30 Day Growth Experiment: Mindful Eating…Complete!

30 Day Growth Experiment: Mindful Eating…Complete!

For 30 days, I challenged myself to eating every meal mindfully.  As you may have guessed, this journey began on January 1, and let me tell you, heinz site, it was a phenomenal way to begin the new year.  Now,  you might be asking yourself, “What is mindful eating?”  I will tell you!  Or at least, share with you some of the general guidelines I followed, largely inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh as well as Leo Babuata and his ZenHabits blog.

  1. Sit down when eating.
  2. Spend time admiring the food.  Appreciate the color and texture, the smell of the food.
  3. Take yourself on an imaginative adventure, envisioning the trip across the world the food traveled along arrive in front of you.  See the seed of the orange being planted with worn and withered hands.  Then feel the rain pouring down to it grow and soak in the warm rays of the sun.  Imagine all the water and sunlight that contributed to bringing your food into full existence in your presence.  See the hands and the faces of all the people who helped nurture your food and deliver it to you, so that you could purchase it.  Also, appreciate your own work that enabled you to acquire the food.  If you refrigerated your food, microwaved it, blended it onto a delicious smoothie, or chopped it up, even if you are eating with a spoon, spend a moment to marvel at all the technology that allows you to consume the food just where you are, the way you are.  Soak in the wonder.
  4. This step I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh in Peace is Every Step.  Say to yourself, either aloud or mentally, “Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out, I smile.”  And smile!  Do this three times.  Consciously breathe and relax the body.
  5. I also expressed gratitude before every bite.  As I raise a spoonful of avocado before my mouth, I hold it up and proclaim, “I am grateful for this abundance.  Hallelujah.” Sometimes I would sing these words, or just say it silently to myself.  I found that during this step, I’d often experience that warm fuzzy feeling in my heart which would stay with me throughout the meal.  Doing this before every bite slows the pace of eating quite a bit, however it greatly enhances the enjoyment.
  6. Finally, if I remembered, I would spend a moment to see the food as the physical sun, shining brightly, so full of radiant energy.  As I chewed, I would close my eyes and imagine the sun in my mouth, filling my body with nourishment and light.
  7. Finally, finally, occasionally, before eating, I’d think about all my family, friends, teachers, strangers – many of the people who intersect in my life, and I’d take a moment to bow to them, and thank them for allowing me to eat this food.   In so much as they contributed to me being present Here & Now, I am grateful.

As you might have guessed, this is a rather slow process of eating, especially when compared to the way we generally eat.  I’ve had a friend since high school who always ate very slowly, and he used to comment on not understanding why the rest of us all ate so fast.  He would talk about savoring his food.  Being a productivity nut at the time, I thought he was foolish for taking so much time to eat.  After all, didn’t he have things to do, places to go, and people to see?  Only now do I realize how I was the fool, and he the wise man.

Eating is one of the most sacred acts we participate in, and if we’re lucky, we do this on a daily basis.  Many people don’t have any food at all to enjoy, yet we tend to forget this fact when we nearly swallow our food whole or eat it while doing eight different things like watching television, talking on the phone, or watching television.  Yes, I said watching television twice because that’s often times the culprit for the mindless behavior of our times.

Enjoying our food is very important to living a healthy life.  It is one of the simplest yet richest pleasures.  Far too easily we take our food for granted and not cherish it for its miraculous nature.  Just the other day I sat at the kitchen table, laughing at the fact that a pineapple sat patiently at the center of the table.  Would someone mind telling me how the heck a pineapple can arrive on a kitchen table in Cincinnati, Ohio?!?

If nothing else, food is a wondrous testament to the interconnectedness of our global community.  Food travels around the world to arrive so humbly on our dinner plates, and to think we forget to appreciate it.  So many labors of love weave together to bring food to us, and we’d all enjoy our food so much more of we spent an extra minute connecting with its journey across time and space.

Perhaps it’s our jealousy for food that holds us back from cherishing it.  I mean…I’d love to sunbathe for a couple months in Mexico and effortlessly coast to any one of many wonderful places around the world – all for the Greater Good, too.

Food willingly and humbly serves the Greater Good.  Sometimes it may offer a bit of resistance, like if you’ve ever tried to slowly peel an orange or banana, you know the feeling of resistance I speak of.  But really, I just think that’s food playing the game of life with us, enjoying it’s time and making sounds like we all do, ever so subtlety communicating to us that it too is Life, Consciousness.

Long-Term Impact of the 30-Day Test

  1. Newfound appreciation, reverence, and awareness for food and the marvelous interconnectedness of all Life.
  2. Newfound appreciation, reverence, and awareness for food and the marvelous interconnectedness of all Life.
  3. Newfound appreciation, reverence, and awareness for food and the marvelous interconnectedness of all Life.

Food is just one of many gateways that may open our consciousness up to the wonderful connectivity of this world.  Look to your food.  As Thich Nhat Hanh wrote,

“The Shining Red Sun is my Heart.”

The sun is in your food.  Water is in your food.  Hands and hearts are in your food.  Eat with an awareness of this and allow yourself to experience deeper peace and gratitude for so many of the treasures in life we too easily may be taking for granted.

p.s. Just this morning, as I was eating a deliciously ripened banana, singing my usual, “I am grateful for this abundance.  Hallelujah,” for the first time I opened up my expression of gratitude far beyond just the banana.  I extended the gratitude to the environment, to the noises I heard, to the peace I experienced, to the space I occupied, and to time.  I expressed gratitude with open hands now, instead of directing it towards just the banana, and the gratitude resonated much more deeply.  I felt more fully connected with all the gifts of the present moment.  Not just for the banana or just for the banana’s awesome journey and all the beautiful people who contributed to bringing the banana before me – as incredible and marvelous as that all is – the gratitude expanded to everything Present.


5 thoughts on “30 Day Growth Experiment: Mindful Eating…Complete!

  1. Very Epicurean, haha….. 😉
    But great call to awareness of the simple beauties of the created world…
    You marvel because you see these reflections… wait till you see the pure Light… you will be dazzled!

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