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Archive for April, 2012

Zest for life is only one bite away!

As I eyed this two-inch strawberry in its plastic crate, my eyes popped! I knew that today would be the real-time moment for me to look at my food with fresh eyes. I pulled out one of the most delectable and largest strawberries that I have ever seen. It was bright red with black seeds pinning its flesh just like the pincushion sitting next to my sewing basket. Somehow my zest for eating and being really present in my life soared!

Eating mindfully is something I strive to do most days, and at most meals, though often my monkey mind wanders way too much for my liking. Often I must re-direct my attention by turning off the music or the television. A sense of calm falls around me, and in this electronic silence, I take in what I am doing. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “…we can spend a moment being grateful for the food we have just eaten and all that is necessary to create this moment.” Many religious and spiritual traditions practice gratefulness to instill a sense of value for things outside ourselves. I believe that we can practice this kind of gratefulness through mindfulness, on a regular basis. Further, by writing about this zest-filled experience, we can underscore our appreciation of life. And what better way to do this then through our daily habit of eating.

To begin this close observation for my gratitude journaling, I chose this voluptuous strawberry because it involved so many wonderful sensory elements. You can do the same by picking food that has significance for you. A cup of tea will do.  At first take in what you see. For me, as I cut into the fruit, my mouth began to water.  I thought about how this fruity flesh would ooze its sweetly tart juices around my tongue and teeth. I took in each mouthful with all senses alive and focused on what I was doing more fully.

With your food in front of you, observe how it impacts you as you cut and chew or sip it. This will root you to your understanding of things outside and within.

As I opened up the fruit and looked at the interior, I wondered about how it grew so full, and who might have gingerly picked it for me. For a moment I imagined the strawberry plant blossoming on the ground before it was pollinated, where the roots of the plant pierced through the earth.

After eating this wondrous strawberry, I looked at what was left: debris to decay and return to the soil, enrichment for the next fruit or flower. There is something satisfying in observing that cycle of life, something universal for which I am in awe. I will sit at my desk  to write about this. Maybe this experience will take me back to my mother’s garden and our wonderful dinners of her fried eggplant and stewed tomatoes. Or maybe I will journey down another path to my own trials and errors in the garden–or more.

For your journaling this week, note your sense of gratitude, wonder, and appreciation for things past and present. Afterward, find a way to build in more of these moments into your life. You can do so by simply eating part of your meal more mindfully. And as Lynn Johnson, PhD, says, “The skill of Savoring can increase our zest, since by paying attention to the pleasant things in our lives, we develop a greater sense of excitement about having them happen again.”

Let those appreciations happen over and over this next week, and may you have more moments of zest in your life!

Karen

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