My experiences with mindful eating have made me realize how much of my life has been spent living on autopilot. In thinking about my experiences when staying present throughout a meal, I quickly realized that there are a huge number of the activities I undertake throughout a normal day with only partial or minimal conscious attention and focus. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is at work, where I find myself almost continuously multi-tasking in a desperate effort to keep up with my workload. Whether it is working on a bid while speaking on the phone to someone, thinking about an upcoming meeting while answering emails, or approving invoices as I wait for my computer screen to refresh I have trained myself to habitually perform two or more tasks simultaneously. In my quest for efficiency, I all too seldom become truly engaged in an activity – giving it my full, undivided attention.
The more conscious I became of how unconscious I am throughout the day, the more I began to discover that the absence of mindfulness was pervasive in almost all of my activities. While I drive to work I listen to the radio or a CD while thinking about and \”planning\” the day ahead. When was the last time I just drove? I mean really drove my car – totally present and focused on the activity of driving, the situation all around me, without distracting myself with additional activities? Could it be that something as mundane as driving to and from work could become a sacred act if I devoted my full attention and concern on the act?
Certainly, the way I perceive and think about eating has changed forever as a result of my experiences of mindful eating during Lense. Eating is probably one of the most sacred and profound acts one undertakes and yet my guess is most people go through there entire lives like I did – gobbling their food without pausing to really experience and become engaged in the act of eating. And what is eating? It is the taking of life – all eating is essentially the act of life feeding on life in order to propagate life. Isn\’t that a mysterious and awe inspiring fact? The act of taking in and absorbing the life of another entity – whether it is a plant or an animal does not alter the fact that it is (or was) a living entity – in order to continue our life is one of the most intimate and sacred acts I can imagine! And yet how many of us multi-task when we eat – read a magazine, book, or newspaper; watch the television; listen to the radio; talk about the latest celebrity scandal or political faux pas? How often do we pause and truly honor the life we are taking in order to continue our own?
As an experiment, I would like to challenge you to share in the experience I have had during Lense. Pick a meal – any meal – and become totally present with what you are doing throughout the meal. Perceive everything you can about the food you are consuming – the look, the feel, the smell, the taste, and even the sounds associated with the act of chewing and swallowing your food. Really stop to consider how the food got to your plate, and how fortunate you are to be the entity that is eating, rather than the entity being eaten! If you really bring yourself present to this simple act, I guarantee you will never look at the experience of eating the same. Yes, you may fall back into the \”squat and gobble\” syndrome when you are rushed or under pressure, but a part of you deep within will remember the sacred truth that life depends on other life – always.