Contemplative Eating: A Meditative PracticeDana Berkowitz
My grandfather always had a way of making his plate seem to be the most delicious meal in existence. He would exclaim “oh, how wonderful!” as he would slowly consume his pear, or toast with apricot preserves, or split pea soup. No matter what he ate, he found a way to enjoy his food. This isn’t to say he wasn’t picky. There were things that he would certainly never eat and there were things he absolutely adored. He either loved it, or he hated it. It seemed my grandfather was above indifference and he was going to enjoy the heck out of his bagel.
It wasn’t only that it seemed as though his meals were more delicious than anyone else. I’m sure what he ate actually did taste better than what I ate, even if we had the very same meal.
This is because my grandfather took his time. He allowed himself the joy of rubbing his belly between bites, full of delight. He would smile across the table and ask if everyone was enjoying their meal. He didn’t hesitate to try something someone else was eating if they seemed to be enjoying it. He would have a taste of all the different foods available at the table. He would then give a thorough review of the sensations he was experiencing as he chewed.
He contemplated what he ate, and as an effect, it brought him great joy.
Aryeh Kaplan once wrote: “Just as one can contemplate a flower or a melody, one can contemplate the act of eating. One opens one’s mind completely to the experience of masticating the food and fills the awareness with the taste and texture of the food. One then eats very slowly, aware of every nuance of taste.”
The act of eating can serve as a powerful meditative technique when we contemplate what we consume. Through contemplative eating we begin to see the truly miraculous nature of food and nourishment. When we begin to see the value of food, the simple process of eating will begin to fill us with great pleasure daily.
Here are a few ways to create a meditative experience from eating:
Be aware of the things you chose to consume. Ask yourself if the things you chose to eat food contradict your beliefs. Respect your body. Eat wholesome, healthy and organic foods. Respect the earth. Select options that do not harm the environment.
Choose your Environment Purposefully
Select where you would desire to eat. Personally, I enjoy eating outside. Selecting the space in which you want to eat grants you the ability to see your meal as something more than a mundane task. Rather, the meal becomes an experience.
For example, an apple grows so that you may enjoy its benefits, both in taste and in health. It exists to fulfill your needs. Consider how miraculous this, and all food, really is.
Take the time to enjoy your meal. You’ll experience more tastes than you would be able to eating faster and carelessly. Additionally, this will likely prevent you from having more than you need, as this practice will allow you to listen more closely to your body’s desires, noting when you are full and when you could benefit from consuming a bit more.
Turn off the television and hide your phone. All of your attention should be focused on your plate.