Fall: Eating as a Listening Practice
Fall can also be a wonderful transition period into a time of deep listening and reflection. If you can listen to yourself – all of yourself, face and be with your anxieties, your fears, your sorrows, as well as your joys and happiness, all that cognitive dissonance, the disconnect between body and mind can soften as you find more connection inwardly.
I recently went on a meditation retreat, which felt timely in supporting this transition inward, reconnecting with myself, and listening deeply during this seasonal transition from summer to autumn. I had an amazing experience while there that transformed my relationship to food, through the simple act redirecting my attention inwards. I’d like to share the practice with you today.
This practice can be helpful for those who are prone to overeating or under eating during the holidays.
Try to do this practice before at least 5 meals during the week for best results.
The Practice (Eating as Listening):
1. About 20 minutes before a meal, take some time out of your day by yourself to listen. Close your eyes and be still. Gently bring your attention to listening. Try to listen to sounds beyond your immediate environment as though listening from the outer edges of your ears. Allow thoughts to be there but continue directing your attention to your ears and to listening. The only objectives here are to still yourself and to actively listen. Do this until you get a feeling of sweetness (however you experience this) or a sense of relaxation.
2. When you feel some sense of sweetness or relaxation, open eyes softly, allow yourself to walk around a bit (you may need to walk to the place where you will be eating or maybe just take a walk in your yard or down the hallway at work or around the block). Keep your attention here still on listening from the outer edges of your ears -- listening to inner experiences and to the way your body wants to move. Walk slowly and see if you can find fullness, pleasure, relaxation, and sweetness in your movement, even if your stride feels different than usual.
3. When you have walked for a few minutes (or as long as feels good), continue to stay in touch with this feeling as you sit down to eat from this place of fullness and sweetness. Keep your attention on listening and your focus on the listening practice. Allow the food to enhance that experience, but be careful to keep your attention on your own feeling rather than shifting it to the outer experience of the food.
Why is this a helpful practice?
When we overeat or under eat we are trying to fill or manage emptiness and other undefinable messy feelings. By listening to the emptiness and this mess of feelings, we feel our fullness. By being okay with empty, we no longer feel empty.
If we eat from this place, eating is no longer about filling or about the food. The act of eating becomes about enhancing the experience and fullness that is already in us, waiting to be recognized and felt.
Please post comments, thoughts, and questions below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are the benefits of mindful eating?
A. A mindful approach to food and eating can be achieved through awareness, attention, and intention. When we eat mindfully, we are more aware of what we are doing without judgement or distraction. We are in the present moment and give our full attention to the food that we are eating.
Q. What are the consequences of overeating?
A. The consequences of overeating can vary from person to person. However, it is important to note that overeating has been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Q. What are the benefits of meditation before eating?
A. Meditation before eating is a technique that has been used for centuries to help people with their digestion. Meditation before eating can also be used to help people lose weight by regulating their appetite and controlling their cravings.