Taking Time to Eat: With Mindfulness
Life can be busy and sometimes it can be difficult to fit in life’s essentials, let alone to take time to notice the wonders of life and to take pleasure in the small joys that life has to offer.
In a hectic life it is easy to forgo enjoyment in a bid to cram everything in, but sometimes we need to savour the froth on the cappuccino or enjoy the texture of a summer strawberry. How often do we just devour our meals in an autonomous fashion? Using food as just a fuel for the body and eating it as quickly as possible deprives us of any joy or pleasure from the process of eating.
Mindless eating not only denies you the joy of enjoying food, but can lead to digestive problems, weight gain and emotional eating. It’s our birthright to derive pleasure from the food we eat, it is one of our basic and natural instincts. Examples of mindless eating include: multi-tasking whilst eating, eating past being full and eating in accordance with our emotions i.e. in response to stress, depression, sadness or despondency.
Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking. It means being present and focused on the food and drink we are consuming; paying attention to the colours, aromas, textures, flavours, temperatures, and even the sounds of the food. Whilst also paying attention to the experience of the body; noting when we feel hungry; satisfaction and when our hunger or thirst is quenched.
To start eating mindfully you could try some of these simple exercises:
- Pour yourself your favourite drink, whether this is a hot cup of tea, an ice cold juice or a frothy cappuccino doesn’t matter. When you get your drink just, sit with it and enjoy stillness thinking of nothing else but the smell, temperature and taste of your beverage. Take your first few sips in silence and just focus on the sensation of drinking.
- Try not to multi-task during mealtimes. Turn off televisions, radios and mobile phones and just try to enjoy the meal, taking your time without rushing to get on with the next task on your list.
- At family meals, you might ask everyone to eat in silence for the first five minutes. This can be hard with a young family, but it can really help to set the stage for mindful eating and perhaps you could ask your children to take part in some mindful eating practices such as considering where the fruit, vegetables etc., on their plate has come from.
- Try eating one meal a week mindfully, alone and in silence. This can be difficult to implement but even if it is sitting and eating an apple alone in silence it is a practice that is well worth adopting.
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