So often we eat mindlessly. We stuff food into our mouths while working on the computer, watching TV, or when we’re on the run. Become aware when you eat by slowing down and fully experiencing all of the elements of food. Take some time to explore each of the following during your next meal and notice the difference.
Sight: Look at your food and appreciate the colors and placement on your plate. Imagine how it grew to get there, and all the care it received to be here, to nourish you.
Smell: Bring the food up to your nose. Tune in to its aroma. Describe it with words.
Physiological reaction: Before your food enters your mouth, notice that saliva is being generated in your mouth. There is a mind/body phenomenon in how the senses respond to the anticipation of food being eaten.
Touch: Touch a forkful to your lips and feel the sensations. Allow your tongue to receive the food.
Taste: After becoming aware of the food in your mouth, start biting into it very slowly. Then begin to chew. Notice the automatic way the tongue decides which side of the mouth it’s going to chew on. Give all your attention to your mouth and take a few bites. Stop to experience what’s happening. Verbalize the explosion of taste you are experiencing. Is it sweet or sour or juicy? There are hundreds of words to describe the experience of tasting.
Texture: As you continue to chew, the tastes change, as does the consistency. At a certain point you will become aware of the texture of the food because the taste has mostly passed. If the texture causes aversion, you may want to swallow it, but try to keep it in your mouth.
Swallow: Stay with the impatience and the inborn impulse to swallow. Do not swallow until you detect the impulse to do so. Once you swallow, imagine that bite traveling into the stomach, feel your whole body and acknowledge that your body now has exactly one bite more of nourishment.
Breath: Next, pause for a moment or two, and experience your breath. Bring the same quality of attention to the breath that you gave to seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting the food.
Silence: Be silent. By this point, you have meditated upon that bite. Add more mindfulness to all aspects of your life. Observe, be present, and life will become more vibrant and livelier!
You can use this approach with another person, moving the food close to their mouth, but not all the way into their mouth. You can even massage their lips with the food to see what happens. The main thing is to have fun, learn something and understand yourself better. Mindful eating will do wonders to nourish your body and improve your health.
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