We eat and drink all the time
We couldn’t survive without food and drink!
Yet how much ‘stuff’ goes on around this process! How often do we eat and drink thoughtlessly! How often are we worrying over what we eat and what we ‘mustn’t eat’.
- We eat for comfort
- Nibble while we’re busy checking emails or working at our desks
- Snack while watching TV even when we are full up
- Or we don’t eat at all even when we feel starving hungry
And in the news and media we are bombarded with subjects around diets, over-eating, obesity, body image.
The simple pleasure of food and drink
What could be a simple pleasure – eating and drinking, has become fraught. We find reasons to criticise ourselves, feel shame, feel out of control, feel guilty. The saying,
can induce guilt to many.
Even sitting with family together eating, as you may do at times of celebration, there can be conflict.
The enjoyment of eating can get tarred with the emotional impact of family conversations, traditions and expectations of perfection or a perceived ideal.
Perhaps you feel it’s time to reclaim some pure enjoyment and presence back to your eating and drinking.
A sacred space in your heart
Leo Babauta, from Zen Habits, describes how you can make a tea-drinking experience an opportunity to ‘Create a Sacred Space in Your Heart.’
Yesterday I had tea with a Daoist tea monk who said for tea to change you, you have to create a sacred space in your heart for the tea.
Imagine that space for a moment. How does it feel? What can reside in that sacred space? How different is it from mechanically drinking tea, without paying attention to it?
Now think about the difference between just drinking tea, as if you were drinking anything and not really paying attention … and drinking tea with that sacred space in your heart for that tea. It’s profoundly different, and it changes everything.
You can do that for anything, not just tea. Anything that’s important to you.
If you create a sacred space in your heart for something, it changes how you do it. It changes you, at the molecular level … Perhaps every moment should have a sacred space in our hearts, but we have to start somewhere. Pick something small but important, and create that space today.
Try this with your next cup of tea, or whatever you choose to drink.
- Begin by being curious about where the drink has come from – the tea leaves and where they were grown, the process they experienced before they arrived in your kitchen.
- How nature provided the conditions for the tea leaves to grow.
- The people involved in growing, producing and transporting your tea.
- The gratitude you could feel towards this process and towards nature.
- Then as you drink your tea savour every mouthful.
- Use all your senses – smell the aroma, feel the warmth of the cup as your hands clasp it, watch the steam rise up, taste the flavour.
Do all of this slowly and with your complete awareness. Notice how different this is to the way you may usually drink your tea.
Eat, drink and be merry
You can use this same process with food too.
Or maybe it’s just an ordinary day.
To eat, drink and be merry, the key is to slow down and savour your food.
Be aware of your thoughts and activities as you eat. Make choices to be more present and you may well find that the food you eat is more enjoyable than it has ever been before.
This is mindful eating.
So during Christmas or any celebratory time of the year, mindfully eat, drink and be merry! Savour and really enjoy!
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness and Meditation Guide
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