There are many ways to rush through our days. And there are many choices for small yet substantial pauses. Spread throughout the day, purposeful pauses can shift our landscape. One of these places is mealtime. Food nourishes us and, in community, it nourishes connection. It's an important time to be fully present. Yet we seldom are.
While in academia, I ate at my desk facing the computer, barely chewing my food nor tasting the flavors. Everything seemed so important and pressing. If I made time to experience lunch, I wouldn't get everything done. Yet I was perpetuating my own busyness, removing my choices. And in that process, I lost connection with myself.
It's common to feel we're "on our way" to something else, even as we're in the here and now. Eating a meal can feel this way. But meals provide a gentle and needed space. Here's a counter-culture approach to food: close your eyes for 30 seconds, pay attention to your breath, be in your body; look at your food, take in the colors; smell your food, breathe in the aroma; taste and fully chew your food. I know this might sound radical. (I don't have time for this nonsense, there's more important things to do.). Here's a key ingredient: put down your silverware (or your food), let go, between bites; between every bite. This act, in itself, will slow your pace. Even if your mind races and you quickly anticipate the next bite, there's a bit of space. You can notice your reactions. If you're with other people, you can give them your full attention. Look them in the eye. (Or, if alone, look inward at yourself.)
Give yourself this gift: put down the silverware, release your grip. Make space to savor your meal--even if in small ways. It helps your digestion, but more importantly it helps you connect with others and reconnect with yourself. (I'm with you on this journey, still practicing and starting anew each day.)