Mealtime Meditation Achieved in Three Steps
You have the ability to turn each meal into a gift for yourself. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that can change your relationship with food, improve your digestion, and enhance the balance in your life.
This three-step process is designed to build upon itself; however, becoming a master of each step before moving on to the next is key, though the bonus step at the end can be added at any point. By becoming a master you can increase the meaningfulness and longevity of your practice, as well as unlock the power of putting your health in your own hands. Let’s begin!
Step One: Eat in a Peaceful State of Mind with no Distractions
This step sets the tone for your entire experience. Before sitting down with your meal, bring awareness to your surroundings and remove any outside distractions. Relish in the fact that your brain is wired to focus on one thing at a time. In other words, if you’re having a conversation, looking at your phone, watching T.V., etc. chances are you’re not paying attention to the food you’re chewing.
When you sit down with your meal, take a deep breath; create a moment to be grateful for the pleasure and nourishment you are about to receive.
When you become full, take another deep breath and bring closure to your meal; this can help retain satisfaction and mindfully prepares you to transition away from your meal. 1
Step Two: Chew each Bite 32 Times & Sip Warm Water
As with any healthy relationship, the proper amount of time and care should be given. When you start chewing your food, your body begins to recognize the six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. In this practice, allow your body to lead and let your mind follow; notice each taste - is one more bold than another? Does one taste seem to be missing?
This is an important next step because your mind and body are optimized when your palette is balanced. Balance is acquired when your meal contains all six tastes. This can be accomplished through the foods you select and the herbs and spices you choose.
While mindfully chewing your food, sip on warm water. This benefits the digestive process and facilitates the assimilation of nutrients to your body.
Step Three: Harness the Power of the 20 Attributes
As your relationship with food evolves, you can develop a greater understanding of how it affects your body and the action it has on your mind.
In this step, you’ll determine your current state of health, also known as your constitution or Vikriti. Your Vikriti is best determined by an Ayurvedic Health Counselor; however, you can get an idea of it here by taking this simple Ayurvedic Dosha Quiz. Once your Vikriti is determined you can harness the power of the 20 Attributes.
Keeping in mind that like increases like, use the table2 below to determine which attributes you can increase or decrease to bring balance into your life. For example, if your Vikriti is Vata, consider decreasing foods that are dry, light, cold, rough, etc., and increase foods that are hot, sharp, heavy, oily, etc. This can help reduce anxiety and accelerate your enthusiasm.
If your Vikriti is Pitta, consider decreasing foods that are hot, sharp, light, etc., and increase foods that are dry, cold, heavy, dense, etc. This can help cut down feelings of anger and promote your entrepreneurial spirit.
If your Vikriti is Kapha, consider decreasing foods that are heavy, slow/dull, cold, etc., and increase foods that are hot, sharp, dry, light, etc. This can help boost your energy and alleviate the chances of depression.
With this in mind, all constitutions should take into consideration the season. For example, the fall season has attributes of Vata, therefore, during fall Vata’s attributes will increase. The summer season has similar attributes to Pitta, and as follows, Pitta’s attributes will increase during the summer. Winter has comparable attributes to Kapha; accordingly, Kapha will increase during the winter season.2
Bonus Step: Lie on your Left Side & take a Short Walk
This bonus step can be added at any point! After you eat, lie on your left side for 5 - 15 minutes. When you’re in this position, it activates the solar energy channel, which is linked to agni.1 Agni is the fire element, which regulates all transformation. Its primary functions include digestion, absorption, assimilation, and transformation of food and sensations into energy.2 Thus, it’s relaxing, rejuvenating and supports good digestion.1
Afterward, take a short walk and reintroduce yourself to the world. Notice how your mind and body respond to the thoughtful way you nurtured them and enjoy the balance you’ve established by creating a positive relationship with food.
1 Banyan Botanicals. . Melody Mischke. The Importance of Healthy Digestion: An Ayurvedic Guide to Understanding Agni. Accessed September 19, 2016 https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/health-guides/understanding-agni/#references
2 Lad, Vasant, M.A.Sc. Textbook of Ayurveda Volume 1: Fundamental Principles. Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2002. Print. 31-32, 81