Last weekend I was on a silent retreat at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Western Massachusetts. At each meal the table has a simple note card reminding the guest of mindful eating; this involves taking a few breaths before eating, having gratitude for all that brought the food to this point, noticing the colors of the food, and savoring the smells. Then, the retreatant is reminded to taste the food, enjoy the silence of eating or the conversations with others, and taking time to be in the moment.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who created his Mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR), defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” A form of meditation, it s practiced in everyday life by simply paying attention to the moments we are in, noticing the present, being aware and bringing focus to one thing at one time. In the case of eating the food that nourishes our body, mindful eating calls us to notice our food and enjoy it.
You may recall that I once wrote about how incredulous Marco was when he found out that I was eating my lunch while driving in the car to a work meeting (click here). We live in a fast-paced world where we grab food on the go. The T.V. serves as an accompaniment to many a meal. Lunch is munched while we catch up on emails, Facebook, or the latest news.
Our family used to play a game to see who could be the last to finish eating. It was a fun way to try to have Matteo slow down a little. He alway won! It was one way to remind us all to enjoy the taste of our food and our time together at the dinner table. Now that Matteo’s a teenager we really need to bring back this game. . . I don’t think he’d “win” any longer!
Mindfulness is a natural fit with the bella vita Italian life, but it can also be brought to every experience in life. It is practiced when we talk a walk, while at work, in moments of stress, as we prepare for sleep, and especially when we take time for meditation. One of my favorite new apps for the phone is buddhify. The tag line is “modern mindfulness for wherever you are.” It includes over 80 different mindfulness exercises for just about every experience in our daily lives.
Enjoy your food with mindful eating! I leave you with a few photos from my Kripalu experience.