We can choose to be mindful in any of our everyday activities. Being fully present moment to moment, with others, in our actions, our experiences, our thoughts and feelings can help us to be more fully participatory in our own lives. Often we eat mindlessly, at our desks, in front of the TV, of computer, paying no attention to what we are putting in our mouths, much less the taste, smell or texture. Mindful eating can help us to become more aware of how we eat, what we eat, how our bodies respond to our food. It can also help us to be more grateful for the food we have and the abundance of resources in our lives.
Try to do your mindful eating exercise in a quiet, distraction-free environment. This means no eating in front of the television or with music playing. Put your cell phone and other electronic items away while you are eating.
If you choose, take a moment to practice being grateful for your food. What does it mean to you to have food on a daily basis? Then bring your full attention to your food. Look at the food. Really notice what it looks like. What color is it? Is it more than one color? What shapes do you see? How does the light reflect off the surface of the food, or not? Notice how it smells. Take a few deep inhalations of the aroma of the food. Think for a moment about where your food came from. Did it grow from the earth? If so, think of the seed that it once was, the rain, sun and wind that it experienced as it grew and which nourished it. Think of the farmer who planted and tended it. Think of the person who harvested it, packed it, shipped it. Think of it's long trip from the earth to your plate.
Notice what is happening in your body before you put it in your mouth. Do you notice the urge to eat before you take a bite? Notice what this feels like in your body. Is your mouth watering? Do you feel the sensation of hunger? Are you craving the food in front of you? Notice these feelings. You don't have to change them, simply notice them.
Put a bite of the food in your mouth. Notice how it feels in your mouth. Notice the weight of the food on your tongue. Notice the texture and the shape. Is it hard or soft? Is it smooth or creamy? Does it have ridges or angles, is it rounded? Notice the taste of the food before you begin to chew.
Chew your food slowly. Notice how the shape of the food changes. Notice whether you chew more on one side of your mouth than the other. Notice the urge to swall and resist it for a moment. Notice what happens in your body. Before you swallow, notice the things that are happening in your mouth when you put food in it and when you chew. Notice how you salivate, notice the urge to swallow, notice the entire sensation of chewing. Does the chewing make a sound? What is the sound like?
As you swallow, notice what the food feels like as it moves down your throat. How does your stomach feel now that it is one bite fuller? Can you notice any difference? Do you feel like you need to take a drink of water? If you take a drink, drink mindfully as well, noticing the feeling of the liquid as it touches your tongue, the roof of your mouth, the insides of your cheeks.
Repeat your mindful eating for each bite until your meal is finished. If you are eating a full meal instead of a small snack, try to decide when the meal is finished based on the sensations in your body including the feeling of fullness in your belly, no more sensation of hunger, instead whether all the food is gone.
You may also wish to try these excercises below, with gummy bears and hot beverages. Mindful eating can be done with nearly anything. Try eating a full meal in silence, fully and mindfully.
Mindful Eating of a Gummy Bear
Choose a color. Why did you choose this particular color gummy bear?
Place the gummy bear on your tongue. Hold it there.
Begin to move the gummy bear around your mouth with your tongue a bit. Notice the shape of the gummy. Press it gently between your teeth without biting into it.
Notice how the shape and softness of the gummy changes the longer you hold it in your mouth.
Notice the sweetness of the gummy as it floods your mouth. What happens in your mouth in response to the gummy? Does your mouth water, do you feel any other sensations in your mouth, your throat, your jaw?
Notice the urge to chew the gummy, or the lack of the urge to chew the gummy.
Try to keep the gummy in your mouth as long as possible without chewing, keeping your mind focused on the sensations in your body, your thoughts about the food, and experiences directly related to the gummy. If you notice that you are thinking of something other than your mindful eating, simply let that thought go, knowing you can come back to it later, and bring your attention back to your mindful eating. Is it possible to do this until the gummy completely dissolves?
Afterward, think and reflect on what the experience was like. Was it difficult? easy? Did it bring up thoughts, feelings, memories? What did you notice?
Mindful Drinking: A Hot Beverage
Choose a hot beverage like hot tea, coffee, hot chocolate, hot cider.
Sit in a comfortable spot with your mug or cup. If you choose, take a moment to be grateful for your drink. Then bring your full attention to the mug.
Notice how the mug feels in your hand. If it is too hot to hold, wait until it cools a bit. Hold the mug in both hands and notice the warmth of the cup moving into your palms, your fingers. Where do you notice the warmth the most? Where can you feel your hands touching the mug? Where are your fingers touching your opposite hand?
Breathe in the fragrance of your drink. Notice the steam, notice the scent as it fills your nose and your throat. Does the smell bring any thoughts, memories, emotions? Take a few deep inhalations.
Take a sip of the drink. Notice where the liquid moves first, where does it touch your tongue, the roof of your mouth, under your tongue, the insides of your cheeks, your teeth. Hold the liquid inside your mouth for a bit, resisting the urge to swallow. Notice this sensation.
Swallow the liquid, noticing how it moves through your body. Can you feel the warmth of the drink moving down your throat, down your esophagus, into your stomach? Notice the sensations as they happen.
If you notice your thoughts wandering, simply bring your attention back to your mug and the sensations happening in your body. The feel of the mug, the smell of the drink, the steam, the color of the beverage. Mindfully take another sip and continue.
At the end of your exercise take notice of your body and your mind. Do you feel more relaxed? Is your mind calmer? Do you feel any tension in your body? Just notice these things without having to change anything.