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Balance and Harmony
Awakening to food means that we pay attention to all the aspects of food---aspects we've long forgotten or take for granted.
When we awaken, we notice the sensations of the food, such as taste, change of flavors, texture and aromas. But we can look deeper to see the effort, resources and sacrifices within each food as well.
The mindful eater spends at least one moment during each bite waking up to some aspect of the food.
The Five Chips Encounter below will give you experience with some of these aspects.
CAMP Basics > Mindful Eating
PRACTICE: Five Chips Encounter
Get five potato chips (or other type of snack food: cheese puffs, corn chips, nacho chips, etc.). If you’re reading this at a computer, go get the food and then come back to the web page.
Before eating the chips, arrive at them. Smell the chips; enjoy their aroma. Feel the chips in your fingers. Notice the salt and oil. Imagine yourself eating these five chips in a mindful way.
- CHIP #1: Pick up one chip and look at it before you eat it. Notice its shape, colors, shadings and curls. Now, eat this chip with simple mindfulness. Take your time and be aware of each chew. Make this bite a basic mindful bite.
- CHIP #2: You’re going to notice the flavor of this chip as you eat it. Put it in your mouth and chew it slowly and thoroughly. Pay attention to the tastes you experience. If you’re eating a potato chip, notice the potato flavor. (If you’re eating some other kind of chip, notice that flavor.) Keep chewing until it’s completely chewed up, and then swallow. Stop. Notice the aftertastes. Enjoy the chip!
- CHIP #3: With the next chip, you’re going to notice textures. Pick up the third chip and look at it. Then, put it in your mouth, but don’t chew right away. Move your tongue against the chip and briefly explore its edges, roughness, etc. Then, begin chewing. Pay attention to how the textures change. Notice how your chewing creates new edges, new textures. As you chew, the texture changes; follow how these changes occur. Chew slowly and thoroughly, and then swallow.
- CHIP #4: Chewing creates noises, and with the next chip, you’ll pay special attention to the sounds of eating. Put the fourth chip in your mouth and begin chewing. Listen carefully to every bite. Hear the sound of chewing and how that sound changes over time. Even when the chip is thoroughly chew, there is still some sound. Swallow after you’ve completely chewed the chip.
- CHIP #5: In every food there is a little suffering. Some plant or animal had to expend energy and possibly give its life so you could have food. With this fifth chip, think about the potato plant that had to die so you could have a part of it as a snack. Put the chip in your mouth and eat it in gratitude, thankful to the potato plant (or corn plant or wheat plant, depending on your snack) for its life. Chew slowly, completely and quietly. Swallow when you’re done.
If you want more chips, please help yourself, but with each bite continue to use the techniques you've learned. The goal here is to enjoy your chips---or whatever food you eat---and be fully in the moment.
This approach is far better than denying yourself foods such as potato chips. When you deprive yourself of foods you love, you set up a self-sabotaging system. Eventually, you will get tired of being deprived and you'll go back to the old, unskilled way of eating the foods you avoided.
By Awakening to food, you allow yourself to eat any food. But you establish a new way of eating it---with care and attention. Over time, you may find that you're eating much less of the food but that you're enjoying it far more than you ever did before.
I normally will act out on a craving or a random impulsive thought and will eat something I will regret later. While eating this food item, my mind goes into a "trance" and by the time I've realized it, I've eaten too much. I then feel guilty.
Awakening to the chips was almost like having an epiphany. I never realized there was so much flavor in a chip before. It was amazing!
I was in a simple boutique, a place where found yard sale treasures are turned into functional art. The woman behind the counter had a banana and an apple cut in small peices. She had a fork and a knife and a pretty plate and napkin. I thought about how that was all she was having for lunch and how long it would take her to eat it at the speed she was going. She was trim, healthy and happy. My perspective of eating food was moved.