If you’ve ever polished off an entire meal so quickly you don’t even remember what it tasted like, or chastised yourself for overstuffing, you are aware of the consequences of mindless eating.
The opposite of mindless, or unconscious, eating is mindful eating. Mindful eating turns the simple, daily act of eating into a more fulfilling experience.
Changing your mindset about what fulfills you can forever change your relationship to food and your life. Conscious eating could also be the last diet you’ll ever have to stick to.
The intentionally slow pace of meal times, the almost exasperatingly long pauses between bites, and meditating on the food’s color, aroma and texture creates the emotional space to listen in to your body’s real dietary needs.
Mindful eating exposes the core psychological factors that lead to unhealthful eating. Binge eating, addiction to junk foods and even starving ourselves all come to light as behaviors we no longer need in our relationship to food.
Mindful Eating is also one way to integrate a spiritual practice into your daily routine.
A central challenge for most of us is to create a profound spiritual path without having to turn away from the world. Most of us want to find deep spiritual value and fulfillment from the lives we are already living, in our everyday relationships, jobs and communities.
This meditation inspires us to fuel our bodies with cleaner, lighter, more nutrient packed foods. From improved digestion and higher energy to feeling in better control over your life, the rewards for both mind and body can be realized almost immediately.
Mindful eating as meditation is rooted in Buddhist teachings, but has made its way into mainstream society in bits and pieces. As more people become aware of the power of meditation to fulfill their lives, they are looking for ways to incorporate more meditation time into their busy schedules.
Taoist teacher Steve Kim has been practicing mindful eating for the past six years. I spoke with him about his experience and to learn about the energy principles at work in this meditative practice.
Q&A on Mindful Eating with Steve Kim
ChangeYourEnergy: Tell us about Mindful Eating. What is it?
Steve Kim: It starts from being aware of the action of eating itself including seeing, smelling, chewing and swallowing. But it naturally extends to being aware of the influence of the food on your body and mind, both instantly and over time, and eventually to being considerate of the entire system of life that supports all life forms on the planet including your own. By eating mindfully, we can contribute to the well being of the whole planet.
CYE: Can eating really be a form of meditation?
SK: Anything, if done mindfully, can be meditation. Actually, practicing meditation is the main point of doing something mindfully. It is the act of experiencing something fully. When we do things mindfully, there are always new insights and improvements.
CYE: What are the benefits of mindful eating?
SK: Most of us take our meals in ways that miss the experience—driving, talking on the phone, at our desks, watching TV&mdash. Because our brain can really only process one thing at a time, we miss the enjoyment of our food and often never realize when we are full.
CYE: Is Mindful Eating a ‘diet?’
SK: Not in the traditional sense, no. But Mindful Eating can permanently replace yo-yo dieting, counting calories and body image issues. Many people report feeling more in control of their lives with improved social connections and better job performance.
CYE: What has been your personal experience with mindful eating. What inspired you to try it?
SK: First, it was out of curiosity, just something to experiment with. I wanted to know how I eat and what really happens while eating. I found many benefits including better digestion and more energy.
CYE: Were there any surprises or disappointments?
SK: I realized, when eating mindfully, eating habits change naturally because you take back your power to choose consciously.
CYE: Since you've started mindful eating, what has changed for you?
SK: Better digestion and more energy are part of the benefits. But there are other changes, more internal or spiritual. These include feeling more grateful, not only for the food, but for life itself.
Once you’ve become more experienced in making eating a mindful and pleasurable ritual, you may be motivated to apply its principles to everything you do. Now there’s some good food for thought.
This message is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare practitioner with any health concerns.