It has become increasingly difficult in our fast-paced world to find moments to take a pause. Yet, these moments are important to our overall health. Taking care of oneself, even if only in little snippets, is paramount to developing or (dare I say) maintaining good health.
Today is my day off and I decided to include a mindfulness exercise in my unorganized morning routine. Eating quickly, eating too much, and mindless eating are all unhealthy mealtime habits that most of us have adopted. This mindfulness activity can help create a peaceful moment in an otherwise busy day. In addition, regular mindfulness work can help reduce stress and increase positive thoughts and moods.
How does one engage in this mindfulness activity you ask? Great question! I chose breakfast for my mindfulness mealtime. If it’s your day off and you can only participate when your spouse is at work and the kids are at school then lunch may be better for you. Or the whole family can join in and you could practice this mindfulness activity at dinner.
- During your mindfulness activity focus solely on the meal.
- Do not read or engage in any other tasks.
- Look at how the food looks, the colors and textures.
- Take the first bite (or sip of a drink) and feel the food in your mouth.
- Notice temperature, taste, texture, and anything else.
- Chew slowly and mindfully with each bite.
- Be aware of changes in your body as you are eating.
- Take your time, don’t rush.
- As you complete the meal pay attention to how you feel.
- Notice the empty plate and any morsels of food left.
To get the full experience try to prepare your meal mindfully as well. I’ll use my breakfast as an example.
-Bring out all of your ingredients and notice how they are packaged and where they are from.
-Look and listen to the sounds as the pan is heating up and the oil is getting hot.
-Notice the pattern of the egg shell as you crack it. Listen to the instant sizzle as the egg falls into the pan.
-Add your seasoning, watch the salt disappear as it heats up and the pepper becomes incorporated as you gently stir the eggs.
-If you are making toast in a toaster oven, watch as the bread slowly gets darker.
-Be aware of the timer and the color of the fading coils in the oven.
-Bring out your plate and utensils, notice the shine and reflection, or maybe your dishwasher needs a tune up. 😊
-Watch the pat of butter melt on your toast for a bit before smearing it all over. See how it slides into the holes and cracks of the toasted bread.
-Place the eggs on the plate and notice how they slide out of the pan, or maybe they need to be scraped a little.
*This was only the preparation, keep reading for the enjoyment of the meal itself.
-Take a bite of toast and notice the crunchy texture that quickly turns soft as you chew.
-Taste the butter as it helps the toast become softer.
-Take a sip of hot coffee and notice the temperature. Taste the cream as you feel it coat your tongue.
-Use your fork to cut off some of the scrambled egg. Notice the difference in color from the whites and the yellow yolk.
-See the texture as you bring it closer. Taste the egg and feel the soft texture as you chew slowly and gently.
-When finishing, notice the tiny bits of egg left on the plate. The small crumbs from the toast. There is a drop of butter from the toast that has begun to harden.
-Sit still and discover how the food has made you feel. Notice the absence of hunger, the slightly full feeling. I am content but not stuffed or uncomfortable.
See, don’t you feel peaceful and relaxed after such a mindful meal! This activity may take more time than your regular breakfast or lunch routine, but it’s worth it.
Sometimes I like to think about where the food has come from as I prepare it. The chickens that hatched the eggs, the olive grower and the making of my olive oil. The baker who prepared the bread that I am toasting. Although sometimes this can take you away from the preparation or meal too much. Make sure not to let your mind wander or you will no longer be performing a mindfull act. Be in control of what you are thinking and completely aware of each part of the preparation and eating of the meal. Even the cleanup can be done mindfully!
You are not expected to enjoy a mindful meal each morning, noon, and night. But a mindful meal once or twice a week on your day off could add a few more years to your life. It could also create some bonding moments and be fun for the whole family.
My morning coffee in one of my favorite mugs, mindfully imbibed!