day 74 – Eating Mindfully

Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The food we eat comes to us from nature, from living beings and from the cosmos.  To touch it with our mindfulness is to show our gratitude.”  Hanh was born in Vietnam in 1926.  He is an engaged Buddhist who teaches peaceful activism, social commitment to helping others and meditation.

I don’t care if you are downing green smoothies, on a liquid fast, chomping and putting away fast food, vegan raw, high protein, any number of commercial diets, counting calories, carbs or fat grams carefully… being able to give thanks and appreciate what we put into our bodily system is being aware in a meditative way and enhances your digestion, the understanding of self and your connection with the Universe.

There is a great book called Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food by Jan Chozen Bays, MD.  In it, she describes our emotional hang-ups with food and how to give our attention to it in a clear-eyed manner.  She includes a CD of meditations and the read is quite relaxing as well.

Do you eat to soothe yourself?  Out of boredom? To procrastinate? To numb your feelings? To socialize and entertain with? To reward or punish yourself?  JOIN the club!

Instead of fueling up with food, we make it the Prima Donna of our lives.  We let it take center stage and revolve around it.  We watch hours of Food TV Network.  We bow and honor to chefs.  Ok, maybe that is just me.

I believe food is cultural and significant, but I have also mismanaged and gone ADD on it.  You may be a balanced individual, but I still strive to maintain decorum and sanity, daily.

Another aspect of this teaching is the spiritual angle; giving grace or at least acknowledging in a practical way, the chain of events that led the food in front of you to end up there is being in the moment and being thankful you are even alive.

I DO love food.  Instead of living to eat, I need to eat in order to live.  Is my companion at lunch more important or where and what we eat?

As I forever fine tune myself and ask the Universe to speak to me, this flagged and highlighted publication of mine from 2009, shouted out to me today from a bookshelf it was hiding in and asked me to reconsider reading it.

If you are a yoga student of mine, you may remember our mindful meditation with a raisin.  It was from John Kabat-Zinn who wrote the foreword in this book.

What are you really hungry for? If it is truly a nutritional need, then feed yourself.  I know I have abused my rations in order to avoid something or to fill up a hole.  And sometimes, just to savor and satisfy my taste buds.

Compassion, my friend, compassion for self.  Yet…“Understanding is the very foundation of love. And looking deeply is the basic practice.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

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