we eat, mostly below our awareness. If you can just pay more attention to one of these components as you eat, you’ll have the beginnings of a powerful mindfulness practice that will expand your pleasure in eating, improve your connection to your body, develop more discriminating taste buds, and my favorite part: awaken you to your own mental yama-yama.
Observe your own yama-yama...
For example, you think a piece of bread is just a piece of bread. Ha!
Just for fun, get out some paper and a pen, then try this brain-dump exercise:
Imagine a piece of bread in front of you. Now scribble onto the paper every thought, judgment, belief, attitude, association you have about your imaginary piece of bread—negative, positive, stupid, silly. Include memories of bread from your past. Include hearsay—what others (experts, friends, your mom, etc) think, believe, etc about a piece of bread. Possible recipes involving bread? Anything that your imaginary piece of bread brings to mind.
Believe it or not, your brain brings all those old associations to every food you eat (or choose not to eat). They can enhance or detract from your pleasure and affect your choice to eat more or less of it. Next time you have an actual piece of bread in front of you, remember this exercise. What do you notice? I'd to hear about it...