Mindfulness of eating: Eating mindfully
The bread in my hand is the body of the cosmos.Thich Nhat Hanh
Having the opportunity to sit and enjoy wonderful food is something precious, something not everyone has. Many people in the world are hungry. Eating mindfully, we know that we are fortunate. We feel compassion for all those who have no food to eat or are without friends and family to share their meal.
Appreciating our food
We can begin to be mindful as we serve our food. Serving ourselves, we realise that many elements, such as the rain, sunshine, earth, air and love, have all come together to form this wonderful meal. In fact, through this food we see that the entire universe is supporting our existence.
We should take our time as we eat, chewing each mouthful and appreciating the textures and flavours. Let us enjoy every morsel of our food and the presence of anyone eating with us. Let us establish ourselves in the present moment, eating in such a way that solidity, joy and peace are possible during the time of eating.
Eating mindfully in silence
To deepen our practice of mindful eating we can sometimes eat in silence. Eating in silence allows us to see the preciousness of the food and our friends. We can also see our close relationship with the Earth and all species. Every vegetable, every drop of water, every piece of bread contains in it the life of our whole planet and the sun. With each bite of food, we can taste the meaning and value of our life.
Upon finishing our meal, we take a few moments to notice that we have finished, that our plate or bowl is now empty and our hunger is satisfied. Gratitude fills us as we realise how fortunate we are to have had this nourishing food to eat, supporting us on the path of love and understanding.
The Global Context
Eating mindfully gives us all a chance to reflect deeply on what we buy and what we eat. What we buy and eat can contribute to climate change, or it can help stop it. Eating is a chance to nourish our own body with the wonders of the cosmos, knowing that we are not destroying the earth by doing so.
Reading the Five Contemplations before we eat a meal helps us sense the entire universe supporting our existence.
Try this simple exercise to experience mindful eating right now. Use an orange or a grape or a raisin if you like.
The Five Contemplations
This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work.
May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.
May we recognize and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed and learn to eat with moderation.
May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet.
We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, build our Sangha, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.
Sit in a quiet place and hold the tangerine in the palm of your hand.
Look at it and look at it while breathing in and out, so that the tangerine becomes a reality.
See the tangerine tree, see the blossom on the tree.
See the rain and sun passing through, see the tiny fruit form.
The fruit changes from green to yellow…
And grows into a beautiful tangerine.
The tangerine is really a miracle, a wonder of life.
Look at the tangerine deeply and slowly begin to peel it.
Smell the wonderful scent of the peel.
Break off a segment of the tanerine and put it into your mouth.
Taste its wonderful juice.
The tangerine tree has taken three, four or six months to make this tangerine for you.
If you are not present now, the tangerine is not present for you.
Enjoy the tangerine.