What is Mindful Eating?
Our eating habit can change our attitude. Food is the one of the main source of energy. It just not impacts our physical health but also our mental state. Not just what we eat but how we eat is also equally important. Mindful Eating is one of the practices that not just improve our digestion process but also it increases our consciousness.
Companion comes from the word ‘com’ and ‘panis’. ‘Com’ means together and ‘panis’ means bread. It means as we break the bread together. In modern society we like to put conversation while having meal. Even meeting is arranged during meal time. We take dining hall as a meeting or chatting place. We love to go to a restaurant and talk with friends.
In yogic text and traditional culture eating is also regarded as a spiritual practice. In eastern culture anna, the food is regarded as the prasad of the god. To tune with the energy with divinity one should practice silence and awareness while eating food. This culture though is slowly vanishing but the essence of this practice in nowadays also getting the scientific evidence.
Eppiglottis is located behind the tongue that helps to shallow our food while eating. But when we talk and eat it remain open and increases the chance of entering the food into our windpipe and lungs. Sometime we cough during eating when the food goes to windpipe. Sometime it may get fatal. That is why it is always wise to practice silence while eating.
Eating has also a psychological effect. When we are in stress, we eat fast and too much. When we are sad, we don’t feel like eating. When we eat with gratitude and consciousness, it becomes the spiritual practice. This is the mindful eating.
When we eat not just physically but mentally also we should practice silence. Staying silence means tuning with self. It means being aware of the thought process even when we are eating. This is possible by becoming conscious in our food. If we have negative thoughts while eating, it effects our digestion also. When we are in stress intestines get either underactive or overactive resulting a bad digestion. So, it is very important to have positive thoughts.
To practice silence, observation is important while we are having food. Eating food can be a practice of meditation. We do just like observe our breath in meditation, we should observe how we are eating, how we chew, how is the taste of the food and the state of mind during eating. This has a great impact in our whole food consuming process. It not just has impact on our health but on mind also. It helps to calm down our mind and free us from the stress and anxiety. So, if we don’t have time to meditate, we don’t have to worry. We all have time to eat. Without eating we cannot function. So, we can make just the eating time as a meditation. This will improve our health and also consciousness.
Praying before the meal is an important practice in most of the traditional culture. In many culture, we remember the god or divinity, we thanks to the nature, before eating. This not just had impact on our mind but it also helps to create positive energy in the food. Even when cooking the food, if we cook with positive mind, it not just impacts the taste but also the energy of the food.
Praying is also taking some time to appreciate the food. It is also a time to relax our mind and body activating our digestive system. It is essential for better digestion of the food. As the body and mind relaxes, our parasympathetic nervous system becomes activated. It increases saliva production and helps in food digestion.
Chanting mantra during praying is an effective way to relax our mind. It is not we have to necessarily chant the mantras. If we are unfamiliar to certain praying mantras, we can just give some time to express our gratitude and appreciate the food. It improves our awareness and consciousness towards the food.
So, turn off the gadgets
We cannot keep our gadgets on side even when we are eating food. It becomes a habit of using electric gadget, mobile, laptop or watching TV while eating. It is we are giving less importance on food. Mobile is taking all the attention. It is said most of the TV news are negative. We need to generate positive environment. Whatsoever, the news on the TV is becoming important than our health. Is this a good habit? We know it’s not but we are addicted.
Yoga teaches us to eat mindfully. Mobile should be always kept on side. We should sense the food with our five senses. We should see the food and hear it while chewing. We should close the eyes and visualize the taste. It improves the taste of the food. When we practice this more saliva is secreted. Our hunger improves. We eat only enough. We do not overeat. One of the causes of the obesity is overeating. When we watch TV or cinema during eating, we just keep on eating. We are not conscious. We are tending to over eat. Food is the importance source of energy. To perform our activity in efficient way, we need good energy. It is important to have a good food, and quality way of consuming it. Eating should not be taken as the minor activity. We should separate time just for eating food. Relax, be conscious, enjoy eating food keeping all the things aside, the worries and tensions, the gadgets and mobiles.
How to eat mindfully?
Close the eyes – Keep the gadget on the side. You can start with the prayer. Simply you can express the gratitude for the food. This brings positive vibes which is essential for the good food digestion. We see animal are very instinctive. When they are hungry, they just jump to the food. Yoga means also the equilibrium of the mind. Maintaining equilibrium during the food is also good for our body and mind. When we set sometime for prayer before eating, it also helps to activate saliva. If we just eat in hurry and anxiety it later on can create problem like Indigestion, constipation etc.
Use the five senses of organs. Feel the energy of food. If the food is full of quality definitively we will feel like eating. We should not victim of our tongue. Our stomach should feel good. Next, be attentive with the shape, texture and color of the food. Use the five senses. Feel the smell. The food should be chewed very well. The food should turn into like liquid. Keep down the spoon. Close your eyes. You well better feel the taste. This helps to dissolve more saliva during the chewing food process. Visualize the taste. When you give time to the food, it also helps to remove the habit of overeating.
Sometime we just miss the thing how the food comes into the plate. We have the culture of fast food. We don’t have the time. But let’s think, the main source of the food is nature. Nature is so rich! It provides enough food for every creature in the earth. The farmer harvests the land with so much hard work and determination. The chef cooks with love. We get to then enjoy this healthy and tasteful food. We should be grateful not just to the food, but to the nature, to all the labor, kitchen worker, farmer, who had put together the effort so that we can be feed with a quality food. The attitude of thankfulness helps to build the good relationship between each other as we by nature depend on each other. When we are grateful, we accumulate a positive energy from the food. It develops positive energy, positive attitude.
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