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Lions Roar : July 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2011 33 Freeing yourself from grasping can actually increase the pleasure you can experience from the objects around you, whether you own them or not. You can recognize attraction itself, and relax into it as an experience of appreciation rather than of wanting. The object is all the more precious if it is then let go, freeing you to continue experiencing your world without getting stuck. Attraction is not a problem, trying to glue yourself to the object of your attraction is where the pain arises. In summary, there are three steps to reduce craving and lead a more satisfying life: recognize the wanting mind; relax your fixated attention; and offer the object of your desire— psychologically, physically, or both. As individuals, we have the opportunity to redirect the momentum of wanting into one of generosity and caring. This will go a long way toward transforming your mind and relieving the intense dissatisfaction that drives your craving. ♦ LET’S HAVE A TASTE of mindfulness. Take an apple out of your refrigerator. Any apple will do. Wash it. Dry it. Before taking a bite, pause for a moment. Look at the apple in your palm and ask yourself: When I eat an apple, am I really enjoying eating it? Or am I so preoccupied with other thoughts that I miss the delights that the apple offers me? If you are like most of us, you answer yes to the second question much more often than the first. For most of our lives, we have eaten apple after apple without giving it a second thought. Yet in this mindless way of eating, we have denied ourselves the many delights present in the simple act of eating an apple. Why do that, especially when it is so easy to truly enjoy the apple? The first thing is to give your undivided attention to eating the apple. When you eat the apple, just concentrate on eating the apple. Don’t think of anything else. And most important, be still. Don’t eat the apple while you are driving. Don’t eat it while you are walking. Don’t eat it while you are reading. Just be still. Being focused and slowing down will allow you to truly savor all the qualities the apple offers: its sweetness, aroma, freshness, juiciness, and crispness. Next, pick up the apple from the palm of your hand and take a moment to look at it again. Breathe in and out a few times consciously to help yourself focus and become more in touch with how you feel about the apple. Most of the time, we barely look at the apple we are eating. We grab it, take a bite, chew it quickly, and then swallow. This time, take note: What kind of apple is it? What color is it? How does it feel in your hand? What does it smell like? Going through these thoughts, you will begin to realize that the apple is not simply a quick snack to quiet a grumbling stomach. It is something more complex, something part of a greater whole. Then, give the apple a smile and, slowly, take a bite, and chew it. Be aware of your in-breath and out-breath a few times to help yourself concentrate solely on eating the apple: what it feels like in your mouth; what it tastes like; what it’s like to chew and swallow it. There is nothing else filling your mind as you chew—no projects, no deadlines, no worries, no “to do” list, no fears, no sorrow, no anger, no past, and no future. There is just the apple. When you chew, know what you are chewing. Chew slowly and completely, twenty to thirty times for each bite. Chew consciously, savoring the taste of the apple and its nourishment, immersing yourself in the experience 100 percent. This way, you really appreciate the apple as it is. And as you become fully aware of eating the apple, you also become fully aware of the present moment. You become fully engaged in the here and now. Living in the moment, you can really receive what the apple offers you, and you become more alive. ♦ THICH NHAT HANH is one of the world’s leading meditation teachers and the author of Peace Is Every Step. LILIAN CHEUNG is a lecturer and director of health promotion and communication at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition. Reprinted with permission of HarperOne from Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life. © 2010 by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung. All rights reserved. www.HarperOne.com Savor Sweet, juicy, crisp—THICH NHAT HANH and LILIAN CHEUNG on the pleasures of mindfully eating an apple. PHOTO©LAKHESIS/DREAMSTIME.COM