How to Eat

By mettabebe (Thich Nhat Hanh at festival in Da Nang) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has a series of small how to or mindfulness essentials books. My favourite is "How to Eat," which brings the concept of mindfulness to today's busy lifestyles table. Using short meditative entries, Thich Nhat Hanh guides us to a slowing down, a place of being aware of our own breathing and a state of gratitude, as he does in "Each Spoonful Contains the Universe." He encourages us, as we bring each spoonful to our mouth, to "be aware that this food is the gift of the whole universe," and that the earth, the sky and other elements have cooperated and collaborated to bring this one tiny mouthful to our table. Humbling. Gratitude inspiring!

Similarly, when I've observed the fasting tradition of the Greek Orthodox Church (in which I was raised), I reach a point where a simple boiled potato becomes a cherished and anticipated meal. Served straight from the pot in which it was cooked in salted water; peeled and garnished with a turn of the pepper mill, each mouthful is a treat and a gastronomic festival of purity and of gratitude and mindfulness.
Boiled potatoes, zucchini & Kale dressed with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil

We've come so far and so quickly to this point of high technology and internet communications. Perhaps it's now time to swing the pendulum a bit in the opposite direction. Slow down. Allow yourself to be hungry. Grow your own food if you can, or know where it came from and who grew it. Cook your own food--cook it simply, with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Enjoy the food--bite by slow bite--and offer gratitude for the beautiful bounty of simplicity, community and collaboration.