By Maggie Lears
Maggie will facilitate Eating with a Spiritual Compass: Mindful Eating on Saturday, February 11, 9:30 am-3:30 pm. Learn more and register.
Creating two simple habits can significantly improve your daily life. All you need to do is mindfully practice two everyday activities – walking and eating.
Mindful walking is being consciously aware of moving in your environment. Some of the benefits of walking mindfully are deepening your connection to the present moment, to your body, and to nature. It naturally slows you down physically and mentally allows your mind to quiet. Mindful walking also builds mental muscle by increasing your ability to concentrate and not be distracted by noises in the surroundings.
So notice your posture, feel the earth beneath your feet, take a few deep belly breaths and begin. With every step, be aware of the gentle heel-to-toe rhythm of each foot as it touches the ground. Take in as much of the periphery as possible. Listen to the sounds of life.
Now that you walk mindfully, let’s look at eating. How can you find what is sublime in your everyday experience with food? Many have forgotten that food is a way that we are both socially and spiritually nourished.
Mindful eating is about experiencing food more intensely – especially the pleasure of it. It’s about paying close attention to the sensation of each morsel, eating slowly and relishing each bite. It involves all the senses – e.g. colors, textures, scents, tastes, even the sounds of drinking and eating. Mindful eating is a way to rediscover one of the most pleasurable things we do as humans.
In addition, research shows that eating with an awareness of the mystery of life in food and connecting with it via mindfulness actually enhances your physical health.
Here is a simple summary on getting started – the 5 S’s:
- Sit Down – This focuses attention.
- Savor the Food – Look at the beauty of the food. Say Grace – thank the animals, plants and people who provided this food. When you eat, just eat (no TV, no Internet.)
- S-l-o-w D-o-w-n – Chew each small bite 20 times. Pace, don’t race.
- Simplify – Place healthy foods where you can see them.
- Smile – Put down the utensil and smile between bites (a little Buddha smile).
So why not begin today? Walk mindfully to work or to the store. Spend at least the first five minutes of one meal everyday eating mindfully. Be present. Congratulations, you are now on your way to greater emotional, mental, and physical health.