The fact of being here to eat It is a wonderful reality, I am fully myself I follow my conscious breath, my presence, and I am aware of my thoughts and my actions.
Think of when you finish fasting and start eating again, a new awareness automatically engages in you after the fasting.
The first bite after the fast is already in itself an experience of mindfulness, feel the taste more alive, you instantly feel the reaction of the body itself to assimilation, literally feel the energy of food flowing in you.
Unfortunately, since our species is a forgetful one, the sensation of this experience tends to dissolve in the return to the routine. So, we start to eat automatically, maybe doing something else, taken between 1000 small actions that distract us and 10,000 thoughts that force us to think at all times of our day. We leave the TV turned on, we swallow the food without almost chewing it, our mind goes back to wander far.
Yet, as you probably know, eating slowly, chewing well, savoring every bite, taking the right time to eat meals, as well as being an excellent mindfulness exercise, is also a simple way to automatically maintain control of your weight.
Recent research has confirmed it, those who eat slowly, can count on a 42% reduction in the risk of obesity, compared to those who eat food too quickly. A 6-year study by the Department of Health Administration and Management at the University of Chiba in Japan collected information on lifestyle, eating habits, body mass index and abdominal circumference of each participant.
In addition to data on blood, urine tests and liver functions, everyone was also asked to describe at what rate they used to eat meals and based on the responses, the sample was divided into normal, slow and fast eaters.
According to the results of these 6 years of observations, slow eaters had 42% less likely to be overweight or obese than those who tended to eat quickly. Also for this reason it is advised to practice fast but not frequent fastings, once a week it would be ideal.
A good way to also automatically increase the frequency of mindful awareness of eating, slowly and consciously, is a technique that helps you to spread the practice, inviting you to try to bring as much as possible your awareness about yourself.
When you eat so as to consolidate mental practice, and to foster the healthy benefits of eating slowly, it is difficult to always eat mindfully. As in general it is difficult to perform every daily action in a mindful way, so it is useful to consider also the action of eating with mindfulness, as an exercise, as it is a real meditation session. Therefore, decide which meals you want to consume in a mindful way, and limit yourself to those, leaving others in automatic mode.
Verifying then, if the practice of awareness also gradually changes the habitual behavior. In other words, you should keep in mind how your daily eating behavior is automatic, too. You should start automatically, progressively, to eat slower than you did before.
Start by training for one or two meals a week, then, if and when you feel like it, increase the sessions of gastronomic meditation with this technique. Doing so, develop even more In general, the ability to stay focused, in every action you do, in every moment of your day, and you will be able to make sure that each of your actions is accompanied by mental presence.
You can therefore use the activity of mindfulness, eating as a model or matrix, and of course you can apply your awareness on every action you want to perform. From doing the washing machine and hanging clothes, driving the car, shopping, walking in the park and so on.
Execution of the Technique
When you want to eat mindfully, follow this pattern:
Sit down at the table in front of your plate, first place your attention on your breath. Starting from a slow and deep breathing, Do not force yourself while performing this technique, do not force the breath, everything must be as natural and simple as possible, get to breathe in and out deeply as far as you feel you are going, without forcing your breath be as natural as possible when you inhale.
Repeat Mentally, I am breathing in, when you exhale, Repeat Mentally I am exhaling. So you will calm the mind, focusing in a relaxed way on the breath, continuing with the controlled but natural rhythm of the breath. Extend your face In a light serene smile, start taking the first bite, a small portion of the food you have in your plate.
An advice, when you have chosen the portion, cut it into two parts and choose one of these, take it to your mouth, place the cutlery on the plate and start chewing, focused only on the action of chewing. Chew with absolute calm, you’ll definitely want to swallow but you do not do it, keep chewing and chew consciously, slowly, until you feel that the mouthful has become liquid at that point and only then swallow.
While swallowing, try to perceive the food that goes down the esophagus and reaches the stomach. Then take another portion and start again with the same action, place the cutlery on the plate and start chewing slowly, make chewing even slower, make it even more conscious, focus on the taste of the food you chew. Concentrate on perfumes. Try more and more to make slow chewing natural and to shift your attention from chewing to the food you’re chewing, to its taste, its aromas.
If you are to swallow, try not to do it and continue to chew until the morsel becomes liquid again.
Do not focus on anything but the food you’re chewing. So your mind enters more and more into the food you’re chewing, it becomes one with the food you’re chewing, it brings your attention to every single bite while you’re chewing it.
Repeat mentally, one or more times, I’m eating now, I’m chewing now, this is food and I’m chewing it, until it becomes liquid I’m now swallowing my food.
Your mind must not be occupied by anything other than this action. Mental words, therefore, can help you to bring back your mindfulness, solely to the action of chewing food.
This action is all you are doing, this action is all you are. You do not need anything else, there is no past or future, there are no thoughts or worries, there is nothing else for you at this moment than to eat.
Chew every morsel as if it were an object of contemplation, return to also bring your attention to the breath. Always keep your awareness that it is the breath that gives the rhythm to the fluid movement you are performing. The movement of chewing follows the breath, the chewing is in perfect harmony with the breath, you perceive the action you are doing at this moment bringing all your mental presence on it.
Your awareness is occupied solely by the action you are performing guided by the breath. If the mind flees behind the thoughts, do not try to drive them away, simply as soon as you come back consciously, Repeat Mentally, I am now eating with perfect awareness. Then bring back your attention on your breathing and then on your action to eat slowly and consciously.
At first glance, this tutorial will look more like a torture than anything else, but you will see that as time goes on, your mind will get used to it and if you are constant you will reach such a pace that everything will become part of your set of habits. Just like now your habit is to eat quickly and without chewing enough.
I can only wish you a big success and if this exercise can help yourself, you can also recommend it to those you care and you know you want to help.