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Lions Roar : January 2017
IN ZEN WE ARE INSTRUCTED, “When hungry, just eat.” Whenever we eat or drink we have the opportunity to turn our attention to the vivid clarity of this very moment of experience—if we take time to just eat. Too often we feel that eating is some- thing to get over quickly while we multi- task. We eat while talking on the phone or working on the computer. It is the sim- plicity of just that we need to turn toward. This moment is the only place where we are alive. Our original buddhana- ture, our natural mind, is not in some JAN CHOZEN BAYS is a Zen teacher, pediatrician, and author of Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joy- ful Relationship with Food. other place or some other time. It is, as the Shangpa tradition of Tibet says, “So close you can’t see it, so simple you can’t believe it.” The more time we spend in moments of alive-ness, the greater ease and satis- faction we will experience in our lives. Mindful eating gives us many opportuni- ties to be fully present and experience the liveliness that constantly arises in the vast field of open awareness. In mindful eating, we deliberately direct our full awareness to that liveli- ness, in the form of the bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions that arise and disappear as we eat. Most important, we do this without criticism or judgement. We bring clear attention and curiosity to the colors and shapes of our food (as if appreciating a work of art), to the chang- ing fragrances and flavors, to the textures and even the sounds of our food. Eating can be a dharma gate, because when we are truly present with anything we open the gate to Great Presence, which is an inexhaustible source of true nourish- ment. Here are five steps you can take to practice mindful eating during every meal. 1. Begin with Gratitude Begin your meal with a traditional grace, perhaps one from childhood. Or you can take a few silent moments to call to mind all the people (farmers, packagers, grocers, checkout people) and other life forms (insects, bees, earthworms) whose life energy has contributed to the food you are about to eat. ILLUSTRATIONSBYTOMIUM HOW TO PRACTICE Mindful Eating JAN CHOZEN BAYS teaches us how to make every meal a celebration of gratitude, enjoyment, and true nourishment. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2017 29 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE