One day in Vietnam, I saw my sister cooking mindfully a meal for me and my children. Unconsciously, but profoundly, I was changed. Later on, I got to know Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Art of Mindful Living”. My life has never been the same.
My body is part of all that is
Have you ever taken time to eat mindfully and one day experience a strange feeling?
For a long time, I have been pondering upon a weird question. Where is the limit of me as a being. We cut our hair, we loose a hand. We may even loose our minds. People always identify you or me as a Sophie, or Marie, correct? All our cells are renewing every day. We are never the same person. But we are. So where is the limit of myself?
When I take time to eat mindfully a vegetable, a kale for example, I feel wonders. Because I am conscious that the kale literally becomes part of my cells when I eat it.
Also, each cell of my body receives air from a tree every second. And the water that I drink circulates at this moment inside my body. It also becomes me. One day I will return to the Earth. And it will be my turn to become them.
Eating mindfully brings to me the extra-ordinary experience that my body is part of all that is. It is a real joy for me to know this. I never asked again where the limit of myself was.
Receiving, not eating
If you ever participated in a zazen retreat, you might have experienced eating in a bowl as a Japanese monk.
When you eat a soup, the spoon is mindfully brought facing your face and your mouth. You receive the food as a baby receiving from his mother.
This is because the food is given to us by the whole universe. The sun, water, the Earth, living beings, all contributed to the soup in front of you.
You don’t eat. You receive.
When you can receive the food mindfully this way, you will feel profound joy.
Why do I eat less?
It might sound strange. But since I start eating mindfully, I don’t like any more French fries!
Want to know why? Because when you eat mindfully something, you taste profoundly what you eat. And guess what, I became conscious about so much fat and oil in them. Suddenly I just want to flee away from these crunchy monsters!
The same happens when you savor a few grains, some rice, or vegetables. You prefer them without any sauce. Just because they are so savory by themselves alone!
Try to eat mindfully, you will find that you eat naturally much less, and much more healthily!
Cook for my children
Preparing lunch boxes for your kids at school, sounds familiar?
I used to rush a lot. Sometimes the lunch boxes were full of sweet cakes and industrial biscuits.
When I take time to prepare mindfully a healthy meal for them, I feel joy. Because I know I am offering them love, and health.
In Vietnamese, the word “delicious” is “ngon lành”. ” Ngon” is savory, and “lành” is healthy. Savory goes with healthy.
I cut down some outdoor activities, just to have time to cook, without hurry, and mindfully, a meal for them.
Water for thirsty spirits
In a sesshin (zazen retreat), when monks eat, they leave a few grains of rice apart for hungry spirit. When they finish eating, they clean their bowl with water. Pour a few drops. And drink the rest.
When pouring water, they sing: “Dear thirsty spirits, please receive fragrant water that we used to clean our bowls. May your thirst be ever quenched”.
Think about many people, who are, at this moment in time, hungry and thirsty. And feel gratitude to the food and drink we receive.
You can guess. I feel immediately happier when I think about it.
My mother always eats with me
A few years ago, in our house in Louvain-La-Neuve, I had a plant with many young shoots. One day, the plant started to have yellow leaves and was dying. I decided to cut out the young shoots and put them again in the soil. Then I threw away the dead plant.
I always think about this plant and it’s young shoots.
My dear mother passed away eight years ago. Today when I eat alone, I know she is eating with me. I am like the young shoots that grow again to life. While the old plant is not there anymore, it’s the same body. My mother is in me.
Eating mindfully, I am always with her, and I am happy.
Cook mindfully for your children, receive food with gratitude, share a mindful meal with who you love. Like me, practice today mindful eating. And experience the profound joy it gives. Would you give it a try?
Buy Thich Nhat Hanh book: The Art of Mindful Living Audio