|How to Eat Like a Zen Master|
by Alexander Green
Two weeks ago, I suffered a home invasion - and not for the first time.
I had plopped down to watch Duke play Virginia, having just fixed a toasted ham and Swiss on rye, and a few minutes later - to my astonishment - my plate was bare except for a few crumbs and a spot of pickle juice.
The sandwich thief had struck again!
How clever of him to enter my home in broad daylight, steal the sandwich and dill spear right under my nose, then vanish without a trace.
Wiping the Dijon mustard from my lips, I considered the suspects...
Seriously now, how many meals have you eaten this way, so consumed by your plans for the day, the conversation at the table or - worst of all - the drone of the Tube that you never really tasted the food?
Thich Nhat Hanh would not approve.
Who's he? Nhat Hanh is an expatriate Vietnamese monk and Buddhist Zen Master who has spent his life advocating nonviolence, setting up relief centers for refugees, ministering to the needy, establishing monastic centers, and authoring more than two dozen books on what he calls "mindful living."
(In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, telling the committee, "I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of this prize than this gentle monk from Vietnam.")
Nhat Hanh insists that most of us in the West live mindlessly. We spend our days on autopilot, reminiscing about the past or, more often, endlessly planning for the future, even if that's only ten minutes from now. By doing this, we miss our appointment with life. Because the only time we can be fully alive is in the present moment.
To change, we need only recognize that it is always now - and increase our awareness of what is going on within and around us.
Sounds simple enough. But few can actually do it. Instead, we live in a near-constant state of distraction, even when we sit down to eat. (And some, I've noticed, don't even bother to sit.)
Nhat Hanh says we can change this and turn mealtime into an art, a spiritual discipline, simply by following the Seven Practices of a Mindful Eater:
So there you have it. To eat like a Zen master, you don't need years of training or hours spent in cross-legged meditation. You need only recognize your mindless habits and make an effort to change them.
Dine this way and you'll find that not only are your meals more enjoyable, you'll eat less too. And that's a good thing. Scientific studies show that caloric restriction is an important source of longevity.
Eating mindfully allows you to appreciate your food and its connection to the rest of the world. It makes you look and feel better. And it helps you live longer, too. So try this Zen Master's guidelines. See if you can make them second nature.
And, who knows, you might never fall prey to the sandwich thief again.
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Sunday, April 18, 2010
How to Eat Like a Zen Master
My Uncle sent me this article written by Alexander Green. With the authors' permission, I posted it because I thought it was well worth the read.