How often do you really taste and appreciate what you eat? Recently, I tried mindfulness eating and it literally blew my mind. I became so engrossed in so many subtle ways, perhaps similar to the sensation of flavours, a baby experiences for the first time. I can understand how the fashion of mindfulness-everything can have you very mindfully rolling your eyes right now but if you’re a foodie or bored to death of the never ending new fad diets, tune in for a second and let me tickle your buds.
In Nov-Dec 2014, I attended a Yoga Therapy Foundations Course with Yoga Therapy Australia (an excellent course btw which I’ll blog about shortly). On day one, Saraswathi, our lecturer, stated she practices mindfulness-eating and would appreciate if we respected her wish to eat alone during mealtimes, unless of course we also practiced. My western mind immediately jumped a mindful jango – be calm Matt, it’s only day one! Minding my thoughts, I became intrigued and tried eating in silence by myself once or twice. Unfortunately, I was mindful of everything but eating and missed the point.
Fast forward five weeks, I try again. This time I sit down to a home-made breakfast of various nuts, summer fresh and dried fruits, a sprinkle of oats, dob of yogurt and splash of coco milk. Jango aside, I say a form of grace, simply thankful for the food before me and the people in its process to my plate. I take a mouthful, close my eyes to remove distraction and chew. I concentrate. Slowly, I become aware of the textures… identify the flavours… imagine myself absorbing the essence of each. I’m engrossed, excited and I observe I’m auto’ shovelling another spoonful in, before I finish the preceding mouthful, so ease that habit in-between and put the spoon down. Before I realise, I pick up the utensil again, and again control my greed, patiently waiting until the last morsel of food swallowed before the next. I tune out the outside and in the inside; I let go of everything outside of my mouth and descend into a tasteful high. I spontaneously moan, surprising myself from dribbling no doubt and smile. My mind shifts slightly to another level of awareness; omg is that my tongue?! I marvel at the animal I find inside my mouth, scurrying, directing, moving and moistening the food around and around, with a speed and dexterity I would be unable to will, if I was consciously doing so. I begin to feel overwhelmed, intoxicated by the sensation of taste, so much so, that I open my eyes to check the portion remaining; I’d eaten only half the bowl!
Then I got it, the experience of mindful eating, on so many levels. I urge you to try it, maybe not on a first date and not every night of the week with the family but often enough. It’s an excellent way to take yourself out for dinner!
As a side note…
When deciding which photos to add to this post, I became aware of a juxtaposition. Consider the wide shot above; for effect, to portray the consuming nature of “mindfulness eating”, my head is completely inside a watermelon. The external world is oblivious when practicing mindfulness eating and yet I’d chosen a beautiful location for the shoot. But of course, right?
Our idyllic surroundings are perhaps superficial, when we consider what lies beneath or behind. Now consider the brain; not the prettiest organ to look at, but venture beyond the darkness and the amount of beauty it can imagine and create is perhaps infinite. The common expression comes to mind, “What’s on your mind?”, should we instead ask or at least follow-up with, “What’s in your mind?” to encourage our journey within.
Mindfulness, what does it mean for you?