One morning a week – Saturdays to be precise – I eat my morning’s breakfast un-distracted and un-hurried.
With the exception of this one meal per week, I eat accompanied by such things as music and/or my laptop.
On Saturday morning’s, however, I take the time to connect more deeply with the bounty of food I am so richly afforded.
I eat in silence, with posture upright and solid.
I inhale the many causes and conditions that factored into its being with every bite.
And in the span of my meal time, I am transported around the globe.
Then, with senses in full bloom, I re-embody myself and come back home, fresh and new.
An image I put together as a handout for my class on the topic of mindful eating
As part of the mindfulness and meditation series I’ve been teaching our next class will be, in part, about mindful eating. So once again I’m taking to my blog to write out some ideas as to what I’ll say in regards to this topic.
Just as there is no one right way to be mindful about anything really, there is no one right way to practice mindful eating. In any given moment we have the opportunity to direct our attention in a myriad of different ways that would all classify under the umbrella of mindfulness (hence the image I put together above :). For instance, when we sit down to eat a meal we could practice mindfulness by looking deeply into the food in front of us. We could become inquisitive and ponder questions about where our food came from and do our best to imagine all of the causes and conditions that went into its creation. We could use our mindfulness to get in touch with the energy inherit in our food and how it wouldn’t be possible without the sun, soil, and water. We could tune into our senses taking special notice of the textures, smells, taste, feel, and colors. We could connect with our gratitude for the gift of food we are afforded, knowing that many people will not have enough to eat today. Or we could practice by slowing down and putting our undivided attention on the process of eating, instead of hurrying through a meal or multi-tasking while eating. And if we spent our meal time simply practicing to enjoy our food and have a pleasant time while eating that would certainly be a wonderful way to water our seeds of mindfulness as well.
I posted this on our sangha’s facebook page (Be Here Now Community) this morning and thought I’d share it here too:
Before every meal I take a moment to give thanks. Even if it’s only a brief inner moment. I give thanks to the earth, the sky, and all the hard work that went into the food: the workers, time, energy, resources, transportation, infrastructure. To honor the precious gift of food I give thanks. In respect to the millions of people across the world that will not have enough to eat today I give thanks. To not take for granted the bounty that I am afforded I give thanks.
Lately there has been some discussion (and some elevated emotions) over the OI (Order of Interbeing) listserve about vegetarianism, veganism, and the impacts of eating meat on the environment. While it’s true that Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) has asked his students to reduce their meat consumption by half and to consider cutting out meat entirely because of the damaging effects the livestock industry has on global warming and it’s also true that our tradition’s monasteries have switched to a vegan diet I’m not so sure the most pressing question involved here is whether or not to eat meat or to become vegan. For me, the question here is what can I do to potentially help support an environmentally sustainable food system?
For those of us not who are not familiar with the terms: A vegetarian is someone who does not eat beef, chicken, seafood or fish and a vegan is someone who, in addition to not eating meat, also does not eat dairy, eggs, or other animal byproducts, such as honey.