Thursday, September 03, 2015

Have a mindful meal: Day 1: 21-day Mindfulness Challenge


'Tis the season for challenges. On August 31, I joined the 21-day Amygdala Whispering Challenge, and yesterday, I joined the 21-day Mindfulness Challenge, hosted by Kindspring. To avoid confusing you, and myself, I intend to blog everyday on the Mindfulness Challenge, and occasionally about the Amygdala Whispering Challenge.

I have great expectations of the Mindfulness Challenge. Left to myself, I have gotten a little rough around the edges, a little too strained and stressed. I think this challenge will help sort myself out, and help slow down the rhythm of my life.

The 21-day Mindfulness Challenge seeks to encourage us to live mindfully. 
In the moment.

Modernity has made a virtue out of multitasking, of flitting from one effort to another, in a mad dash to finish all tasks as quickly as possible. What do we do with the time we've saved? Do we value our leisure time?

Quite the contrary. We rush headlong into another series of tasks that we undertake, all the while feeling breathless and fatigued.

What do we gain? What have we lost?

Mindfulness takes us back to a simpler time when people did one thing at a time and did that thing well, deeply immersed in all it had to offer. All senses on high alert and committed to the task at hand.

It seems like a whole new phenomenon to us, but the wise minds of times gone by lived like that and benefited immeasurably from it.

For Day 1 of the Mindfulness Challenge, we are advised to have a mindful meal. 

All too often, food gets lost, hopelessly hidden amid the conversations and the fun times we've had eating it, the memories conjured up on eating a particular food or even the people we've eaten it with. If the food gets any attention, it's only in passing. We might be more likely to remark on it if it were slightly burnt, or badly cooked. 

Whether we are eating alone or in company, we do not spend too much time on the food itself. 

As part of my decision to be more mindful in everything I do, I will try to eat a more mindful meal at least once a week. 

As I look at the plate laden with food, I will remind myself to hear the strains of the Grace Before Meals that I learned at my mother's knee. I will say the Grace, slowly yet surely, enunciating each word in a manner that will soon be echoed in the way I savour each morsel of the food in my plate.

I will be fully present, with all my senses as I give each bite its due. Savouring its texture, as I chew, being grateful for the flavours it is suffused with, the warmth it fills me with.

I will be grateful for each of the ingredients and for how they have enhanced this meal.

Grateful for the value they have brought to my health, my well being, my joy.

I will see the meal for what it is, much needed fuel that is converted into the energy that I use through the day.
But the story should not end there.

I will see the food as a valuable conduit which connects me to known and unknown people. For others before me have blessed the food I eat.

From the farmers who blessed it with the sweat of their labours as they danced in the rain that would bless them with a harvest, to those people that were part of the chain of events that allowed it to come and rest on my plate. 

I will sense those connections and I will celebrate them.

I will turn off the distractions. The television. The smartphone screen. The newspaper. 

And concentrate on the food, and give it the respect it deserves.

I will chew the food thoroughly, instead of gulping the food down, as if eating is a chore that I want to tackle as soon as possible.

I will do this at least once a week. 

Hopefully, mindful eating will help me appreciate what I have.


  1. We discussed 'mindfulness' in yoga class a few weeks ago. My instructor told us of an eating exercise she had whereby she had to chew a piece of food for 15 minutes, savouring the food and appreciating the experience. Not sure I could do it myself.

  2. Denise, talk about food getting its 15 minutes of fame. I'm not sure I could chew something for 15 minutes. I'm even less sure that I would like doing that. But the aspect of being grateful, zero distractions, chewing food thoroughly, those are things that appeal to me. But 15 minutes of chewing? Count me out too.



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