Mindfulness is all about paying attention to what you are doing and being in the moment. It is about delving into the very essence of something. So, if you want to define what eating mindfully is, you can simply say that it is ‘eating’. It is eating and doing nothing else.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? If you take a look at our present day food habits, it is precisely this simplicity that we are losing, if we have not lost it completely. At present, we have become masters at practicing something known as mindless eating.
What is mindless eating?
Mindless eating is not paying attention to what you are eating. Nowadays, we have a bevy of distractions to take our attention away from our food. Maybe we are watching something very interesting on Television, or maybe we are talking to someone, or maybe we are chatting on our phone, or, as it often happens, maybe we are doing all these activities at once. While indulged in these activities, eating takes a very secondary importance. Most of us don’t even feel hungry before we eat something. We just eat because we know that we have to.
This is not the way we should go about eating. Food is an underrated and yet important aspect of one’s personality. You can almost categorize people on the basis of their food choices. A couch potato is more likely to be addicted to fast food, and people who workout everyday are also the ones who are quite selective about what they eat. In short, ‘you are what you eat’.
Adding mindfulness to your meal
A change in what you eat and how you eat can completely alter your personality. This is the main concept behind practicing mindful eating. You just have to let go all the activities that demand your attention and just focus on the ‘now’ i.e. focus on what you are eating.
When practiced earnestly, eating mindfully would provide you with physical, mental as well as spiritual fulfilment. It is a very deep process, and impossible to do without devotion. It has multiple aspects to it. It might take you years of practice before you make your meal truly mindful, but to make a start you can consider these 10 simple tips for adding mindfulness to your meal:
1. Set fixed time for eating
There is an important link between being devoted to something and setting proper time for it. In almost all the religions, the devotees are instructed to worship at some particular time, at which they are not supposed to do anything else.
In the same way, the best way of respecting your meal is by setting fixed time for it. If you feel hungry many times a day, you should fix many such small meal times. Moreover, you should try not eating anything between these meal times, as that would assure that you are hungry whenever it is the time to eat.
2. Set a proper place
Every place has certain range of impressions associated with it. When you are inside a room, looking at all the things around you would remind you of different memories. Therefore, while eating, the most mindful option would be being in a place that reminds you only of food. No, you should not eat inside your kitchen, though even that won’t be a bad option, but you should dine everyday at one proper place, so that the ambience of the place does not take you away from your food.
3. Get rid of distractions
When you are focusing on many things at once, you cannot pay equal attention to everything. So, while eating, you should turn off your television. Put your cellphone on silent mode. You should not respond to anything except your food. Let the world know that you are having your food.
4. Eat in a quiet environment
Has it ever happened with you that you were trying to write something, and you couldn’t do it because there was too much noise around you? This happens because to better focus on things our mind requires a quiet environment. The same goes with food. In order to add mindfulness to your meal, it is necessary that you have it in a place where you can properly focus on it.
5. Don’t hurry
Eating in hurry shows that you are giving more importance to the activities, which you are going to do once you are done with your meal. This is something you should avoid at all costs. Never be in a hurry. Chew your food slowly and properly. Don’t just give it your time, give it your attention.
6. Talk about the food
Though it would be best you don’t talk at all. However, if you like to make occasional comments then make sure they are about food. Talking about the flavour or the taste of something would also make others around you aware of it, and would thus make them more attentive of their food.
7. Cook your own food
Avoid ordering your food from outside, cook it at home. If there’s someone in your house, who dislikes eating home cooked food, maybe you should try making them a part of the cooking team. Everyone likes own cooked food, unless it tastes extremely bad.
8. Be creative
Making the same old dish with the same old ingredients would take away the taste from it. Cooking something new or adding new ingredients to the same old dish would make everyone more attentive of the food. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with new recipes every once in a while.
9. Grow your own vegetables
Though not a feasible option in the modern fast paced life, if you can you should try eating food grown in your own garden. Not only it is healthy, nothing tastes better than a freshly plucked vegetable.
10. Be patient
Mindfulness is striving with patience and striving towards patience, so don’t bring any sudden to the way you eat. Just keep on adding mindfulness to your meal every day, and wait. In time, it would automatically develop into something beautiful and serene.