Mindful Eating - Beyond The Plate

Today's post comes from the Wild Elephant Project.  At the end of each week, we do a "practice review" where we recap the week's practice.  This week, I went a bit broader and shared what 5 weeks of practicing mindfulness has taught me.  

I thought it relevant to share with you here.


As I sit here typing this, my son’s elementary school is on lockdown.  (A weapon exchange was reported in a parking lot near his school.) 

We woke this morning to my son’s report that one of his new fish wasn’t moving.  (I ended up having to remove two dead fish from his tank.) 

Our dog, who had surgery 2 days ago, still hasn’t eaten anything.  (I will be getting special food from the vet and spoon feeding him this afternoon.)

And my mindful eating?  Let’s just say it hasn’t been so mindful.  Breakfast was gulped down as I figured out how to remove one fish from the filter.  I’ve grabbed for my iced chai more times than I can count as I navigate phone calls between the vet and my daughter’s backpack and lunchbox.


Outside, the snow falls and a dog barks.  My breath is a bit shallow.


I notice this.


This week has gone far different than I expected.  (Most interesting weeks do.)  The practice of mindful eating is one that I realized has the potential to make a profound difference in my life.  I plan to continue it long after this week is over. 


I recently picked up the book I mentioned by Jan Chozen Bays – Mindful Eating.  I look forward to reading what further she has to say on the practice.  (The book also comes with a CD ... for karma reasons, I plan to listen to it on the computer only after I buy it (this one is from the library...I don't want to download the tracks without buying it.))  If you happen to get this book as well, please let me know what you think!



Also, while we will leave our son’s sign up, I have also made my own art to remind us to JUST EAT.





 (Encaustic panels in progress.  Adding the time-consuming twine edging is a mindfulness practice all of it's own! Eventually these will hang on the wall in a place where all of us can point when we notice someone forgetting their food...)

I feel fortunate that we can continue the practice as a family.

As I’ve said in each post this week, the practice of mindful eating is one that is so vast and so entwined with other habits and emotions that I’m afraid of delving into even one lesson.  Honestly, I don’t know where to even begin.  I hope that you have had time to practice this on your own and to check out some of the resources in the last post.  If this practice has brought any awareness for you, I strongly encourage you to continue it.  (If it hasn’t, remember – that is ok!!)


For this week’s review, I want to broaden my parameters.  I want to share with you specific examples of the effects of practicing mindfulness.  Some of us have been practicing for nearly 5 weeks now, trying different techniques to inform our awareness.  Certain practices might have provided more insight than others.  But I have found something fascinating today: That the results of each practice have become greater than the weekly insights.  The overall mindful awareness has spilled into non-practice areas of my life.


Amidst all of the stressors this morning, I felt an unusual but welcome peacefulness deep within.  I was horribly shaken by having to remove two fish from the tank whose eyes had just met mine the day before.  (Yes, I’m emotional that way.  I’m ok with it.)  My heart aches for our poor dog who wears his cone and refuses to eat.  I’m fearful for my children – well beyond today’s lockdown.  And yet…


While driving to drop my daughter off at preschool, we passed a man carrying a container for gasoline.  He was followed by two small children wearing backpacks who were obviously struggling to keep up with him. 

There were many reasons not to stop – we were late, I didn’t know how safe it was – who he was, I had stuff galore piled in the van…  But in mindful awareness of the situation and WHO I TRULY AM in the midst of the situation, I found myself turning around.  We ended up giving him and his children a ride to the gas station and back to his car.


Shortly after this, I took Starbucks drinks to my husband and his co-workers.  This was in part to share my morning with him, but I found true joy in being able to bring a small bit of indulgence to their morning.


And here I am.  The snow still falls.


I know that using our non-dominant hand, picking up things instead of leaving them on the counter, watching our speech and how we express ourselves, loving our beautiful hands, and mindfully consuming our food can create momentary awareness and deeper insight.  What I hadn’t expected (or at least so soon) were the effects outside of the practice.


I am becoming more aware of who I am.  At my core, I am a deeply compassionate being.  I operate out of kindness and love.  When I am afraid or rushed, caught up in my ego-based emotions or the stories of another, I forget this.


Practicing mundane mindfulness (and incorporating ways to remember this practice) has helped align me with who I am, even outside of those moments of practice I act out of kindness instead of fear and I notice the snow falling. I am mindfully aware and present.  “I” am not here at all.


I cannot think of a better reason to practice.


I hope you do not mind this temporary diversion from the week’s practice review, but I feel this overview might speak to some who are finding specific practices not of use.


Keep going.  Keep practicing.  This mindful journey IS the way.  We’ll explore different paths, but there is nowhere to be but on the path we are on.


May you enjoy your dinner and the sun, a rushed breakfast and the clouds, the challenges and the snow.


Here’s to the journey.