You’ll learn the benefits and get the instructions for three of the most powerful eating meditations in this article. Practicing these three meditations regularly, particularly the Mindful Eating Meditation, has the potential to totally transform your relationship to food and eating.
Mindful Eating Meditation
Mindful eating means paying to the sensations of eating, including sensations of smelling, tasting, chewing, and swallowing. It includes bringing awareness to your unconscious eating habits – such as eating too fast. Mindful eating also involves being aware of the body’s hunger and fullness signals, and its “this is the food I really need” (or don’t need) signals.
Instructions: For this exercise, use a very small piece of food, such as one raisin, nut, or cracker. First, explore this food with your sense of smell. What do you notice? Then take your first bite. Chew slowly, noticing the actual sensory experience of chewing and tasting. You don’t need to think about your food to experience it. Close your eyes for a moment to focus on the sensations of chewing, tasting, and swallowing. Notice if the intensity of the food’s flavor changes, moment to moment. Then take your second and final bite, following the same instructions. Afterwards, check in with your body. Is it sending signals of hunger, or of fullness? What does the body (not your mind) have to say about the food you ate? Welcome to mindful eating!
Mindful Breathing Meditation
Mindful breathing meditation involves bringing awareness to the physical sensations of breathing in your body. Practicing this meditation enhances your concentration, gets you in touch with your body, and can greatly diminish the stress that causes most “stress eating.”
Instructions: Close your eyes. Bring attention to the actual physical sensations of breathing in your body, wherever you feel them most strongly. You don’t have to think about the breath or visualize yourself breathing. Just keep your attention on the bodily sensations of breathing as you breathe normally. When you notice your attention has wandered to thoughts, bring it back to the breath. It takes practice to get the hang of this, but it’s well worth it. Next time you feel stressed out and want to eat, try a 3 or 5 minute mindful breathing meditation instead, and see what happens!
Minding the Body Meditation
Minding the body meditation (also known as body scanning) involves bringing awareness to the “inner” body, letting your awareness naturally relax and heal the body’s tension and stress. Most bodies are crying out for awareness!
Instructions: A full body scan takes 30 to 45 minutes, but this brief version only takes a few minutes. Close your eyes and take 1-2 minutes to scan your “inner body” with your awareness to find the places that are most tense and contracted. Take the next 3-5 minutes to be mindfully aware of these places. There’s no need to force anything to relax. Just paying mindful attention to different parts of your body will gradually relax tense and contracted muscles. End by taking several deep breaths. This meditation begins to heal the split that most people feel between mind and body, which is the cause of most out-of-control eating.
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