My breath stalled between shoveling forks of quinoa-millet hot cereal with fruit into my mouth. Repeatedly, I chewed three bites and then swallowed. Like driving through familiar territory, but not remembering if I had passed by specific landmarks to my destination, I realized I was at the bottom of my bowl. Done!
Stunned at my lack of presence with what I devoured, I realized that I had spent time preparing a nutritious meal that I did not even enjoy. To the tyranny of my stomach and spleen, they grumble as if I am feeding scraps into a garbage disposal. While some people post on Facebook what they ate for breakfast, I am busy wolfing down my food. Realization: I am unconsciously regressed like an eating competitor and lording over my food like a lion on a Safari picnic afraid a hyena is going to steal it.
Commonly my mind is occupied with what is not presently in front of me. While my best intentions are to fill my stomach with nutritious and delicious food, I still resist receiving the healthy benefits. Generating laundry lists of things to complete, scrolling social media and generally distracting my beingness from wholesome eating, I wonder how can the stomach digest when the mind is defiled?
The mind that is empty is not mindless. Similarly, a tummy that is full does not always empty. In Chinese Medicine, the emotions and state of mind are not separate from the behaviors of eating. It is not only what we eat that plays a role in our nourishment, but how we eat that feeds our spirit and quality of life. Just as overthinking and ruminating can adversely affect healthy spleen and stomach function, so can unfocused eating keep us ill at ease.
Getting nourishment from digestion is a whole-body-mind-spirit process. When we allow ourselves an appropriately seated space and time to enjoy what is presented on our plate, we can breathe and relax. Food that is tasted and chewed multiple times, well, allows for full cycles of breath and tracking what we are eating between bites. Satisfaction arises with practice. A mind and tummy satiated will no longer crave or desire for what it did not have