Eating Meditation

by in Blog, Health, Why 19/01/2009


I read about "food meditation" in a book from a Buddhist author years ago. I can’t remember the book, but I’m sure the practice is described in some form in any eastern or Buddhist meditation book. Though it takes some discipline to do for every meal, when I do remember to do it my meals are much more satisfying. Its supposed to be good for weight loss as well.

It works like this: when you are eating, first before you take a bite be thankful that you have food to eat or say a short prayer in your head giving thanks for the meal. Before you dig in, pause briefly to admire the plate or bowl of food in front of you. Even if you’re eating plain oatmeal, notice the textures, smells, the stream rising from your hot food and dissipating in the air.

As you take your first bite, chew slowly, focusing on the flavors and textures. As you are chewing and swallowing, think about the origins of the ingredients in your food. If you are eating bread you can imagine beautiful wheat fields bending in the breeze, the sun illuminating the stocks. The wind makes waves in a golden ocean. You see the wheat is ready for harvesting and workers preparing to collect the bounty. Reflect on the wheat being mixed with other ingredients to make dough, which is kneaded by hand or by a machine. The dough is measure carefully and divided into baking trays. They trays are put in ovens that cause the dough to rise and turn shades of brown. The dough rises high from the top of the baking tray like a slow-motion explosion, until it become hot and fluffy bread. As you are eating you are grateful for this delicious meal and the people that are responsible for bringing it to your table.

As you practice this you can extend your gratefulness toward anyone people joining you for the meal. As you are cooking you can do the same, thinking about each special ingredient that when combined, form a completely unique taste.

When you meditate on your food this way, your meals will become much more satisfying. Instead of feeling dull and tired after a meal, you’ll feel energized and sharp.

I don’t think food meditation works well for meat eaters. I believe if one meditated on meat, they would be left feeling sad and depressed. Imagine it, you’re eating a hamburger from your friendly, neighborhood McDonald’s. Focusing on the texture of flesh and ground muscle in your mouth, then picturing the cow being marched into the slaughter house, the freighting sounds of loud machinery, the unholy stench, the sense that the herd is suffering, her family dying all around. The overwhelming anxiety and fear, she tries to run but she’s shocked by an electric prod back into place. She can’t run away, can’t escape. She scared, then its her turns and comes the physical pain of being shot in the head by the “knocker”. The lights slowly fade out. Her lifeless corpse is moved and cut up into sections while the body is still warm. The meat is packed, eventually makes it to the restaurant, your table and in your mouth. All the suffering, fear,and anxiety are in each bite, in the form of adrenaline and other stress hormones present in the blood when the she was killed.

As you can see, eating meditation doesn’t work too well with meat.

This is just an overview of the concept of eating meditation. If you want to read more I’m sure there are many books that cover the subject well.

  • Louche says:

    I used to be a meat-eater, and I can assure you that I thought I was eating meat mindfully. By the time I got to a monastery and practiced serious eating meditation, I was vegan. It made so much sense to me to meditate on food then. If I had been a meat-eater then, I probably would’ve thought again about my chosen diet. But as a meat-eater, I never did care if I was eating sinews or chicken veins or cow fat, much less about the unimagined suffering of the animals.

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