Mindful Eating

noodle soup

There’s a lot of struggle in today’s society when it comes to HEALTH, FOOD AND NUTRITION. All too frequently there’s a new fad diet or miracle berry or supplement promising people their dreams of gaining that slim healthy body full of vitality. We’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve humored these fad diets, obsessively calorie counted, banned sacred items from our shopping list and got swooped into those one month bikini body promised workouts. To our dismay, MOST OF US NEVER ACHIEVE A SUSTAINABLE CHANGE AND COUNTLESS PEOPLE STRUGGLE, SNEAK AND CHEAT, AND THEN FAIL TO REACH THEIR PROMISED GOALS. They blame their failure on outside sources, ‘It didn’t work for me’ or ‘it wasn’t right for me’.

Is it just that we haven’t discovered that miracle berry or could it possibly be that we have profoundly misunderstood ourselves?

SURELY WHEN WE GIVE UP, THE ONLY THING THAT DIDN’T WORK FOR YOU IS ‘YOU’.

SO WHEN WILL ‘YOU’ START WORKING FOR YOU?

The sobering truth is that your success or failure to see your goals to fruition has absolutely nothing to do with your outer resources, but everything to do with your inner resources; YOUR KNOWLEDGE, AWARENESS, INSIGHT, WILLPOWER, PERSEVERANCE AND DETERMINATION. Nobody can give you these things; these, you have to work for and it IS possible to train all of these aspects of mind; THROUGH MEDITATION.

Ultimately, what we truly need, is to acknowledge that our outer circumstance is a result of our inner world, in particular, our mind.

When we can train and align our mind with our deepest desires, EVERYTHING BECOMES POSSIBLE. Our mind simply needs to be trained through conscious effort; through a dedicated meditation and mindfulness practice.

I took up meditation because I began to SEEK SOMETHING BEYOND AND GREATER THAN MYSELF. I BEGAN TO SEEK THE TRUTH; TRUTH OF WHO I AM, TRUTH OF THIS WORLD AND UNIVERSE, TRUTH OF LIFE. It was a journey that surpassed seeking to please the senses. It was a journey for the greater good, to overcome human suffering.

But on this journey for truth, I found that slowly but surely, my life began to shift; to move towards an existence I was increasingly happy with.

When we train our minds and apply mindfulness to our food a whole new world and level of understanding and appreciation begins to open up. It was there all along, but we became ignorant to it.

Health of Spirit Mind and Body Means Mindfulness

In Plum village, a beautiful mindfulness retreat, nuns and lay folk bring their palms together in silence and contemplate their meal before them. They then proceed to eat consciously, WITH FULL AWARENESS AND GRATITUDE, AND IN SILENCE. When they are done, they bring their palms together again to acknowledge their nourishment and their company at the table before mindfully going to wash their dishes.

As I replay these lovely events through my mind, it brings a little sadness in my heart when I realize how much our human race are missing out on. I know it may look and sound ritualistic and even make you feel uncomfortable, but I assure you, it is much more than playing theatre.

Here is my own experience.

When I brought my palms together before my food, it wasn’t for show. I TOOK THREE DEEP BREATHS and with each breath I contemplated the truth of my meal before me. Let’s for example talk about the carrot on my plate; I played it on rewind in my mind…Queuing up to collect my food and picking up a delicately steamed carrot; the nuns chopping the carrot in the kitchen; the shop delivering the carrot; the farmer pulling the carrot out of the ground; the carrot growing in the ground from a seed; someone planting the seed; the sun, soil, water and air needed for the seed to grow; and the existence of our planet and our universe for all of this to occur.

All of these things and much more needed to exist and coexist in order for that carrot to reach my lips. It’s true we require our imagination to recount such events, but such events had to have taken place for this moment and this meal to occur. When I contemplated this, the natural result was a DEEP GRATITUDE AND REVERENCE FOR LIFE. I sat there in my natural and unforced gratitude as I chewed mindfully through my food. I noted every intention to chew, felt every texture, and tasted every flavor. When my mind wandered, I gently brought it back to my food and gave it the attention it deserved.

I finished my meal once I felt full and not a carrot more and I brought my palms together, again, not for show. I contemplated the food going through my body, being broken down and absorbed into my blood stream and the molecules being used to create my body’s energy so that I could continue to live. THERE IS A WHOLE UNIVERSE AT WORK WITHIN OUR VERY OWN BODIES. How can one not feel grateful when they remember the reality behind their meal and behind the process of eating? It is impossible not to feel grateful. We only have to remember and contemplate deeply the truth of life.

Over the last few years, the following things changed naturally for me as a result of a rise in my own consciousness:

I became vegetarian. I didn’t become a judgmental veggie fundamentalist; I love the smell and taste of meat! I simply realized the truth behind my steak and could no longer be a part of such a process. One only needs to open their eyes and look online to see the reality of how our animals are treated, and we have a choice; to be a part of it, or not.

Now, whenever I go to the grocery shop, I grab what stimulates my mind; bright, colorful and juicy vegetables. On my journey into mindfulness I also became more aware of how certain foods made me feel. I became aware that meat and excessive carbs made me feel heavy and sluggish, coffee and sugar overly agitated me…and naturally I ate less of them.

Healthy fitness salad

I eat mindfully and much smaller portions. WITH A STRONGER MIND-BODY CONNECTION THROUGH MINDFUL EATING AND MEDITATION, I KNOW MUCH MORE CLEARLY WHEN I AM FULL. I realized that I didn’t need to eat nearly as much as I use to in order to feel satisfied. Half the typical portion size in restaurants was more than enough for me and I started to save the other half for later. Most of us suffer from gluttony through our ignorance. ‘WAKE UP’ AND YOU WILL NATURALLY STOP DOING IT.

I lost weight and sustained it. During the last 6 years I had been unhappy about my body shape and weight. I always wanted to be 5kg less than I was but it never happened despite my fad diets and spurts of exercise. Then effortlessly through the mindful shift in my attitude towards food, I naturally dropped exactly 5kg and I feel good! No intention to diet, no forcing myself to exercise. It’s true I do a lot of yoga, but simply because I love it…something else that mindfulness and meditation has pushed me towards, for which I am grateful.

SO IN THE END, I FIND I AM COMPLETELY HAPPY WITH MY PHYSIQUE, NOT BECAUSE I CHASED AFTER A FIT AND PLEASING BODY, BUT BECAUSE I BECAME MORE AWARE, CONSCIOUS AND MINDFUL, ON MY JOURNEY TO SEEK TRUTH.

I’m sure this is not one you’ll often hear from a diet expert or personal trainer, but my advice to you would be to not diet and exercise for the sole purpose of improving your outer beauty…instead, WORK ON YOUR INNER WORLD, THROUGH MEDITATION, AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW; YOU WILL SIMPLY KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.

When we become beautiful on the inside, we become beautiful on the outside.

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