Rarely do I eat alone. Living with family, and sharing the joy of eating lunch with colleagues when I’m in the office, I recently realized how little mindful eating I engage in. Yet, this is a practice I learned more than a decade ago, and formerly held such deep significance.
Enjoying reading, learning, and continuing education in many areas of wellness, I have found that up until a few years ago, my personal tendency was to read, watch, and read some more about ways to improve my wellness; rarely did I take the time to practice what I learned.
This week, God graced me with lunch alone. At first, the temptation to grab my phone, the laptop, or anything that might provide company gripped my natural instincts. Then, I sensed a gentle invitation to stop and focus on the spiritual practice of mindful eating.
Mindful eating is an invitation to focus on the eating experience itself – what we see, taste, touch, smell, and hear. Are there any body-related sensations emerging as we eat? What thoughts or feelings arise, if any, about the food? The hope is to bring awareness, not judgment.
Lunch alone this week found a simple meal of Trader Joe’s garden minestrone soup. Before enjoying the first bite, I put my hands around the bowl and noticed its warmth on a damp, rainy day. Next, the variety of produce in the soup – from the peas and potatoes to the beans and carrots – came to mind. Gratitude for the farmers harvesting the fields met the warmth of the bowl.
Eating a bit slower than normal, the grit of the potatoes, or something that actually felt like sand or dirt, became evident. Grossed out momentarily, I paused to redirect my heart towards God. Noticing that the grit was perhaps grains from the very soil these vegetables grew in replaced the aversion to the texture.
Shortly into the bowl of soup, my husband popped upstairs and asked how lunch was. Up until his invitation to reflect, I had not actually stopped to taste. Stopping for a moment, I realized how healthy the soup tasted (that’s code language for an ‘earthy’ palette).
Moments later, a lingering taste of garlic surface and stirred a hankering for something sweet. I stopped myself and resisted the cookie just long enough to sit down and write this blog.
What did I learn from this mindful eating exercise?
I am way too quick to avoid discomfort and run to comfort. When I eat too fast, I value pleasant taste and smooth texture more than food’s nourishing contributions. Alternatively, I learned that the immediate desire to taste something pleasing can be put on the back seat to pay closer attention to God’s provision in our lives. Hundreds of hands contributed to foods in our fridge, which provide ample opportunities for gratitude.
All of this in one bowl of soup my friends (and a cookie later).
In what ways are you hungry for the living Christ?
How might God be inviting us to slow down and notice how Creation provides fuel for our bodies, and processed foods only filler.
Creation teaches us so much. We need only slow down and enjoy the feast that satisfies all hunger. May your next bite bring you a bit closer to the God in Christ who loves us unconditionally and fills all in all.
Until next time, keep Breathing in Christ.