In our busy lives, it can be hard to find time to practice mindfulness and to embrace the stillness and peace in each day.
One way to counteract that is to incorporate a practice into something that we do multiple times everyday (or try to). What is it? Eating! Often we don’t think much about this experience, but if we expand our awareness and open our senses to observation, we can learn a tremendous amount. We can practice this exercise using all five senses, but for the sake of brevity, we’re going to experience mindful eating through taste. Here’s how to do it.
To begin, find something small and edible that will help you practice seeing the object with new eyes. This can be a cracker, a piece of fruit, a vegetable, a piece of candy, or any small edible item that you have easily available. You’ll need to hold it in your hands, so while there are many tasty things to try, I would advise against things like…pie (even though pie is great).
Got your food? Great! (For the purposes of this post, I’m going to go with a kumquat, which I find endlessly fascinating). Get comfortable and experience this meditation and with openness, curiosity, and even a little humor, too. (You didn’t get the pie, did you?)
Here we go!
First, take a few deep breaths to ground and center yourself.
Now, imagine you have just arrived from outer space and you have never seen this kumquat before. You are going to examine it very carefully, taking it in one sense at a time.
Let’s just hold the kumquat for a moment between your thumb and index finger, but don’t move it. Just imagine putting the fruit in your mouth, but don’t do it just yet. What do you notice?
Do you notice any changes in your body? For example, do you notice your mouth watering? What do you notice in your mind? Do you notice any specific thoughts? Do you notice any feelings? For example, frustration, patience, or boredom. There’s no right or wrong, simply be aware of the details of your experience.
Now I invite you to bring the kumquat (or whatever you chose) to your mouth and put it on your tongue, but don’t bite down yet. Just feel it in your mouth. What is this experience like? What do you notice in terms of physical sensations, thoughts, or emotions?
Now bite down once. What happens? What do you notice? Notice the urge to continue chewing, but don’t just yet. It’s just an urge you can notice. You don’t have to give in to the urge at this moment, but rather you can play with this experience and decide for yourself when to finish chewing this bite.
When you are ready, you can slowly begin to chew. Make sure to chew very slowly as you notice all the details of the experience of chewing.
Notice the flavor that is unleashed on your tongue as the taste buds are activated. And notice any feelings of pleasantness and wanting more that may arise as you take in the experience of tasting.
Continue chewing until there’s nothing left of the kumquat, paying attention to the experience of chewing and swallowing and all the detailed sensations you are noticing.
As you finish eating, you can bring your awareness to many other details about this piece of food. For example, where this kumquat came from and how it was grown. The people who harvested the fruits, packed and shipped them to the facility where they were processed. The truck drivers who transported them to the market. The people who unloaded them and placed them in the produce section of the market. The person who went to the market to purchase it and bring it home, the cashier. And finally you, the person aware of eating and appreciating this little piece of fruit. It takes many many people, and the earth, sun, and water to make this experience possible. Taking in this system of interconnection can help us appreciate food in a very different way.
Feel free to share your experience in the comments, and just for fun here’s a recipe for easy kumquat jam.