- Mental Health
The Benefits of Practicing of Mindful Eating
What is mindful eating?
Eating is already an integral part and essential nature of every living being, most especially that of human being simply because eating is indispensable to sustain life. But what is the difference between mindful eating and the ordinary eating that we normally do? What is mindful eating, anyway, and what are its benefits? Why is it important that we practice mindful eating from time to time or even better, practice it on a regular basis?
Simply put, mindful eating is paying full attention (body, mind and spirit) or being totally present to whatever the person is taking in as food or nourishment at the moment as is and without any judgment, either good or bad. The object of attention is the act of eating at the present moment and the food that is being consumed. Thus, as in the normal process of eating, it initially employ all the body sense organs, such as, the eyes for seeing, ears for hearing, skin for touching, nose for smelling, and tongue for tasting. Yet, this is done in a rather slow and very focused way. This, definitely, relaxes the body and mind of the person.
From the body sense organs, we can then take eating into the next level which would involve paying attention through the inner sensory organs of our inner being or soul and becoming aware of the inner and subtle sensations that unfold at the moment, that is, inner seeing, inner smelling, inner touching, inner hearing, and inner tasting. Done in this manner, one could say that mindful eating is none other than assuming a prayerful or reverential posture of eating. It is taking eating as a medium or way of being present in the body, mind and spirit as one in the moment. Therefore, eating, if mindfully done, can allow for the integration of the whole human being, first, within himself, and with his external world as well.
Why is this integration necessary? Mindful eating is a definite and positive way to be intimate with the body, loving it, enjoying and caring for it. In the practice of mindful eating, and if done regularly as a spiritual practice, and as in in any other mindful practices, the mind is not in-charge; mind is set aside or relegated at the sideline. At first glance, it seems ironic, calling it mindful and yet the mind is not in control. In a sense, we just put the mind where it properly belongs at the moment . . . at the sideline. We silence the mind, and instead, we allow the body to become a tool through which the spirit can truly animate and make the person experience full aliveness. . . as contrasted to being alive only in the head. As Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the prominent exponents of mindful practices, used to say: "let the doing come from being".
Benefits of mindful eating
The advantage of mindful eating practice is that it is a very simple exercise since eating is a normal activity which we do at least three times a day. We don't need to go far nor we need to buy special gadgets. It is free and can be practice anytime, anywhere, as we are, wherever we are . .. at home, in the office, at the restaurants, in school, etc.. The only requirement is that we are willing to practice and that we make the time.
Here are some of the possible benefits that a practitioner may derive from mindful eating in an outline form:
1. Mindful eating promotes overall health. It calms the nerves, thus, relaxes the body and helps reduce stress.
2. It promotes physical health. The slow motion chewing enables better mastication of the food, allowing more nutrients to be assimilated into the organs of the body.
3. It enhances the pleasure derived from a very simply act of eating. And with enhanced sensory pleasure, it generates more happiness.
4. It makes the person appreciates better the food he eats, and life in general.
5. It promotes mental health. It fosters peaceful and more stable mind, and eventually encourages the development of the ability for a more gentle disposition.
6. It awakens all the senses, external and internal, of the person making him feel that he is fully alive.
7. From a simple yet judicious practice of mindful eating, the practice can easily expand to other daily activities like walking, driving, answering the phone, swimming, washing, etc.. In the process, this may lead to the practice of mindful living, making the person more integrated and more appreciative of life, and a happier, more creative individual for himself, for his family and for the entire community.
A good friend who have been practicing mindfulness including mindful eating shared that she can attribute her more positive mood, feeling happy with less complaining to her mindful practices. Also, she noticed that she has now a better focus in doing paper works attendant to her job of coaching individuals with special needs.
MIndful Eating is for a Healthy Life- Seven Practices of Mindful Eating from HARVARD School of Public Health
Mindful eating practices
One of my favorite mindful eating experiences is from one actual practice I learned from Jon Kabat-Zinn involving the eating of two pieces of raisins. There's no substitute in knowing this practice except through personal experience, that is saying, you have to do it personally in order to fully appreciate it yourself and also to get the benefits. For guidance on how the practice is being actually executed, most especially for the benefit of beginners and for those who are truly interested, you may get a copy of any of the books of the prominent practitioners like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Thich Nhat Hanh and many more. Go to this hub for more information about mindfulness definition.
Mindful drinking is so simple since it only involves the normal drinking of a glass of water. Since any mindful act is also in essence a kind of meditation practice, this can also be called a meditation on drinking of water.
Place a water-filled glass on a table. Pay attention by looking at the glass of water, as if drinking it through your eyes. Then, very slowly extend your hand toward the glass, touching and holding it through your palm and fingers feel the texture and temperature of the glass. Is it hot or cold? Just feel it, do not label.
Then, slowly get it closer to your nose. How does it smell? Slowly, get is closer to your lips, still feeling the texture and temperature and watching the glass as it comes closer to your lips. Feel the glass on your lips, slowly drinking the water, feeling the water on your tongue, hearing the sound as it passes it through your throat and its feel inside your body. Do this for every gulp of water until the glass is empty. Feel the fullness in your tummy. Then, be thankful for another simple hydrating and mindful experience.
Considering that for health reasons humans are normally required to take at least six to eight glasses of water daily, perhaps, you may just want to pick one or two glasses as special ones for your mindful drinking and you're off for a good start on your daily practice.
Just do it. Enjoy your mindful eating and mindful drinking!