I woke up today wondering about things that we take for granted. My list is long and exhaustive. Sometimes, we get lost in the business of life that we do not take the time to appreciate the simplest pleasure in our everyday life. How many times do you eat per day? Eating is one of the activities that we do without being aware of it. Eating has become as mechanical as chewing gum. Many of us do not take the time to appreciate what we eat, to realise how grateful we are that we even have something to eat. I eat most of my meals in front of a screen, either at work or at home.
If happiness in life comes from doing more of what you love, how about enhancing the experience of those activities that we do very often. Have you ever heard of eating meditation?
Eating meditation is a simple concept that teaches us to connect and appreciate what we have in front of us. It forces us to really look at what we are eating, contemplate it, find what makes it unique and then wake up all our senses. Rather than scoffing a strawberry, start a discovery journey by touching, smelling and tasting it. You can even go on a broader scale by following the journey from the food’s conception to your lips. There is a lot to be grateful of here, from the farmer who planted the first seed, the architect who designed the buildings where that particular strawberry was stored, the supermarket and those who work there, your job for providing the money to buy it, and even, ironically, the rain.
Eating meditation will teach you to get out of your own world and worries, and realise how connected you are in the universe. You might never meet the farmer responsible for this strawberry, but you can still thank him for allowing this moment in the present. The meditation also provides an opportunity to deeply connect with your own personal sensation. You might be feeling silly for doing this exercise, or simply hungry, disgusted or tired. Allow yourself to acknowledge your emotional state without judging it. When you finally eat your strawberry, take your time to notice the flavour and your own emotional response once again. Chew very slowly, letting your body connects with this experience.
According to Hsin-Yi Cohen, “Many of those who have tried eating meditation have been surprised by their experiences, from deep relaxation to insights into their needs, as they learn to become genuinely sensitive to themselves and the world around them”. What is even more amazing about eating meditation, you only need to practice it for 5 minutes per meal or just even a single bite. This can easily be fitted around your busy life. Hsin-Yi Cohen’s article contains simple step-by-step instructions on how to practice eating mediation.
The first time I read about eating meditation I was very sceptical. Do I really have time in my life to stop and look at bread? Chocolate is the only piece of food where I genuinely take my time. Not only do I always smell it but I patiently savour all the sensations in my mouth before swallowing it. The feeling I get from it is immense. What if this feeling can be replicated, on a higher scale, many times a day? What if through my meals, I can get a quick break from rushing around, a renewed sense of fulfilment and quietness in my mind? This is my challenge. I now dare you to join me on this journey to enlightenment through eating.
If you still need convincing, check this out. It takes 30 days to form a habit. Your brain will then associate food with the emotions that you get from it, and that’s without having to go through all the steps of meditation. What do you have to lose? Give it a go and let me know how you get on.