A Common Meditation Technique Could Help You Eat More Mindfully
Most of us eat mindlessly. We're rushing and stuffing ourselves as we get from point A to point B. We get so engrossed in our conversation at dinner or are thinking about the ongoing to-do list in our heads that we end up eating the whole plate, barely noticing how it tasted. It doesn't help that the standard portion sizes in restaurants are growing, and if we don't notice our hunger cues or consciously decide to stop, we'll probably just keep eating.
Mindful eating is the practice of just that - being mindful when you eat. Paying attention to the flavor, smell, texture of food and noticing how it makes you feel. A common lesson when learning about mindful eating is called the raisin exercise. It might seem silly at first, but it's surprisingly powerful.
- Sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet place.
- Take one raisin and place it in your hand. Imagine you have no idea what a raisin is and this is the first time you’re seeing one.
- Look at it. Notice the wrinkles, the color, the size, and feel the weight. Really look at it. Hold it up to the light and notice how it looks in different perspectives.
- Bring the raisin to your nose and smell it. Close your eyes and smell again.
- Bring the raisin to your ear and roll it in your fingers and listen. Close your eyes and listen.
- Place the raisin in between your lips, not yet in your mouth. How does it feel? Can you taste anything? Is your mouth watering?
- Place the raisin in your mouth and move it around without chewing. How does it feel in your mouth? On your tongue, against your cheeks, in your teeth. Is your mouth watering now? Can you taste anything? How does it taste?
- Finally start to chew. What does chewing feel like? Can you feel your jaw and/or teeth? How does it taste now? How does it feel? What does a chewed raisin feel like in your mouth?
- And finally, when ready, swallow. Take note of how your mouth and throat feel.
Do this exercise very slowly. Not only will it help you appreciate your food, but it can open your eyes to how fast we eat and how unaware we are while eating.