An Eating Meditation for Thanksgiving

I offer this practice of eating meditation so that you might use it for Thanksgiving, or any other day.  yun_8033To eat mindfully is to give thanks. The mindfulness is the expression of gratitude.

To begin, I shut down all my electronics, set a timer for twenty minutes, and give my full attention to eating my food. First, I look at my plate. I offer gratitude to the food and all the causes and conditions that came together to make it possible. I try to see the sunlight and the soil in the food, to imagine the earthworms and the rain. I think of the person who might have picked the vegetables, the truck driver who transported it, and the cashier who sold it to me. I tell the story of the food, and I try to see both its joy and its suffering. I see that we have all worked together as a community to manifest this food, and that it was born of love. I also think about my own ancestors who have harvested and eaten similar foods. I think of my parents, loved ones, and teachers, who have made me who I am, and I see that I too, am born of love.

I then focus my attention inward, hoping that in these twenty minutes I might send myself love through the food and send it out into the world as energy. I set the intention of transforming any fears of lack and cultivating generosity towards others and myself. I then send out a wish for all people to have something to eat. I also acknowledge that my way of eating impacts them too, and that it impacts the earth. Finally, I set an intention for the food to fuel my service to others in helping make the world more equitable.

This takes only a few minutes, and I often use what are called “The Five Contemplations” offered in a Buddhist tradition to cover all of these aspects of my meditation.

Afterwards, I begin to eat. I try to focus on each bite, chewing slowly and tasting all of the flavors of the food. When I realize I’m distracted by thoughts, I simply bring my attention back to the movement of my jaws and teeth, the weight of the substance in my mouth. In between bites, I drop my fork and take sips of water.

Sometimes I still finish before the twenty minutes is up, and I simply notice the fullness of my belly as it rises and falls with my breathing. I feel the fullness of not only my physical form, but also the sense of wholeness this practice offers.

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