17 February 2011

Mealtime Meditations

Have you ever thought of mealtimes as a good time for meditation?  Perhaps sitting at a table in a busy, noisy, crowded canteen or queuing at a fast food counter in a brief lunch break does not sound all that relaxing.  Chopping half a dozen onions to make a large pot of soup may not be the most meditative of times in your view, either.

Food can be rushed.  Food can be fattening.  Food can be extravagant.  Food can be in short supply.  A hot meal will go cold if you sit looking at it for far too long.  Bread goes stale.  Fruit rots.  Chocolate will melt if you leave it in the sun.

Have you ever meditated on the processes of your alimentary canal?  You may focus your attention on a taste.  You may focus your attention on a texture.  You may focus your attention on the sounds your alimentary canal makes.  You may prefer to focus your attention on your stomach, or your liver, or even your gall bladder (if you still possess the latter).

Meditation - focusing attention - can often be a healthy pursuit, as long as we focus our attention on the right things, at the right time, in the right place.  Meditating on the prevalence of road traffic is useful if you are driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, or being a pedestrian.  Meditating on food is suitable for mealtimes, and when buying or growing food.

You may wish to meditation on a question.  Here are a few examples: Why should I chose a healthy diet?  How much food is enough?  What are the health benefits of organic foods?  What are the environmental benefits of organic foods?  What are the environmental benefits of local foods?  What are the economic benefits of local foods?  Is it time to water the vegetable patch?

A very useful meditation, especially if you are trying to have a slimmer figure, is to focus on your hands rather than your mouth.  If there is food in your mouth, just make sure your hands are empty.  Put down the food are holding if you are chewing.  Put down the knife, fork, spoon or chopsticks.  Sit back from the plate or dish.

Just enjoy the taste in your mouth until it properly subsides before lifting more food towards your face.  And enjoy the smell, the texture, and the experience of just having something delicious to eat. Is that a worthwhile mealtime meditation?

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