Mindful Eating: Intimacy, Connection and Nourishment



In February, I will be guiding a six-week journey into the healing and transformative practices of Mindful Eating. I feel excited about this course because eating is so basic to the human experience. It is something we need to do everyday. It is something that bonds us to the more-than-human community, and life on earth. Eating is how we nourish our bodies and is one of the ways we nourish our families and communities. Bringing mindfulness and intention into this activity is powerful and transformational. It is healing. It opens up gratitude and insight into interconnectedness.


I know for myself and for a lot of people, food can be triggering. There is diet culture, food fads, mis-information about food. There is body-shaming, body-dysmorphia, scales and weight control. There is emotional eating and food addictions. Not to mention the on-going chore of needing to provide nurturing food for ourselves and our family. What is nurturing anyway? On leaving monastic life, I have been leaning into the practices and teachings of mindful eating. Transitions can be challenging, and having some stable practices keep me feeling connected and grateful.


I wanted to share one simple practice that has created the foundation of Mindful Eating and is really an invitation into deep interconnection with life. The more I practice and appreciate mindfulness, the more I see how this simple tool of paying attention is the key to living in deep communion with all beings. My life is made of moments of sacrament, moments of grace–it is always up to me to appreciate this. Mindful Eating helps and it extends, of course–beyond eating.


Before I share the exercise, I also want to share how eating is connected to our culture and sense of place. It also connects us to the world, the earth, the soils and the countless beings who are part of the food system. As eaters we all participate in this system. Mindful Eating invites authentic connection to our place in this interrelated web of food and resources through gratitude.


Ok. Now I will share the simple, yet humbling practice called the Nine Hungers.


THE NINE HUNGERS

We experience hunger/desire through the senses. We also experience satisfaction or fullness through the senses. It is through the senses that connection and intimacy happen. The nine hungers invite us to check in with the senses before, during and after eating.


The nine hungers are: eye hunger, nose hunger, ear hunger, touch hunger, mouth hunger, stomach hunger, cellular hunger, mind hunger and heart hunger. This is actually quite a deep practice because it invites total sensual involvement in your life.