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Lions Roar : January 2017
changing flavors, temperatures, and tex- tures. Halfway through the meal, pause and have something to drink in order to refresh your palate. Pauses like this enable you to savor the freshness of more “first few bites.” 4. Slow Down It takes twenty minutes for satiety hor- mones to be released and reach the brain, signaling that we have had enough to eat. Slowing down can help us eat more appropriately and expose our condi- tioned habits. Try eating with your non-dominant hand. It’s fun and funny. Or try putting down the utensils between bites. Don’t take another bite until the first bite is fully chewed, enjoyed, and swallowed. If you want to eat less and enjoy it more, slow down. 5. Feed the Multitude Within There are more living organisms in your gut than there are human cells in your body. This “second genome” of 100 tril- lion beings is involved in many aspects of our health, including immune function, excess weight gain, heart health, and even mental health. (Note: the helpful bacteria thrive on “real food,” not processed food.) So after you eat, bring your awareness to the universe of tiny beings within your belly. Send them loving-kindness and a wish for their good health and continuing support of your body, heart, and mind. Finally, widen the field of loving-kind- ness with the prayer “May all beings be equally well nourished, both with food and drink and also with the most satisfy- ing food—the food of dharma.” ♦ Visualize them all gathered at your table and thank them. Research shows that a small ceremony before eating helps us eat more mindfully and in appropriate amounts. 2. Be Kind to Your Stomach Too often we live at a distance from our bodies and ignore the teachings they offer us in every moment. Before you take your first servings of food, bring your atten- tion to your stomach. How much volume would it be comfortable working with? One cup? Two cups? Three cups? Serve yourself two-thirds of that amount to begin. After you have eaten it, check in with your stomach again. How full is it? The tongue may say it wants more tastes, but does the stomach really want more volume to work with? We can learn to make such daily life decisions not from desire or compulsion but from overarching awareness. Awareness brings choice, and choice brings freedom. 3. Take Mindful First Bites Take a few minutes to savor the first few bites of food or sips of liquid. It helps to close your eyes and bring full aware- ness into your mouth. Pay attention to LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2017 30 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE