This exercise was to eat your food one bite at a time, putting down your fork in between bites and finishing the bite you’ve just taken before taking another one.
Let me start by saying, this exercise is nearly impossible with a small child. It just is, ok?
When Adeline was ten days old, my parents came to see us and cook us Thanksgiving dinner. They made a great meal for us and then we all sat down to eat. Adeline was asleep in my arms. Even at ten days old, she was already fussy. So I ate as fast as I could, just in case she woke before I was done. Not to mention, I was at the very beginning phases of breastfeeding and I’d never been so hungry in my life. A few weeks later my sister came to visit and made a wonderful Bolognese and I had about five servings in ten minutes. Seriously.
All of that fast eating quickly became a habit. And as Addie got older it only got worse. Now she’s not just fussy, she climbs into my lap and eats my food if I don’t eat it first. It’s hard to pay attention to what I’m eating when I spend most of the meal making sure she doesn’t grab my knife or climb on the table or dump over her water cup. I’d rather just eat as quickly as possible and get it over with before we reach meltdown level.
Despite the challenges, I tried to do this exercise as much as possible over the last two weeks. I discovered that my normal eating pattern is to put a bite in my mouth and then immediately get another bite loaded up and put it in my mouth without having anywhere near finished the first bite. I also discovered that I hardly chew my food at all – I just swallow it nearly whole. Which is kind of bizarre, because I love food. Shouldn’t I be spending as much time as possible enjoying it? Again, the toddler is an exacerbating factor, but I think most people eat like this.
This exercise taught me to be more mindful when I’m eating and to try to slow down a little. I’m not sure if Addie got the memo, though. She seems pretty intent on disrupting all my efforts.
The next exercise is “Endless Desires: As often as possible during the day, become aware of the arising of desire.”