Recently I have been trying my hand again at meditation. I have attempted a formal practice many times throughout the years but it has never stuck. My friend Deb found a class at a wonderful place we have right here just outside of Newburyport, the Insight Meditation Center. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it another shot—even if it still didn’t take hold.
Has it taken hold? Well, we just started on another five week rotation of the beginner class so something is happening. Have I become a meditation fanatic (kind of like I have become with the juice)? No, not at all. In fact after going once a week for 7 weeks now I think I have sat on my own about four times. But, have I become more mindful in my day to day life? Yes! Having a weekly reminder to be mindful has been extremely helpful to me, and one place I really practice it is when eating.
I have talked about this before but it bears repeating—being mindful while eating, in other words being aware of what you are doing, is I think one of the most important things in keeping with a healthy “diet”. If you don’t slow down and pay attention, even if you are eating the most purportedly healthy thing on the planet, your body is going to have a hard time assimilating the nutrients, it won’t register when it is full, and you are going to be looking for something more to eat.
Another benefit of this is it gives you a great opportunity to practice being in the moment—something I think we all need plenty of practice with! We all eat, everyday, usually at least three times. Imagine really taking that time for yourself. If you are alone, instead of eating at your desk or in front of the TV, try sitting down at the table and just eating. Smell the aroma; notice the different textures and tastes. Really enjoy your food! And for God’s sake if for some reason you are not enjoying it or don’t like it, don’t eat it—find something else! Learn to become aware of when you are getting full and stop before you are too full or stuffed. And on that note let’s take it a step further—start to become more aware of when you are hungry. Be mindful of that and give your body nourishment when it asks for it.
As for my formal practice, I can say that I’m working on it. Often I feel like I am more in mediation than meditation—trying to talk my crazy head into, well, shutting up! But as my teacher says, all I have to do is wake up in that moment. So the next time you are having a meal or a snack, or even drinking a juice!, stay awake while you are doing it. And if you find yourself getting distracted or falling into the habit energy of eating really fast, wake up in that moment and slow down. Come back to the experience of eating and nourishing yourself with food. It’s a wonderful thing to feel nourished—we should be aware that it is happening!