eating with mindfulness is the one of the most tricky thing in the meditation practice. i can say it from my personal experience. i have tried it many times and it is not so easy as it is talked about.
before going further, lets discuss a bit about mindfullness. one of the most important teaching of gautam buddha is mindfullness. that is to do things with awareness, alertness or with consciousness. in simple words, it means don’t do things unconsciously. your attention should be in the present moment while doing things. you should be ‘here-now’ or totally present in the moment. which means your mind is not there in the past or in the future but totally in the present moment.
now the tricky part is that when you are totally there in the present moment then mind is not there. if your attention is totally in the present moment then its like death for the mind and life for your soul. because when mind is not there, then you are there. so mind tries every trick of the trade to deflect your attention to past or future. so one of the biggest trouble in eating food mindfully is your very mind.
now coming back to the topic of eating mindfully. eating food with mindfulness means your mind is not thinking about past or future while eating food or you are totally present in the moment. you can take it either way.
in another words, eating food mindfully means you eat food in no-mind state or there are no thoughts in the mind. remember, here it does not mean that you are absent. only thoughts are absent but you are totally present in the act.
it is like watching yourself eating food. most of your bodily process like breathing, listening, eating food etc are mechanical. your body can do it on its own. so let your body eat the food and you bring your total consciousness to see your body eating food. remember, you are a watcher. you are not the body, not the mind but the witnessing consciousness. so be a witness to your body eating food. that is see your hands picking up food, putting in your mouth, chewing the food and the food sensation you experience.
when you do this then you will realize that you are eating food slowly and in a relax way. you are chewing the food well. you will be tasting the food for the first time like its aroma, its warmth and the different flavors of the dish.
but before you can do this, you need to develop your inner center of witnessing. otherwise your mind will take your attention to some other topic. as i said before mind is against mindfulness. so its takes long practice but is worth the effort. there are many health, emotional and psychological benefits of mindful eating so do give it a try.
1. it helps to dedicate separate time for eating food. so that you can devote your totality to it. this way you will not be in a hurry.
2. while eating food, if your attention goes to some past or future event then bring it back towards the present moment. initially it will happen lot of times. so don’t get frustrated. instead witness the emotion of frustration as well.
3. don’t choose the food. choice belongs to the mind. enlightened master j.krishnamurti has described meditation as “choiceless awareness”. so whatever food is prepared for the day. eat it with awareness. if your mind does not like it then be a witness of your mood as well.
4. eating with gratefulness is a good attitude. because the food is nourishing your body and mind. moreover, how many people have the luxury to eat good food with leisure. so be thankful to the god for giving such an oppurtunity to nourish your body, mind and soul.
5. have reverence for mindful eating. see it a spiritual practice. in old times, indians used to take eating as an spiritual experience. because food is divine. without it you can exist. so have respect for food and the mother earth which is giving you this food. never waste food. only take that much food in your plate which is enough to feed you. don’t over eat and also don’t eat when you are not hungry.
6. don’t talk while eating food. avoid any distraction like watching TV, cinema, surfing internet, reading books or talking with others. you have to give your 100 percent to being mindful while eating. in tantra, eating is done in privacy and is not a social activity.
7. no need to be serious. instead make it a joyful experience. enjoy the whole process otherwise you might get bored initially. you need to persist until your witnessing becomes stronger.
8. try to be watchful of your daily actions also like walking, talking and listening. you can also read this post –listening as meditation.
9. eating food with hands also helps in the subtle way. but its not nesseccary.
10. make meditation your top priority in life. be regular in your meditation practice.
11. living a relaxing life helps a lot. because you are not hurried all the time and thus you can witness your activities easily.