Paying attention to the way that we DO our lives is a practice. This past few months I’ve been paying particular attention to the way in which I eat. Habitually, over the course of my life my tendency has been to not take enough time to eat and then get to the point that I am starving and just shoving things in my mouth to satisfy the hunger signs my intelligent body is sending me. Or, I will make or pick up some food but not leave enough time to sit and eat it. Rather, I was eating on the run, still mindlessly shoving it down. Does this sound familiar?
It turns out that eating habits like mine (and maybe yours) are not all that great for me. Through my studies in Ayurveda, I discovered that its not just what you eat that is important but it is also WHEN you eat and HOW you eat that will have huge impact on whether or not you can even digest your food and avoid symptoms like gas, bloating, fatigue or heartburn.
WHEN we eat is pretty specific according to Ayurveda. Although we tend to forget, our bodies are on a 24 hour clock that is intimately connected to the earth’s cycle of a full day and night. Ideally 3 meals a day at regular times are what is recommended. Snacking in between should also be at the right interval so that our body can have specific times to be nourished and specific times to be in the digestive process with nothing else coming in to the system to interrupt it.
HOW we eat is also really important. If we eat while standing up, driving, working, texting, reading or watching tv - then we don’t have the full energy and attention that our body needs to work on digesting the food. For example if we are eating at the same time as watching a movie, we don’t realize that we are asking ourselves to digest both our food and the impressions of the movie (emotions, thoughts, feelings.) Another fascinating concept is that if we eat after or during an argument or receiving disturbing news, our body will not be able to digest properly.
Lastly, Ayurveda also teaches that we should invite the sacred in to our food practices. When we reframe eating our food as a sacred practice of gratitude for the food and focus on chewing, tasting and smelling it, we get a whole other myriad of positive body/mind/soul effects - like connection to self, food and the earth as well as feeling more grounded and that life is more spacious and meaningful.
And so this shifting of eating habits and awarenesses has become a slow and steady practice of mine. It takes focus, awareness, discipline and most importantly an understanding of why I want to shift my behavior. I want to shift because I want to feel good - vital, strong and healthy. But I also appreciate the slowing down component that a practice like this starts to demand. Taking the time to sit down, see my food, chew it, savor it and then sit some more to allow the digestive process to begin is definitely something.
Oddly enough, this practice isn’t hard because it asks us to DO MORE, its hard because it asks us to DO LESS. We are practicing to interrupt our habitual patterning of multi-tasking, being busy, filling the void and mindless eating. Even reading this blog post might have you in resistance to listening to this sacred and simple wisdom. Notice that inner chatter …. but consider cultivating this practice anyway. Next time you feel hunger calling, consider adjusting WHEN (what time) you will eat and HOW you will eat. And then do it again. And again…
To come practice with us in person, consider our RETREAT to TULUM in November. Together we will take a deep dive in to the art of coming home to your self by making your life a practice. One of the life pieces we will look at is the practice of eating as a component of self care. For more on the retreat …. https://www.yourlifepractice.com/ylptulumretreat
Would love to hear your comments below.