This week’s exercise was to be mindful when eating: to just eat and do nothing else. This one was pretty easy to remember to do (I find it’s easier when there is a set time/situation to do the exercise) but still challenging to follow through on. Usually I read The Economist while I eat breakfast, so giving that up for the week was disappointing. But I managed to do that and to avoid doing things while eating other meals or snacks. And yet I often found my mind wandering as I ate, rather than paying mindful attention to what I was eating.
This exercise is meant to show us how little importance we place on eating. We almost always do something else while we’re eating. We even feel foolish if we’re not doing something else. I spent a lot of time traveling alone in Europe during college and I always brought a book with me whenever I went out to eat. Granted, that was largely because I’m obsessed with reading. But there was certainly also an element of needing to feel like I was “doing something” because just eating wasn’t enough.
One night last week, while doing this exercise, I was sitting on the couch just eating some dried cranberries when I literally had a moment where I was afraid David was going to look over at me and wonder what the hell I was doing. Because apparently it’s that much of a bizarre waste of time for a person to just eat without also reading, watching tv or playing on the internet. Oops.
The other element of this exercise was to be mindful of what you’re eating: pay attention to how it tastes, the texture, the smell, etc. This was eye-opening for me. It made me realize how many things I eat just to satisfy some craving or hunger without really thinking about what it is that I’m eating. When I actually paid attention to some of the things that I was eating I really didn’t want to be eating them anymore. One night we had pizza (we try not to eat pizza too much, but David and I were both sick, Adeline wasn’t sleeping well, it was a pizza kind of night). In the past I would have just gobbled it down, enjoying the greasy, cheesy, yumminess that is pizza. But this time I felt disgusted with myself and almost couldn’t eat it. This exercise made me want to eat healthy foods in a whole different way than I had wanted to before – not just for the health benefits or the weight benefits, but because the food itself feels better to eat.
This week’s exercise is “True Compliments: once a day give someone close to you a genuine compliment.”