Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that I'm terribly successful at mindful eating. There are too many times that I rush through a meal without thinking, without enjoying, without being aware of all my senses and how they are engaged as I eat. It's too easy to go through the motions, to fill the belly and forget about full body satisfaction or appreciation of that which gives me life and energy. I often forget to savour the flavour.
Our friend from Winnipeg, Mark Burch, the man who brought Voluntary Simplicity to our attention, taught a course on VS at the university level. For one of his classes, he would bring in a box of oranges, one for each of his students, and teach them how to eat an orange mindfully, taking a full hour to do so. They were to be aware of every detail... how the moisture and fragrance from the orange spurted into the air as they began to peel it, how it felt in their hands, its texture and colour, the way it divided into sections, how the first bite tasted as compared to the second... you get the idea. All done very slowly, and with deep awareness.
I'm not saying that we need to be that aware of our food all the time. But as the video below explains, eating mindfully is a much healthier and happier way to go when it comes to nourishing ourselves, body and soul. For me, it's about a lot more than maintaining a healthy weight -- it's about living simply and appreciatively.
On Wednesday, our Christian calendar turned the page to the season of Lent, which traditionally is a time of fasting, giving alms, and making peace with God and each other in preparation for the great feast of Easter. But this year, rather than "giving up" sweets or coffee or chocolate as I usually do, I am opting for being more mindful of my food... where it comes from, how it engages my senses, and how blessed I am to have enough when so many simply don't. I'm trying to employ the Seven Practices of Mindful Eating, and I will also make a donation toward helping those who don't have enough. My daughters are organizing a "THINKfast" at their school to fundraise for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (see www.devp.org/sharelent). Monies raised will go to help with food security for our brothers and sisters in places like Africa, Brazil and Cambodia, to name just a few.
So not only can we be mindful of our own involvement with food, but we can also be mindful of the food of others. Maybe that's the eighth practice of mindful eating. All in all, a pretty good project for this Lent, if you ask me.
P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.