Since the 1960s, meditation has been taking the Western world by storm, with more Americans practicing some form of meditation every year. Although many are intrigued by the supposed benefits of stress reduction and overall enhancement of psychological well-being, the idea of setting aside time to “do nothing” can be a hard pill to swallow within the 40-hour work week. Fortunately, it is possible to multi-task when it comes to practicing meditation. The time that has already been carved out for breakfast is the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate the consciousness with a mindful meal.
Mindfulness is a popular meditation technique that consists of being completely absorbed in the present moment. Mindful meditation can be achieved during mealtime when a person makes a point to focus solely on the food. With practice, a group of people can share a balanced meal and experience mindfulness together. If you’ve never had a mindful meal, it may be best to begin with a mindful snack by yourself. Thich Nhat Hanh, ambassador for mindfulness in the West, recommends practicing meditation with an orange. Before you even pick up the orange, close your eyes and focus completely on your breathing for a few minutes. When you feel that you are fully present, pick up the orange and think only about each breath you take and the orange in your hand. Think about its shape and texture, and about how it came to be the ripe piece of fruit you are holding. Try to widen your awareness of the orange by thinking about where you purchased it from, the farmer who picked it off a tree and put it in the truck that brought it there, the sunshine and rain that caused the orange to grow on that tree, the soil that rooted the tree. Keep expanding until you are fully and solely aware of the orange. Now take off the peel and take a bite, completely conscious of the sweet taste of each drop of juice in your mouth. Savor each mindful bite, one at a time, in silence, until you are finished.
With some practice, one can eat (or do) anything mindfully. You can do it at breakfast to prepare for the day, at lunch to re-focus your energy, or at dinner to relax after a hard day’s work. No matter what time of day, mindfulness is an easy way to practice meditation for those who don’t think they have the time to do so.
More detailed tutorials are available on Youtube. An interesting piece on mindful eating from Thich Nhat Hanh himself can be found at www.chetday.com/mindfuleating.htm.