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Zen Master Dogen is alleged to have taught that food is like medicine: in order for it to work it sometimes is bitter. You don't just eat what is pleasurable but you consider the health of your body and mind.

eating meditation

Zen Master Dogen is alleged to have taught that food is like medicine: in order for it to work it sometimes is bitter.  You don't just eat what is pleasurable but you consider the health of your body and mind.  Like medicine, food is only healthy if there is a beneficial balance; too much doesn't work, too little doesn't work.

We all have to eat, but we usually don’t pay much attention to what we are eating, how we are eating it, and with whom we are eating.  Eating in itself can become a drug that numbs our feelings and keeps us out-of-touch with ourselves.  Eating meditation is a practice that helps us to bring our full awareness to the process of eating.

Instructions on eating meditation

The best preparation for eating meditation is to be hungry and to know that less is often more.  When you sit down with a plate of food, before you start eating pause and take three conscious breaths.  Then recite this verse out loud or internally:

➢ This food is the gift of the whole universe, the earth, the sky and much hard work.

➢ May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it.

➣ May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially our greed.

➣ May we take only foods, which nourish us and prevent illness.

➣ We accept this food so that we may realize the path of practice of love, compassion, and peace.

Then start eating.  If possible eat in silence. Chew each bite of food 50 times.  The only thing that prevents you from doing this is swallowing the food too quickly.  We have a habit of immediately swallowing.  It's as if we simply want to get it over with - in and down.  Take your time to appreciate the wonderful gift of food, the smells, tastes, looks, and sounds.

Take fifteen minutes to practice eating meditation and your body will actually have a chance to inform you when you have eaten enough – a point that we often miss.  Your body will be extremely grateful not to receive unchewed food and not to get too much or too little food, so that it can continue to serve us.  At the end of the eating meditation breath in and out three times and say out loud or internally, thank you.

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