A Mindfulness Meal Meditation

To eat mindfully is to live in the present. It calls for paying attention to every act, every sensation and perception, for its own sake, in the moment. From the start to the finish of your meal, your intention is to link the moments together into a continuous stream of sensory awareness. Some suggestions:

Be mindful. To become focused, become silent and breathe in a relaxed manner. Choose a time when you’re not hurried or distracted by other things.

Visualize the meal. Become focused in your mind’s eye on what you’re going to prepare, its appearance, aroma, ingredients, etc.

Plan the meal. Mentally focus on all the steps involved in preparing the meal. Will you prepare it? For whom will you prepare it? What will you make?

Prepare the meal. Be mindful of the action of washing the food, such as vegetables you may be preparing for a fresh salad. Notice yourself reaching for the refrigerator door, and other preparation activities.

Set the table. The table on which you eat can be as sacred as the rest of the meal. Create a table that is inviting, for both you and the food.

Serve the meal. Be mindful of each action associated with serving the meal: selecting dishes and utensils, setting the table, bringing food to the table, etc.

Eat the meal. As with the Zen monastic meal, be mindful of each aspect of the food you’re eating. To begin consider saying words of thanks or appreciation for the food. Savor the aroma of the food by inhaling deeply.

Clean up. Regard this as a sacred process, too. It is just as important a part of the meal as the other phases.

Digest the food. After you’ve eaten, be aware of how the food feels in your stomach, how you’re feeling. Are you aware that you overate? Under-ate? Are you still hungry, or ate just the right amount?

From start to finish and throughout the dining process, continue to witness the effects of having prepared, eaten, and digested the meal. For in the witnessing lies the essence of life itself.

Adapted from Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul by Deborah Kesten.

Deborah Kesten, MPH, an international lifestyle and health researcher and Certified Health and Wellness Coach, was the nutritionist on Dean Ornish, MD’s first clinical trial for reversing heart disease through lifestyle changes without drugs or surgery, and Director of Nutrition on similar research in Europe. She also is the award-winning author of The Enlightened Diet, Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, and The Healing Secrets of Food. Visit her at www.Enlightened-Diet.com.

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W. C
W. C10 months ago

Thank you.

William C
William C10 months ago


Kimberly Lewis
Kimberly Lewis8 years ago

I love this article, being a Messianic Jew we find our daily meals are a great blessing! One starts thinking of all the different things in nature, like all the seasoning and spices we use, all the work everybody puts in to what we sustain ourselves, from the bumblebee down to the cashier and the grocery store. Our dietary habits in comparison to other creatures. It's a wonderful time to breathe in our life.

Andrea Jackman
Andrea Jackman8 years ago

Very Good topic, Hoping everyone reads this, Thank you

Tierney G.
Tierney G8 years ago

Very sensible advice that many good diet books try to explain. In other words "Eat to live not Live to eat" I live to eat most of the time!LOL! Bad I know.

Jenny Dooley
Jenny Dooley8 years ago

This article is valuable - thank you!

Dee M.
Dee Musgrove8 years ago

I never eat just because it is meal time, i only eat when i feel hungry,and i always leave the table feeling like i could eat it all again, never over eat, and i only eat healthy foods, lots of fruit and veges,chicken,and only red meat once in a while.

Chris B.
Chris B8 years ago

Barbara, your point is well taken, but I think that you're missing the gist. This practice is to bring you to the present moment. To appreciate what is happening to YOU, in the 'now'. All to often, we're caught up with our worldly lives that we tend to go through our day on auto-pilot, and miss seeing God in the details. To practice mindfulness is not dissecting in order to tear apart and nit-pick, it's merely being conscious, and grateful of all that you do, say and think. And yes, this practice may not be suited for everyone, because desire is critical to application.

Barbara B.
Barbara Brown8 years ago

I am mindful but if I stopped and thought of all these things before I prepared dinner, I would be exchusted.
1) be mindful
2)visualize the meal
3)plan meal
4)prepare meal
5)set table
6)serve meal
I know giving thanks is in here some where
7)eat meal
8)clean up
9)digest food
hmmm the effects-essence of life

I do this everyday without thinking because I enjoy this simple act. It comes naturally to me. What I don't understand is why everyone wants to break down everything that has some meaning in life to others and none to some. That is why we have freedom of speech. Today, evreyone breaks down everything into steps of life. We will all learn our own way in life and what is good for one may not be good for another.

Rajni Lerman
Caryn Lerman8 years ago

I think this is a good practice and one the helps us slow down and focus on gratitude.

The only thing that I would add to your mediation on food is to become aware of where your food is coming from and make a commitment to buy organics and from your local farmers.