I am so focused on my work that I often show great disrespect for my body and the food I eat. I miss out on the spiritual riches of eating mindfully. My attitude around most meal times is "Let's just get this over with so I can get back to my computer and things that matter." For a long time, Mary Ann and I ate at the dining room table beginning the meals with grace and adding a touch of beauty with candles. But over the years, we abandoned that practice. Now we have gotten into the bad habit of eating dinner in the living room while watching television.
We have vowed to start a new regimen where eating dinner is an important part of our spiritual path. We agree with the Zen masters who all say: "When eating just eat." It is imperative that we take the time to enjoy and savor the fresh food in front of us. It deserves our full presence and our delight in the taste, the smells, the textures, and the colors of the meal. Each bite, each sip is exquisite if we give our attention to it.
For our body's sake we need to eat slowly, refusing to give in to the hurry sickness of our culture.
"Eating with awareness brings us into the moment, helps us understand what it means to be alive, and connects us to the mystery and the source of all thing," Donald Altman reminds us in Art of the Inner Meal. He sees prayer as the appetizer for meals and mindfulness as the main course of a sacred way of eating. These attitudes and practices can bring us to a fresh appreciation of the connections between foods, moods, energy, health, and physical well-being.
In her book Mindful Eating, Jan Chozen Bays suggests practices that can enhance our experiences: Find ways of pausing when you eat; chew your food thoroughly before swallowing; eat small portions; know that food changes mood and use it as good medicine; remember the energy that you are deriving from this meal; be grateful for the food and for the efforts of all who brought it to you.
The real purpose of eating is to enhance the ultimate well-being of mind, body and spirit. Hearing this good news, I am sure that my body is very pleased!