Day 23,728: Attempting More Mindful Eating
With all I want to get done in a day, instinct tells me to speed up. Wiser gurus, however, tell me to slow down. Apparently by slowing down, I quiet my mind, focus, and achieve more toward any one goal than anxiously attempting to succeed at multiple goals.
This is most evident in my eating habits. To be a healthy eater, I’m advised to eat slowly. This is difficult for me as I was the youngest in a family of boys, and if you didn’t grab and eat your food fast when served, there were no seconds and could be no firsts. Not that we didn’t have enough food, or that my mother wouldn’t cook more, and she certainly wouldn’t have let me go to bed hungry, but the family culture was to wolf down the food to either get back to work, or to ensure you got your fair share.
Although I haven’t competed for food with my brothers at the family dinner table in years, I still pick at food while it’s being prepared (another tactic to get portions before portions were served), or eating way too quickly after the food is actually plated and on the table. Dieticians will tell you that’s a great recipe for overeating as your brain hasn’t had time to clock that the food was consumed.
Every religion in the world has a gratitude practice for saying prayers before eating. This is a wonderful slowing tactic and also one never practiced in my largely secular family. However, lately I’ve been following several New Age and Old Age (read Tibetan and Native American) suggestions for a more mindful approach to eating.
Of course, work situations don’t help as we usually work through lunch and eat while working. I try to focus on my food, but my eye wanders to e-mail. In the summer, I try to eat at picnic tables outdoors, but have to stop myself from taking magazines and office literature with me. I have the same problem at breakfast where I try to catch up on health books while consuming eggs. It’s an oxymoron move, I know.
One book out there is called Forks Over Knives to foster the idea that if you stay focused on what you put on your fork, you can avoid getting so sick that you have to go under the knife with high-priced surgeons. The book promotes a plant-based lifestyle, but the concept of paying attention to whatever is on your fork to avoid disease works for even omnivores.
New Agers such as J.J. Virgin and Functional Medicine MD Mark Hyman actively preach that Americans should reframe as medicine — to look at what goes in our mouth being sustenance for achieving peak health. The quote at the top of Dr. Hyman’s web page is printed in large, bold letters saying:
THE MOST POWERFUL TOOL TO
AND CHANGE THE WORLD
Buddhist practice before a meal also references food as medicine as one of 5 key contemplations to considerbefore eating.
- I contemplate all the causes and conditions and the kindness of others by which I received this food.
- I contemplate my own practice, constantly trying to improve it.
- I contemplate my mind, cautiously guarding it from wrongdoing, greed, and other defilements.
- I contemplate this food, treating it as wondrous medicine to nourish my body.
- I contemplate the aim of awakening Buddhahood, accepting and consuming this food in order to accomplish it.
I like the idea of contemplations over prayers and mindful eating. I like giving gratitude to plants and animals who are creating nourishment for my betterment. I now have to create a practice, or find ways to slow down at least at meal times and then, if lucky, can find ways to slow down in other areas of my life as well.
Daily Focus on Gun Sanity: The goal of most gun control groups is not to curtail the Second Amendment, but to foster more mindful use of guns. This includes background checks, red flag laws, and reconsideration of military grade wares including add-ons such as Bump Stocks that convert normal personal artillery into weapons of war. When the NRA was first started, its mission was just that — sane and sensible training of gun handling in order to ensure gun safety. Along the way it has been hijacked by Wayne LaPierre’s team. New organizations are coming on the scene to reclaim the NRA’s roots to promote good hunting practices and safe gun handling in all situations. Perhaps we should reframe the conversation as Mindful Use of Guns to cool down some of the hot headed debates and see how that works to change the world.