Have you ever looked down at your food only to shockingly notice that it’s gone? I’ll admit—my bowl of Ben & Jerry’s often disappears before I can say “Cherry Garcia.” Like many daily activities, eating is often done on autopilot, especially when we are busy. Many of us spend our days eating, driving, scrolling social media, and even showering without much attention. We tend to go just through the motions out of habit. Today, I’m inviting you to slow down and make one of your automatic activities—eating—more deliberate.
Like any new activity, this takes intention and practice. Use this guided meditation to practice eating more mindfully, and eventually it will become second nature to stop, slow down, and really enjoy your food.
Hello. This is Laura, and welcome to this mindful eating exercise.
Begin by setting aside approximately five minutes in a quiet space. Silence your phones or other devices and select a small amount of food or drink to have nearby for this practice. You just need a bite’s worth. Some foods that work well are grapes, small squares of chocolate, raisins, maybe a little tangerine, nuts, or seltzer or tea if you prefer a drink.
Once you have your item, find a comfortable seat and take a few deep breaths to connect with your body. Full inhales and long, slow exhales, and on the exhale, really sinking into the seat below you, fully arriving in this moment.
Hold your food or drink comfortably in your hand and imagine that you are an alien who has just dropped down to Earth from another planet, and you’ve never seen an object like this before. You are curious, so you take your time to focus on this object and examine it. Spend a minute or two now really gazing at the time with full attention. Let’s look at the details.
What colors do you see? Do you see any dark spots, or light spots, any cracks, folds or ridges? Does the light cast any shadow on your object? Is it mostly one color or do you see many? Are there lines or streaks here? Any other unique features? I’m practicing with you with a small grape and I see little line on it that resembles a smile.
Next, if the item is not already in your fingers, move it toward your fingers, perhaps your thumb and your pointer finger, and feel the texture of your item. Is it smooth or bumpy? Is it rough in some places? Perhaps close your eyes and see if this enhances any sensation of the texture here. Does it feel different when you touch it with different fingers?
Now open your eyes and bring the item to your nose. Smell the item. Drink in any aroma that arises. When you do this, notice if anything simultaneously happens in your mouth. Does saliva begin to produce in the mouth as you smell this item? As you smell the item, do you notice any different sensation in your stomach?
Bring the item to your ear. Listen for any sound, or perhaps gently squeeze the item. Do you hear anything now? And remember to maintain the sense of curiosity as you explore this item.
Now move the item to your lips, just outside the lips and notice how your arm and your hand know exactly how to position the item here, and place the item in the mouth, but do not chew it. Simply hold the item on one side of the mouth. Then as you do this, how does it feel? Do you have an urge to chew? What do you taste? Are there any strong flavors or delicate flavors? Now move the item to the other side of your mouth. Does any sensation or flavor change as it sits in the mouth moment by moment?
When you’re ready, chew the item. Is there a burst of flavor now? How does this feel in the mouth? In the teeth? Take your time here. Chew slowly. Chew intentionally.
And when you are ready, purposefully swallow the item. Can you sense the object moving down into the stomach? Can you feel it travel down the throat?
How does the body feel now? And ask yourself, what was it like to explore this ordinary object in this new way? What was it like to make the automatic activity of eating more deliberate?
Paying attention to an ordinary experience in a new way can really drop us into the present moment and transform our lives, allowing us to fully connect. Give yourself permission to eat one snack, one meal, or have one drink mindfully each day, and consider what affect that might have on your mind and your body. Thank you for your practice. Take care.
Ask yourself: What was it like to make the automatic activity of eating more deliberate? Did paying closer attention to it change the experience for you? Are there other areas of your life that you can connect with more fully to harness the present moment? Give yourself permission to eat one meal or snack mindfully each day and notice what effect it has on your mind and body over time.