I do not know how it is for others when it comes to eat mindfully in the presence of family and friends, but for me, in my very talkative culture, to remain a mindful eater when I am surrounded by people is not an easy task. When I am out eating at a party or a restaurant, or when I invite people over to eat at my house, I easily get distracted and go on autopilot mode, the easiest route. My mind behaves like an eager child at a toy store who wants to take home all the toys and play with all of them at the same time.
When I have guests for supper, I want to be a good host and be a part of the conversation everybody is having. I also want to keep an eye on my children and check they are behaving well. And I want to savor the food and eat the right amount. All at the same time! Taking care of all my wants and being aware of my nine hungers can be really challenging.
I have discovered that when I see myself in this kind of mind trap around food, I intuitively focus on four of the nine hungers: eyes, ears, heart and stomach hungers. These four are the ones that most quickly send me on autopilot. Paying attention to these seems to help me stay more mindful about the food I eat.
With my eyes, I enjoy the scene: family and friends gathered together at a special occasion. I enjoy seeing them laughing, talking, simply spending time together. I also appreciate the colors and textures of the food in front of us. If I am the host, I see myself going back and forth from the kitchen to the table, serving others and enjoying doing it.
My ear hunger is also being fulfilled with laughter and conversation, but I’m not making that consciously happen. All those wonderful sounds go straight to warming my heart.
I have noticed that seeing and hearing my friends and family nourishes my eye and ear hungers and nurtures my heart hunger. All this feels very fulfilling in my spirit.
I have discovered that my mouth hunger is not as important when I am around people I love and care about. I am aware that I enjoy the flavors of food more intensely when my heart hunger is taken care of. When I tend to these hungers I feel full eating smaller amounts of food and I feel satisfied.
So, when eating with others, I do not worry about being a mindful eater. Rather, I take the time to be fully present with the people I love. To see them, hear them and fill my heart with them. As a consequence, I naturally eat less. And to be honest, I do not even measure how much I eat. I simply rejoice in the presence of those I love. For me, that is the best flavor of them all.
Do you ever rejoice when eating in the presence of the ones you love? How does that impact your level of hunger?
Claudia Vega, Mexico