Meditation Practices for Mindful Eating

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh has spoken quite often about the importance of mindful eating. He has, in fact, given us mindfulness practices for mindful eating.

For example, in Plum Village or even at retreats in the United States or Canada, every meal is consumed in mindfulness. For the first twenty minutes or more, we eat silently. We eat slowly and mindfully. We chew our food a number of time. We experience the aromas and tastes of the food as we eat. We take great pleasure in eating quietly.

We recognize the cloud in the tea that we drink. We are grateful to the gardener who planted the crop, grew it, and brought it to market. We feel gratitude to the sun for bringing energy into the plant and we see the cloud in the food that we eat.

We begin our meal with the following five contemplations:

  1. This food is a gift of the whole universe,the earth, the sky and much mindful work.
  2. May we eat in mindfulness so as to be worthy of it.
  3. May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat in moderation.
  4. May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.
  5. May we accept this food to realize the path of understanding and love.

Meditation Practices for Mindful Eating

There are many other meditation practices for mindful eating. Try this one. It is very easy. Pick out a nice, plump raisin from your box. Then

1. Look at the raisin. Notice its curves and its wrinkles. Pay attention to its color. See any differences in texture? Are there any bits of sugar tucked into the folds?

2. Feel the raisin. Is it soft? Smooth? How does it feel between your fingers? Is it warm? Cool?

3. Smell the raisin. What does it remind you of? How would you describe its scent? If you can’t smell it, puncture it a little bit with your fingernail and see if that brings out the scent. Notice the scent.

4. Put the raisin in your mouth (but don’t chew yet!). Feel it with your tongue. Feel the texture of the raisin. Can you taste anything yet? Let it sit in your mouth for a few more moments. Does it feel soft? Does it taste sweet?

5. Now, finally, chew the raisin — but slowly. Be present for the entire process. Feel the flavor unfold with each bite. Don’t swallow right away — let the taste linger in your mouth. Notice how the texture of the raisin changes as you chew.

Then, finally, we swallowed.


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