Mindful Eating

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It’s quite possible to fully enjoy eating but still reject it as a recreational activity whether it be the supermarket impulse buy or the weekend all-you-can eat restaurant.

Are we enjoying quality food in the moment or chewing taste over in thought beforehand in a parody of consumption that the act itself can’t quite live up to? Pleasurising foods are designed as much for thinking about them as for eating, without the thinking beforehand they wouldn’t even work as products.

One finds the body has an innate intelligence of its own, possessing an internal gyroscope that rights itself through whatever tempests it sails through. It takes great perseverance of mental disorder to do sustained damage to it without protective automatic processes taking over and it’s a measure of our powers of self-destruction that humans are still able to do so.

The purpose of senses like taste and smell are to point the body toward wholesome substances and away from ingesting harmful ones. In general the role of sensitivity is to make the unwise unbearable.

A person deep in addiction for example will only come out of it by themselves when the pain clearly outweighs the pleasure of their habit.

In bringing the light of awareness to the dark places of the psyche we clear our course of action. Just to be aware for example of how we rush to gobble food – we breathe it in like smoke as if even liquid food wasn’t quite immediate enough for us – will slow the process down.

The sensation of light hunger as with the other senses can help bring consciousness into the here and now. Is the instinctive aversion to even the mildest hunger concern for the body or fear of the present moment, the exposure of our psychological and not physical bare bones?

What is anxiety but the inability to meet the present fully? Fear is the flight from the here and now.

Hunger feeds the total organism with the gentle physical and psychological tension that through nerves and muscles keeps it alert and on its feet.

We are used to the mind as a kind of dictator, ordering the body around as a serf and only paying heed to it when its pain is just too great to be ignored – even then we’ll take drugs in order to try. If however we really listen to the body we find it has its own ordering intelligence independent of our surface thoughts and petty desires. It’s a subtle but thrilling moment of liberation when it wrests control from the mind.

Such bodily governance free of the hyperactive mind is not just more peaceful but more effective too as idle thoughts of past or future can no longer interfere. The body unlike the mind can only live in the present and this is the cause of the conflict between them.

A plain vanilla consistency from day to day, moment to moment will get the job done. Celebrate the simple and quotidian. Instead of trying to raise yourself up with food raise yourself to food. It’s the difference between an external scaffolding and an internal one; we can be propped up as if by drugs or choose to be lifted by the bodies own energies. Daily highs will come from life itself and not substitutes for it.

Insight as art and science