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Mindful Monday: Engaging The Senses

May 3, 2010

Happy Monday!

In case you missed it, over the weekend I:

I hope you had a nice weekend and are ready for some tips for living a mindful life and eating mindfully! If you looked at my list of goals for May, you saw that eating mindfully and intuitively are both on there. I love to cook and I love delicious food, but I definitely am focusing more and more on really slowing down when I eat and enjoying the food, and practicing mindfulness techniques really helps me do this.

Last week I posted about honoring the food. I noticed I was best about reminding myself to do this in the mornings, and also better about it earlier in the week. I definitely started to slack again towards the weekend, but that’s why blogging about it is so great: I’m reminded again that this is something I want to do regularly, and I’m telling you hear that I intend to continue to practice honoring my food.

I also plan on Engaging all six senses when I eat. That is step two for eating mindfully, according to Thich Naht Hanh in Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Living. Are you wondering why he says six senses, not five? Is he suggesting we talk to dead people when we eat? Nope, in Buddhism there are six senses, and this is the most basic way to think of them:

  • Sight
  • Sound
  • Smell
  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Thoughts (your mind’s response to things)

When you eat, what senses do you think you use the most? You definitely see the food, and smell it if it’s got a rich odor, and hopefully you taste it. You might touch it with your fingers, depending on what it is. But how often do you hear it? How often are you aware of your thoughts while you’re eating?

To practice engaging all six senses for mindful eating, try to notice at least one thing about your meal that aligns with each sense. For instance, you’ve prepared a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. The oatmeal is topped with nuts and fruits and is served in a blue bowl. Once you’re done honoring the food, engage the senses:

  • See your food. Notice what colors are popping out at you, the steam rising from the bowl, the color of the bowl, the shape of it. Notice the shape of your spoon and the beauty of the way the table is set in front of you. Notice your surroundings.
  • Listen to the sounds your spoon makes against the bowl as you begin to eat. Hear the birds chirping outside your window. Notice what you hear as you chew your oatmeal. Do you hear different things when you crunch down on a nut?
  • Inhale the scents that surround you while you eat. What does your oatmeal smell like? Can you smell each individual item in your breakfast bowl, or does one over power the next? Are there other smells in the room that are fighting for attention?
  • Notice what you are touching while you eat. How does the spoon feel in your hand? How does the oatmeal feel against your tongue? Where is your free hand at this moment, and what it is it touching? What is the temperature of the food?
  • Taste each and every bite of your food. Does the tenth bite taste as good as the first? Does each bite offer something a little different, or do they all taste the same? What was your favorite bite of the meal?
  • Think about the food and how it was prepared and how you are reacting to it. Does your mind congratulate you for eating something healthy and filling? Is it telling you to hurry up so you can get to work? Is it chiding you for eating too few or too many calories? Is it wandering onto other topics besides the food you are eating? Try to bring it back to center.

Give this exercise a try at least one time today. Notice how much more you get from a meal than when you ignore what’s going on with your six senses.

Are you going to try to engage all six senses when eating? Have you tried to do so before?

Have a wonderful day!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 9:57 pm

    i love this new goal for eating! so often we forget to stop and really think about each sense — i would imagine most things would taste 100x more delicious! 😉

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