Be Present, Eat Lunch.
There I was, rushing again. Through feeding the dog, washing my face with warm water and even drinking my beloved coffee, which probably makes me rush more. I recently began taking a Mindfulness and Meditation class, two topics that I have been dabbling in for the past year. How ironic.
Mindfulness is a new household word that is thrown around quite a bit. It is starting to show up in hospitals, schools, prisons and in the management of stress in everyday life.
My definition of mindfulness, as I know it, “is bringing awareness to the present moment, noticing your thoughts, sensations and emotions and accepting them just as they are.”
Each week in class, we are given a few homework assignments to be completed everyday. This week, one of the assignments was to eat a single meal of the day mindfully. As you read my definition before, I was to eat one meal a day “bringing awareness to the present moment, noticing my thoughts, sensations and emotions and accepting them just as they are”.
The other instructions were to eat in complete silence, without distractions like reading, listening to music, talking to someone or writing and be 100% present with the act of eating the meal. I thought, out of all of the assignments given that week, I would enjoy and thrive on this one. I eat well, I love to eat and I love myself. Boom- the perfect recipe to be mindful at my meal!
Things did not go exactly as planned. On day one, I sat down at the table for lunch alone. There were no magazines or a computer in front of me like usual. It was just me. I bit into my food. The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t like the taste. It was bland. I continued to eat and before I knew it, my food was done. I didn’t even remember eating the rest of it. But I did remember the first bite.
Notice what comes up for you. “That first bite. The feeling like the food was unworthy of being in my mouth.” After that I had completely forgotten that I was doing an exercise of eating mindfully at all! My mind went everywhere else. It went everywhere but to the awareness of eating my food. It went to the story of the day, that replays in my head like a skipping record. The story of me, the one that I am rarely aware of but is incessantly flooding my brain. I screwed up the assignment. I did a bad job because I wasn’t mindful at all.
The things that frustrated me the most about this were:
-I didn’t enjoy my meal that was meant to nourish my body.
-I didn’t enjoy the bland food on my plate because I rushed around preparing and put very little effort into making it special.
-The act of making my food was mindless in and of itself.
-The act of eating my food was mindful for probably 60 seconds and then mindless, just like the making of it.
-I spent my time sitting at the table mindlessly eating my food and mindfully playing the broken record of “Andrea’s story” in my head.
Before I knew it, one of the three meals that I have to fuel me, enjoy and be fully present with, was over. I completely missed the train.
That was my reality today. And I had to ask myself truthfully, is that the way I live every day? Am I missing out on 1/3 of the opportunities I have to enjoy my food?
The reason this pissed me off so much is because I love food. I love flavors. I love the sensation of biting into something incredibly orgasmic. I get excited to eat because I know that food can heal me. I love sharing food with friends and loved ones. I also love that food can spark up a memory of something from my past.
My experience of being mindful at lunch really hit me hard. It is so real, honest and authentic to the parts of me that rush and showed me something about myself that I don’t often notice. I crave pleasure. I crave being fully present and “in the moment” like those bumper stickers say. But it seems like I don’t know how to experience this pleasure unless I allow myself to make space for it. In comes the mindfulness part.
What a crazy thing it is to notice this deprivation of presence. It only leaves room for an opportunity to grow. If being mindless lives in my lunch, where else does it live?
“If you are going to drink tea, drink tea.”
This is a quote that I read in a book on spirituality by Ram Dass. It enters my mind often. If you are going to drink tea, drink tea! Don’t read, do laundry, feed the dog and rush through it.
Be present. Drink tea.
Make love to your partner.
Be. Here. Now.