The theme for this month’s practice is SLOWING DOWN. Last week we tuned into the wisdom of the body, slowing down enough to hear the subtle messages our bodies are always sending us. This week we turn our attention toward an activity we all participate in frequently: eating.
What does mealtime look like for you? For many of us, it takes place on the go or in front of a screen. Our busyness often spills over into mealtime, bringing a sense of dis-ease and discomfort in our bodies, which can have a cascading effect on our lives. How, where, what, and with whom we eat affects our overall health. The following practice asks us to SLOW DOWN and pause in conscious contemplation as we cultivate a sense of gratitude for our meals. This simple act can transform the way you relate to the food you eat—and in turn transform your life.
This 10-minute practice will bring a sense of ease and purpose to mealtime. Choose one meal a day at which to do it. In the spirit of slowing down, allow mealtime to take place at a table, free from distractions and screens—or enjoy the social aspect of sharing a meal with another person. Choose whole foods that are nourishing to your body, mind, and spirit if you can.
- Before you sit down to eat, mindfully wash your hands. This is not only for the purpose of sanitation but also to mark a conscious transition from other activities to mealtime.
- Sit down at the table and take one minute to settle in and breathe. Notice how your body feels, any sounds or smells in the room, and the aroma of the food in front of you. Allow yourself to be present.
Bring your hands into prayer position at your heart center. If you have a prayer or blessing from your own tradition or one that you connect to, say that now. Or repeat this Buddhist mealtime blessing:
Earth, water, fire, air, and space combine to make this food.
Numberless beings gave their lives and labors that we may eat.
May we be nourished that we may nourish life.
- Take a deep inhalation followed by a long exhalation as you briefly contemplate the meal before you. Where did it come from? What did it take in the form of lives, energy, and labor to reach your plate? Send gratitude out into the world on your breath as you begin to enjoy your meal, tasting and savoring each bite, as each bite in turn nourishes you and your life.
Repeat this practice daily to grow your awareness of your relationship with mealtime and to cultivate gratitude for the long chain of actions and beings that brings food to your plate.
We'd love to hear from you: What was your experience with this practice? What did you notice?
And stay tuned for next week, when we'll nourish relaxation in the body through restorative yoga.