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13 October, 2007


Mindful eating is an important practice. It nourshes awareness in us. children are very capable of practicing with us. In Budhist monasteries, we eat our meals in silence to make it easier to give our full attention to the food and to the other members of the community who are present. And we chew each morsel of food thoroughly, atleast thirty times, to help us to be truly in touch with it. Eating this way is very good for digestion.
Before every meal, a monk or a nun recitesthe Five Contemplations: "This food is the gift of the whole universe--the earth the sky, and much hard work. May we live in a way that is worthy of the food. May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially that of greed. May we eat only foods that nourish us and prevent illness. May we accept this food for the realization of the way of understanding and love."
Then we can look at the food deeply, in a way that allows it to become real. Contemplating our food before eating in mindfulness can be a real source of happiness. Every time I hold a bowl of rice, I know how fortunate I am, I know that forty thousand children die every day because of the lack of food and that many people are lonely, without friends or family. I visualize them and feel deep compassion. You do'nt need to be in a monastery to practise this. You can practise at home atg your dinner table. Eat mindfully is a wonderful way to nourish compassion, and it encourages us to do something to help those who are hungry and lonely. We needn't be afraid of eating without having the T.V. radio, newspaper or a complicated conversation to distract us. In fact, it is wonderful and joyful to be completely present with our food.

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