How Mindful Eating and Prayer Is a Recipe For Happiness

“Life is a great and wondrous mystery, and the only thing we know that we have for sure is what is right here and right now. Don’t miss it.” Leo Buscaglia

Mindfulness Meditation: Eat Pray Love

Tradition can be a beautiful thing, but like most things in life over time we tend to distort and eventually forget the intended meaning and reasoning behind the things we do.

I can remember when I was young, a delicious dinner accompanied with a prayer was our family’s daily ritual. But as I got older, my family and society seemed to speed along, and the time and thoughtfulness that went into each family dinner was slowly lost.

We live in a fast food society. We want and do everything with a sense of being hurried. Were always thinking about moving on to the next thing without really appreciating and living the present moment.

Today I want to comment on what was the original significance of prayer, of saying grace at each meal. Breaking bread with one’s fellow-man is one of our oldest social traditions and can be a great tool in helping one become a more conscious being.

The original significance as I have come to understand it, was that prayer was used to help one get into the right attitude on the onset of eating a meal. This set the tone to remind us to eat in a conscious way, which is to say being present while you eat. This was a deliberate daily exercise in consciousness.

This was the time to let go of your day’s worries and just focus on ‘being’. A time of surrendering to what ‘is’ and in this space enjoy one’s daily bread. Nourishing the body and soul. I think this is a tradition that has been lost in modern times. Most people who still say their prayers only do it because of habit, it’s done in a mechanical way.

Preparing Your Food Mindfully

To me ‘soul food’ means food that was made by someone who was mainly being Present to what they where doing. They took great care and consequently put their love (presence) into it. You can taste the difference. No wonder I miss my moms food so much.

Next time you cook do all the preparation mindfully. Be in your body. When you cut the tomato, feel each of your body’s movements. Feel the waters cool sensation on your skin as you wash your veggies.  Don’t rush, set the table with deliberate care. Be alert, don’t think, just feel. Let it become an active meditation.

The Prayer Before The Meal

Before sitting down for your meal, if possible make sure you turn off the TV. Turn off your phone. Let this be a sacred time.

Your prayer can be anything you want. For me a simple mental ‘thanks’ and just concentrating on the feeling of being grateful for my meal is enough. Take a moment to acknowledge that you exist in this very moment.

Eating Mindfully

Close your eyes. Focus your attention on the body, feel the energy within your body. Where does your energy go?..can you feel the energy simultaneously in all parts of the body? Don’t think, just feel it. The more attention you give it, the more alive it will feel. By going deeply in your inner energy body, you merge with it. The distinction of observer and observed merge into one. Your perception of inner and outer also dissolves. Your aware of being aware.

Your body is always grounded in the moment. You can get in your body by paying attention to your breath. Focus your attention of the air moving in and out of your body. Feel your abdomen expanding and contracting. Remain with the feeling. I like to visualize the air coming into my body as white light and then holding the breath in for several seconds and feel it permeate all the cells in my body. If my whole body starts tingling I keep my attention on that sensation and enjoy it for a while.

This daily ritual is designed to bring you back to your essential self, to the real you. To ground you to the now. It’s a time to stop thinking and retreat from the outer world and connect with your inner self.

When you begin to eat, your nagging mind may start to remind you of the days events. Just observe your thoughts, emotions, fears and see them as guests while you eat. Don’t give them any attention, this only serves to energize them. They may still be there, just don’t mind them, let them remain in the background.

Bring your self  back to the act of eating. Look at your food on your fork or spoon simply, don’t label it, but notice everything you can about it. Notice the texture, the color, the aroma.

You may realize you never really observe the food you eat, because normally you’re in such a rush that you just stuff your face. You may start to see the aesthetic beauty of your food. While keeping some of your attention  in the sensation of your inner energy body notice how your food has it’s own intensity of aliveness.

Now consciously bring the food to your mouth. Feel your arms movements, feel your mouth opening, now let the food just sit on your tongue for a second. Can you feel your taste buds becoming intensely alive and mingling with your food? Now, chew in a slow conscious way, bring your attention to the chewing. Doesn’t it feel marvelous?

Other tips:

  • Use chop sticks. If you are not used to eating with chop sticks, this is an excellent way to eat because it requires more conscious control. When I first moved to Asia, I had a hard time eating most of my meals with chop sticks, now I prefer them.
  • If you normally use your right hand, try using your left.
  • Be aware of all your physical movements while you eat. Never forget “who” is actually eating.
  • Feel the pressure of your body on your chair. Lightly noticing any physical sensation can help bring you back to the moment.

As soon as you sense your full, stop eating. You have had enough. Now try to remain self-aware as much as you can for the remainder of your day.

Mindful Living

Let this become a daily ritual. You will see that it will slowly change your life. While eating your also cultivating an inner silence that will permeate your daily activities. In time you will notice an undercurrent of peace in your life if you treat each meal as an exercise in increasing your self-awareness.

You will feel more natural. You will feel ‘You’. Our modern lifestyles have made us unnatural in my view. Everyone yearns for that simple feeling of naturalness. Let your next meal be your opportunity to stop and smell the…{insert favorite food}….

Thank you for reading my article, if you have any of your own insights please share them below in the comments. If you enjoyed this post please “Like” our page on Facebook. Peace.

 

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9 Responses to How Mindful Eating and Prayer Is a Recipe For Happiness

  1. Dan Garner says:

    Thank you for such a nice article. So true. Nourishment and sustanance should be taken mindfully.
    When my wife and I were raising our children we all sat and ate together. I thought it was normal, but they commented on how no one else did this anymore. How strange. A meal is more than just stuffing your face, it should be a celebration of life. It should be appreciated with gratefulness.

    Thanks,
    Dan @ ZenPresence
    Dan Garner´s last blog post ..Caring

  2. Chuckles says:

    Ivan,

    How many meals have we shared together? Hundreds? Thousands? How many of those were at Wendy’s or Chipotle, Fazoli’s or wherever. As we have grown older and hopefully wiser the production, preparation and consumption of food has taken a much larger role in my consciousness. Starting a garden the last couple years has made the reality of food production more visible to me. Each tomato and edamame requires time and energy and effort. No doubt I will get better at cultivating, but it has been eye opening to realize that food don’t grow on trees to make an oxymoron of the situation.

    Next, I consider cooking. While living in Morocco I had a diet that consisted of mainly tuna sandwiches and pomegranates. Since living in Japan I have taken my culinary skills up several notches. It is no insignificant personal accomplishment to try something new and immediately reap the rewards. Baking, broiling, basting, bbq’ing- they are all traditions of humanity which I am now helping to carry on. All of it even better if you are cooking for more than one, as cooking is caring.

    I’m still a gluttonous gobbler once it is time to throw down, but I am with you on chopsticks. Rather than forks which stab indiscriminately, a set of chopsticks, regardless of your proficiency requires either a ton of brain power or a tiny bit, to approach each bite individually rather than as a whole.

    What you been eating lately? Cooking yourself? Anything new in the cookbook to report?

    Thanks for tackling this topic, and I hope you have more to say on it in later posts.

  3. Robyn says:

    Ivan, I eat so fast I sometimes forgot what I just ate! Haha. Thanks for this article…very timely.

  4. Ka says:

    Eating is where I have the most difficulty in being mindful. I become completely unconscious and I wake up at the end of the meal with an empty plate. One trick that I found works for me is, for every bite I take, I put down the cutlery, chew, swallow and then take again the cutlery in my hands for the next bite, and so on. I eat less since using these technique because I found that I usually eat too much (but I am very thin).

    Also, on this topic, I’ve developed a free Android app called Conscious that tries to help people increase their mindfulness by giving small mindfulness challenges every day. Every morning, people accept the new challenge, do it throughout the day and then complete it in the evening and fill in some info about how it all went. And you can see what other people’s experiences were.

    Anyway, if it sounds interesting, check it out at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.makanstudios.conscious

  5. Ka says:

    Yes. The app is my own personal creation and I have big plans with it :)

    I’ve sent you my contact details using the Contact form.

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