Mindfulness, what is it and how do I begin to practice it?
Let’s Start with eating.
Mindfulness is simply paying attention in a particular way. It involves being present in each moment so that you can appreciate and enjoy every moment.
A good example of not being mindful (I am guilty of this) is when we eat. If I eat whilst watching TV or when I am rushing, I am only barely aware of the physical sensations of the food entering my mouth, let alone my thoughts feelings or emotions. Usually I am thinking of at least 100 different things and not really enjoying the moment of eating.
Mindful eating is when we are purposefully aware of eating, we are consciously being aware of the process of eating. Chewing, tasting, swallowing. We’re deliberately noticing the sensations and our responses to those sensations. We’re noticing the mind wandering, and when it does wander we purposefully bring our attention back, back to the delicious food we are eating.
If I am eating mindfully I am also grateful for my food, grateful about where it came from and how it came to be on my plate. When we are feeling thankful there’s no room in our minds for negative thoughts.
I challenge you to have ago at eating mindfully this week. Have a go together with friends or family and if you have time just for fun have a go with the Raisin meditation.
Happy mindful eating.
Five minutes daily for at least a week. Evidence suggests that mindfulness increases the more you practice it.
HOW TO DO IT
1. Holding: First, take a raisin and hold it in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb.
2. Seeing: Take time to really focus on it; gaze at the raisin with care and full attention—imagine that you’ve just dropped in from Mars and have never seen an object like this before in your life. Let your eyes explore every part of it, examining the highlights where the light shines, the darker hollows, the folds and ridges, and any asymmetries or unique features.
3. Touching: Turn the raisin over between your fingers, exploring its texture. Maybe do this with your eyes closed if that enhances your sense of touch.
4. Smelling: Hold the raisin beneath your nose. With each inhalation, take in any smell, aroma, or fragrance that may arise. As you do this, notice anything interesting that may be happening in your mouth or stomach.
5. Placing: Now slowly bring the raisin up to your lips, noticing how your hand and arm know exactly how and where to position it. Gently place the raisin in your mouth; without chewing, noticing how it gets into your mouth in the first place. Spend a few moments focusing on the sensations of having it in your mouth, exploring it with your tongue.
6. Tasting: When you are ready, prepare to chew the raisin, noticing how and where it needs to be for chewing. Then, very consciously, take one or two bites into it and notice what happens in the aftermath, experiencing any waves of taste that emanate from it as you continue chewing. Without swallowing yet, notice the bare sensations of taste and texture in your mouth and how these may change over time, moment by moment. Also pay attention to any changes in the object itself.
7. Swallowing: When you feel ready to swallow the raisin, see if you can first detect the intention to swallow as it comes up, so that even this is experienced consciously before you actually swallow the raisin.
8. Following: Finally, see if you can feel what is left of the raisin moving down into your stomach, and sense how your body as a whole is feeling after you have completed this exercise.