Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mindful Eating

I was reading at the Tricycle community today and came across a discussion about mindful eating. It sounded interesting and I am going to take up the challenge for one week, one day at a time. There are guidelines. And if you really want to know more you can go to the discussion to read it in it's completeness.

The author is: Jan Chozen Bays is a Zen teacher in the White Plum lineage (successors of Taizan Maezumi Roshi). She is a pediatrician specializing in child abuse, and author of numerous medical articles and two books. She and her husband, Hogen Bays, serve as co-abbots of Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon.

Here is an overview of the process: "Mindful eating is not reading about mindful eating. It is not reading while eating. It is doing the practice of mindful eating. Mindful eating is paying full attention to the events of the internal and external environment, without criticism or judgement, while eating and drinking. Because we are so used to multitasking and to going unconscious while we eat, it is difficult at first to pay full attention to what is happening, say, in the mouth, in a completely continuous manner.

Just like any other form of meditation, mindful eating involves bringing the mind’s attention to the sensations of eating, then discovering that the mind has wandered off. We find that we are eating while opening our e-mail or while fantasizing about the weekend. We notice this and once again bring the mind back to real time, to the actual sensations of eating. We practice this over and over, until it becomes a wholesome habit...."

This assessment is the foundation of mindful eating and will serve you the rest of the week. At least three times today, as you begin eating, practice assessing the seven hungers.

You begin with Stomach Hunger. How hungry is the stomach? Is it completely empty or partially full? How much food does the stomach want you to eat? Now turn to Body or Cellular Hunger. This is more subtle. If your cells could talk, what would they ask you to eat? Citrus? Starch? Soup? Protein? See if you can get any information about what the body is asking you to eat.

Then turn to Eye Hunger. Look at the food, taking it in with the eyes. Look at colors, shapes and textures, the play of light and dark. Next you assess Nose Hunger, by inhaling the aromas of the food a few times, as if assessing a fine wine. Then comes Mouth Hunger. Put a bite in the mouth and really savor it, fully aware of changing flavors and textures. Chew slowly, returning the mind’s attention, again and again, to the mouth...."

If you would like to read the rest of day one please visit the discussion.

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