Great emphasis is often placed on what we eat. However how we eat is equally important. Consumption of the same meal in different ways produces different effects. The mindful eating method creates a healthy satisfying experience.
Eating is a pleasurable intimate activity that merits full attention.
Mindful eating is one of the many branches of a spirit tree that may be created through dedication to meditation. These branches manifest as positive habits and special talents, the extent and fruitfulness of which depend on the level of devotion to spiritual practice.
Mindful eating involves chewing slowly while giving full attention to the food. It is being appreciative of everything on the plate. Mindfulness meditation gradually improves daily behaviour including the way we eat. Mindful eating is a positive side effect of mindful meditation
The unhealthy blend of fast food and fast eating has become routine. People on rigid nine to five schedules swiftly shovel food down their throats in order to be on time for the next meeting. Many modern families have moved dinner from the table to merge eating with other activities. Instead of making the meal a main event they eat and text, eat while watching television or listening to radio and eat while surfing the internet. When eating is combined with these activities it takes away from the appreciation of the food and brings unnecessary emotions to the plate.
Mindful eating has positive psychological and physical benefits.
The nature of things may be transformed by the power of thought and emotions. Consequently your thoughts and emotions while you eat influences how the food affects you. Cramming a healthy organic meal down your throat while yelling at the referee on TV for serving your favourite footballer a red card creates an unhealthy effect regardless of how healthy the meal is.
If you are familiar with Dr. Masaru Emoto’s rice emotion experiments you will realize that intention, emotions, thoughts and words can create physical changes. In his experiment rice was placed in three glass beakers for one month. Each day he said thank you to one, you’re an idiot to the second and ignored the third. The rice that was being thanked did not spoil while the other two became discoloured and foul smelling especially the one that was ignored. The experiment has been duplicated by people all over the world and has produced the same results.
The experiment teaches us important lessons that may be applied to food:
It’s not only about what we eat but how we eat it.
Our attitude towards food is just as or even more important than the type of food.
When we thank our food and pay attention to it the positive effects will amplify.
When we ignore our food by eating while engaging in another activity or complain that we don’t like it we create a negative effect. This is an example of mental alchemy at work, something many use but few realize and as a result they often use it against themselves.
Fast eaters consume more while mindful eaters have a greater appreciation of food and are happy with less.
Digestion begins in the mouth, mindful eating promotes proper mastication which makes digestion easier.
Slow down and notice everything in the plate so you may experience the full spectrum of flavours on your taste buds.
For an even more wholesome healing experience you may say something kind to your food and body before eating. This is similar to saying grace.
This mindfulness applied to eating may be applied to all activities in your life. Driving every day to work can be a boring routine or an opportunity to be appreciative of the different vehicles, the people crossing, the sounds and many other things that you might not notice. In mindfulness you shift from the destination and appreciate the journey.
In the western world many people have formed an unhealthy compulsive relationship with food. Eating has become an addiction and means of escape. Compulsive eaters fantasize about how they wish things were. What makes matters worse is that compulsive eaters don’t consume healthy foods. Mindful eating is fulfilling and it helps to break abusive compulsive relationships with food because it promotes the habit of living in the moment.
No longer will you eat to escape reality.
The Realm of Hungry Ghosts is one of the many worlds spoken about in Buddhism. People are transformed into ghostly creatures and sent to this world after death as punishment for being evil. These ghosts have big bellies and very small mouths. They are only able to take food in tiny amounts. The creatures are constantly hungry and frustrated because their bellies are never full. The small opening that significantly limits their intake appears to be compulsory mindful eating.
The Realm of Hungry Ghosts is symbolic of the greed many people exercise daily. The materialistic, compulsive consuming, celebrity worship, obesity and vanity culture is sometimes described as the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by monks and spiritual teachers.