An Exercise in Mindfulness

If you read my first paper on “Mindfulness”, you have an idea about what it means to be mindful.

Remember the story about waking up in the middle of the night? You would have been using almost all of your senses to determine whether you and your family were safe. You listened for any unusual noises. You looked around to see if anything was out of place or worse yet, moving. If there had been anything odd to feel you no doubt would have noticed it. What if the room had been unusually hot or cold? You probably would have noticed any odd smells.

The only sense that you may not have used was your sense of taste. Therefore, I decided to build this exercise on taste.

Prepare a small variety of foods, say four or five, and put a couple bites of each one on a plate where you can sit down and eat at leisure. Make sure you have a good mixture. Perhaps some meat, if you eat it, vegetables, raw and/or cooked, something starchy like potatoes and/or rice – just pick a nice variety. You night butter your rice or put dressing on your vegetables. I’m not asking you to eat something you don’t like.

Now, choose a utensil, sit down, and have a bite. Put the utensil down between bites and notice the food. Notice the taste. Is it sweet, sour, bitter, salty, or bland? Notice the color. Would the color be different if the food were raw/cooked?

Does this food make a sound as you chew it? To which side of your mouth does it go? Do you move it around with your tongue or your cheeks? Can you taste it if you don’t smell it? What does it smell like? What temperature is this food?

If you have thoughts that don’t apply to the exercise, that’s natural. Just let them come and then let them go. Don’t hang on to any thought that is not an observation of what you are eating.

Continue around the plate tasting other foods. What is its shape? Is it shiny or dull when the light hits it? Does it leave an aftertaste?

Does your breathing change as you chew and swallow the food? Does it vary from food to food?

With which utensil did you choose to eat?  Would your experience have been different if you had chosen something different with which to eat?

From time to time, notice how you are sitting. Do you change your position? Are you comfortable? Is there any pain or discomfort in your body?

Eat each food with these questions in mind. Did you notice things I didn’t mention? I would like to get some comments from you about what you noticed while eating mindfully. What did you learn?

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