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Mindful Eating Practice

Mindful eating is a practice that involves bringing deep presence to your inner and outer experience while eating.

A 10-Step Practice

You are invited to pay attention to your whole experience — your environment, senses, heart, mind, impulses, and whatever else shows up.  

Give yourself some time to practice mindful eating. As best as you are able, create a contemplative space where you can reduce distractions. Invite yourself to slow down and be more present with your entire meal.

The Practice

  • Step 1: Take a moment to bring attention to your breath, body, emotions, and thoughts, noticing how you are — right now.
  • Step 2: Bring a curious and fresh awareness to your meal. Adopting an attitude of "beginner's mind." Imagine that this is the first and only time to be with this meal; in truth — it is.
  • Step 3: This meal is supporting your life. It's easy to overlook this simple yet, fundamental reality. Take time to honor, with gratitude, the fact that  you can receive sustenance. If you would like, take time to reflect on how many people, plants, animals, and other living beings made this meal possible.
  • Step 4: Before you begin eating, look down at your food. See if you can notice any urges (e.g., your mouth watering, the feeling of hunger) before you take a bite. This is an excellent place to practice choice over habits.
  • Step 5: Put a bite in your mouth. Notice how the food feels in your mouth and how it tastes. Before you swallow, notice the things that happen in your mouth when you put food in. Notice how you salivate, notice the urge to swallow. Notice the sensation of chewing. Engage all the senses. Notice the smells, appearances, sounds, temperature, texture, and flavor of your food and beverage.
  • Step 6: As you swallow your food, notice what that feels like. How does your stomach feel now that it is one bite fuller?
  • Step 7: Repeat your mindful eating for each bite until your meal is finished. Try to decide when the meal is finished based on the sensations in your body (e.g., the feeling of fullness in your belly, no more sensation of hunger) rather than on whether your plate is clean.
  • Step 8: As you practice mindful eating, see if you can notice arising within your heart and mind. What sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, and memories arise spontaneously? Allow them to rise and fall, just like the sensory experience of the meal.
  • Step 9: As you finish your meal, take time to reflect on your experience. Again, inviting gratitude for all that allowed you to become nourished, refueled, and refreshed.
  • Step 10: Before moving onto your next activity, reflect on the nutriments of your meal and how they gave you the vitality needed to live your life. What intentions are you bringing into your next actions, leading into the whole of your life?

“In this food I see clearly the presence of the entire universe supporting my existence.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh