Eating is an integral part of all of our lives. We eat when we celebrate at parties and weddings, we eat when we mourn at funerals and we eat to sustain our lives everyday. It can accompany an emotion, bring back a memory, heighten a moment or ruin the day. This daily ritual sustains us, feeding our physical bodies and our energetic bodies with its nutrients. It’s part of what keeps us all alive.
When we are intentional about the food we put into our bodies and attentive to the needs of our bodies — fresh water, organic fruits and vegetables — and our souls — high-vibrating food, energetically-charged meals — we can begin to practice mindful eating. Here are a few exercises you can incorporate into your meals to make them more mindful.
1. Have a Seat
Raise your hand if you regularly enjoy meals while you’re driving, standing up at the kitchen counter or sitting on the couch in front of the TV. For your next meal, try sitting down at your table with no distractions while you eat. When we sit down with our food, it allows our bodies to relax and brings our focus to what’s right in front of us. It creates a moment for us to stop the literal and figurative movement of our day and just be with ourselves and what we are doing.
Before every Sacred Table dining experience, we have a brief guided meditation that utilizes the power of the breath to naturally calm the body, heighten awareness and recenter the mind before we lead our guests into the meal. Taking this time to deepen the breath can increase the sensitivity of our senses and can even enhance the taste and flavor of meal when done with intention. It’s not necessary to meditate before each meal to experience the benefits, though. Just try taking three deep, gentle breaths in through the nose and blowing out through the mouth before you next meal and see how it feels.
3. Practice Presence
A busy schedule and a mind that’s constantly running can make it difficult to relax long enough to actually enjoy a meal — no matter how good it is. If you practice yoga or meditate regularly, you understand the importance of practicing presence and how it can help alleviate anxiety, stress and even some symptoms related to depression. When we practice presence while eating, we are gently bringing our attention to the experience and all of its sensations — the smells, the hues, the way each bite feels in your mouth and how your body responds to being thoughtfully nourished.
4. Be Deliberate
Many times we don’t pay special attention to the details in our meals because we’re tired, we’re rushing or we have just become so used to the routine of making something to eat. Bring back the magic of cooking, eating and dining by creating an experience for yourself. Buy fresh ingredients and make your favorite dish from scratch while you admire the colors and textures transforming over heat, resting in the dehydrator or solidifying in the fridge. Make space for yourself at the table, light a candle, bring your awareness to your plate and palate, and be deliberate about savoring each part of your meal.
5. Give Thanks
Gratitude is a powerfully transformative energy. Feel grateful for the meal in front of you, no matter what it is, can change your mood and perspective in a major way. Thank the planet for providing fresh food and ingredients in abundance. Thank the hands that picked the food from the earth for you to enjoy. Be grateful that you were able to purchase food to nourish yourself and had the ability to prepare it for yourself. Thank you body for digesting the food with ease with the divine intelligence to use the nutrients as needed. Taking the time to acknowledge how many things to be thankful for can turn a normal meal into a sacred feast.