I have tried eating mindfulness – a way to eat with respectful attention to my food and body. I begin by sitting quietly in silence, having placed the food in front of me.
At the moment, I am blessed to have two pieces of homemade, wholemeal cake before me. Mindfully, I reflect on the source of the food. Then, there is the love and kindness of Eva, my wife, in taking her time to bake such nutritious cake. My mindfulness grows. I think of the ingredients in the wholemeal cake – the flour, rolled oats, raw sugar, dried fruit (raisins), cloves, cinnamon, shredded coconut, baking soda, olive oil, and water.
My mindfulness continues as I think of the dozens of men and women who laboured to plant, harvest, transport, and market the wheat, oats, sugar cane, grapes, coconut, and olives. I suddenly become mindful of their kindness toward a stranger (me), all helping to make it possible for me to enjoy this piece of wholemeal cake. Surely this is also an awakening of bodhicitta within me?
I continue to be still for a few moments, looking carefully at the food. I’m becoming aware of my own feelings of hunger – it has been a long morning; I’ve completed several important tasks, but haven’t eaten as of yet.
I feel fully present and I begin to eat slowly. In a relaxed way, I’m becoming aware of each aspect of eating – being aware of lifting the food to my mouth, of chewing, of tasting, and of swallowing. I’m not feeling hurried right now. I’m trying to take my time to taste each bite carefully – being aware of the flavours, the textures, and the feelings that arise with each mouthful.
Gradually, however, I’m noticing that I’m starting to feel full – even though my tongue and eyes want more!
“Even one meal eaten this way is a wonderful reminder of a mindful life” writes western Buddhist author Jack Kornfield.
P.S. Perhaps the foregoing description sounds idyllic. However, it definitely is not a “piece of cake”! I haven’t yet reached eating a full meal in such a mindful manner – this piece of cake that was before me, perhaps was eaten mindfully. But even then, it was hard to practice. I found other thoughts coming into my mind continually – what I have to do next, this afternoon, tomorrow, and so forth. I console myself: “practice makes perfect”.
Source: I am grateful for Jack Kornfield’s book, Buddha’s Little Instruction Book (Chicago: Bantam, 1994), and his chapter entitled “An Eating Meditation – When You Eat, Just Eat”, pp. 135-136.
© 2013 by Alexander Michael Peck