Free Audio: Mindfulness Meal Meditation

Free Audio

MINDFULNESS MEAL MEDITATION
Creating Conscious Connection

Because “flavoring” meals with a meditative sensibility can make a big difference in your weight and well-being, this SPECIAL FEATURE article, “The Mindfulness Meal Meditation,” includes a FREE AUDIO for you to use each time you eat. The benefit: Listen to our MINDFULNESS MEAL MEDITATION to practice focused awareness while eating, and both you and your waistline will be poised to reap the rewards.

 

— By Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz —

 

“The quality of one’s life depends on the quality of attention,” writes Deepak Chopra in Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. So, too, with your weight and well-being, which are strongly influenced by the “quality of attention” you bring to food and eating. Not only may mindfulness—paying attention, intentionally, while eating—affect your weight, it also holds the power to improve your peace of mind, digestion, the absorption of nutrients, and more. (See “The Weight Loss Power of Mindfulness” for more about mindfulness and its power to ward off weight.)

In this post, we cordially invite you to join us in our Mindfulness Meal Meditation. We created a free audio version of our food meditation to up your odds of weight loss. As you’ll hear, our meditation includes the scientifically sound, weight-loss “ingredients” of optimal eating we’ve been telling you about on MakeWeightLossLast.com: mindfulness, but also feelings, appreciation, connection, atmosphere, sensory regard, fresh food, socializing, and more (see our 10 “In Action” steps) with the 3 programs.

 

Meet Ancient/New Meditation

Meditation. In the East, yogis say it leads to a super-conscious state that emerges from the cessation of thought; Taoists tell us it helps “to come into harmony with all things and all moments”;1 while believers of Zen Buddhism present it as a path to sudden illumination.2 In the West, meditation has more often been linked to the mystical and monastic. For instance, the Cabala, a Jewish mystical teaching, turns to it to carry consciousness through various “gateways”; while early Christian monks and saints used it as a stringent contemplative process to achieve spiritual exaltation.

A tradition for thousands of years, the word “meditation” comes from the Latin meditari, which implies “deep, continued reflection, a concentrated dwelling in thought.”3 But while it is often linked with the concept of contemplation, it may also involve emptying the mind by eliminating thoughts from consciousness (apophatic meditation), or holding a specific image, idea, or word in the “mind’s eye” (cataphalic meditation).

Whether the source of meditation techniques comes from ancient Eastern or Western traditions—or the modern trend to merge meditation techniques with medicine to manage stress—the goal is the same: to enhance relaxation and self-awareness, and suffuse the mind, heart, and soul with a sense of unity, union, and connection.

 

Creating Conscious Connection

The intention behind our mindfulness meal meditation is to show you how to use meditation to connect to food and eating in a way that balances body, mind, and soul, so in the process, you up your odds of losing weight and keeping it off (see “The Weight Loss Power of Mindfulness” for more about meditation and weight). Achieving such success calls for creating a conscious connection to food.

Two time-honored techniques empower you to more effectively cultivate and integrate the benefits of meditation into your daily menu: mudras (hand gestures) and mantras (repeated phrases). Both skills may be used as you get ready to practice the meal meditation, which we will lead you through later in this post, and in the step-by-step audio we’ve created for you. Here are some key concepts about mudras and mantras you may find useful for optimizing your meditation experience:

Making mudras. Over the centuries, mudras—hand and body gestures that are believed to channel energy in the body and breath—have evolved to call the meditator silently to a deeper experience of meditation. In the West, the most familiar mudra is the gesture of veneration. Hands placed together in front of the chest, palms touching, fingertip to fingertip, this is the traditional gesture of respect and devotion that has become the very emblem of prayer.

Meaningful mantras. Imagine that you are preparing food a meal. As you cook, your thoughts float from one topic to another: an impending deadline, taxes, visitors you’re expecting next week, and so on. Distracted, you suddenly knock over a glass, then spend the next few minutes sweeping up the broken pieces. Feeling frustrated, you realize you dropped the glass because you were distracted. How do you avoid this type of scenario? Become more aware of what you’re doing. To accomplish this, you repeat the phrase “I remain focused on the food” both silently to yourself and sometimes out loud as you prepare the rest of the meal. Such a repeated phrase is called a mantra.

Whether through hand gestures, repeated phrases, blessings, prayers, or chanting, bringing a meditative consciousness filled with loving regard for food has stood at the center of creating conscious connection—for ages.

 

The Mindfulness Meal Meditation

Here are the key steps you’ll need to practice, internalize, and integrate our Mindfulness Meal Meditation into each eating experience. The AUDIO version that follows will lead you through the meditation in more detail.

Begin by relaxing. To start the heart dance between you and your food, position yourself the same way each time you dine. Whatever position you choose, over time it will become a gentle reminder that leads you into the meditation. Now simply relax by inhaling deeply, then exhale slowly. Do this three times.

Visualize. Next, envision a ball of liquid golden light several inches above your head. Then imagine it melting, then flowing through your head and body, down to your feet.

Create a mudra. Continuing to envision golden light emanating from your body—especially from your heart center and hands—position your hands as if there were a small beach ball hovering just over your food and your hands are holding that beach ball.

Choose fresh foods. Holding regard for food in your heart, focus on what you are eating. Is the food in front of you fresh and whole? Does the meal include fresh, whole plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and peas, nuts and seeds)? And/or lean fish, poultry or meat? Or is it fast food and processed? In other words, have you taken the time to  choose food that is a positive life force, a nurturer, a gift that recharges and sustains? (See “Eat Fresh, Weigh Less.”)

Unite socially. If you are dining with others, envision a ray or thread of the golden liquid connecting your heart center to the heart center of the other person or people at the table. If you’re alone, connect the golden thread to a memory of a person, or people, with whom you’ve enjoyed memorable meals.

Tune into feelings. Continuing to relax and breathe deeply, identify how you are feeling. First, are you feeling hungry? And if so, how hungry: a little, somewhat, or a lot? Use this knowledge to make a decision about how much or how little you want to eat. Also, are you filled with positive, loving emotions? Or do you need to release negative emotions, such as anger and anxiety, before eating? (See “Overcoming Emotional Eating.”)

Practice mindfulness. Eating mindfully includes being aware of what, where, with whom, and when you’re eating. It also includes awareness that the senses play a significant part in helping you to remain meditative. Look at the food in front of you. “Taste” the colors first. Is there a lot of food? Or not? Is the fragrance and flavor of the food sweet or sour? What kinds of sounds surround you? Are you—and the surrounding atmosphere—calm and quiet? Continue to focus mindfully on the food and environs throughout your meal.

Be appreciative. Continuing to hold the ball mudra while remaining in a state of calm, relaxed appreciation—for a person or place, or especially for the food before you—express your gratitude with a mantra, blessing, or prayer of choice, or simply say “thanks” for the food in front of you.

Create connection. Connecting with food calls for evoking loving intention and then projecting it onto the food. To do this, focus again on the golden energy flowing through you. As your hands continue to surround both sides of the dish, through visualization, project rays of this golden light into your food. In this way, you “flavor” your food with loving intention.

Now, feeling relaxed and calm, with awareness of your environment and feelings, with mindfulness, appreciation, with a sense of loving connection in you heart, and nonjudgmental attention on your food, it is time to begin the extraordinary experience of eating.

 

Special Feature

FREE AUDIO: MINDFULNESS MEAL MEDITATION

new slider 3Each time you practice the mindfulness meal meditation, you’ll be metabolizing the ultimate “multiple vitamin,” one that holds the power to nourish not only your physical health but also your social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. As you get better at weaving together each moment of the meditation, consider using it whenever you’re involved in any food-related activity—from planting and harvesting to planning a meal, shopping, eating, clearing the table, digesting, doing dishes.

CLICK to download and listen to the audio of “The Mindfulness Meal Meditation.”

 

References:

  1. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living (New York: Delacorte Press, 1990), 440.
  2. Richard Cavendish, ed., Man, Myth and Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown (N. Bellmore, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corp., 1987), 12:1677-1680.
  3. Mircea Eliade, ed., The Encyclopedia of Religion (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1987), 325.

 

Related:
“The Weight Loss Power of Mindfulness”

Read:
“The Healing Secret of Mindfulness” in The Healing Secrets of Food
“Focus on Food” in Make Weight Loss Last

Next post:
Think outside the diet to make weight loss last with our “Discover the 4 Facets of Food — and Their Power to Heal” posted on our NewView blog.

You’ll get plenty of clarity about what’s true and useful—or not—by keeping up with nutritionist Deborah Kesten, MPH, and research scientist Larry Scherwitz, PhD, the writers of this post, by liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, or sending us an email.

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