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Buddhist mindful eating practices enter the mainstream
      06/15/12 03:17 PM
HeatherAdministrator

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Buddhist mindful eating practices enter the mainstream

Monday May 28, 2012, 6:30 AM

BY SACHI FUJIMORI
STAFF WRITER
The Record


They're the antithesis of the lunchroom coffee klatsch.

A group of employees at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood have recently started a weekly lunch date to eat together in silence, drawing on Buddhist meditation practices.

Gathering in a wordless conference room on a recent afternoon, Linda Buckley said it took her more than 30 minutes to finish half of her chicken salad sandwich. "Eating quietly is a different experience. It's really slowing down and noticing each bite. You can really be attentive to the flavors, textures and smells," said Buckley, a registered dietitian who spearheaded the mindful eating lunch group.
Tips for beginners

Linda Buckley, a nutritionist at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, offers some tips on practicing mindful eating:

Before taking that first bite, take one deep breath.
Chew slowly. It doesn't have to be 40 times, but remember to breathe and take your time chewing.
Practice eating in silence, with no television, music or conversation.
What should you be thinking about ? Nothing in particular. Just focus on the moment and the sensation of tasting the food.
It takes 20 minutes until your stomach sends the message to your brain that you're full. Eating slowly will allow you to better intuit when you're full.

For more information:

The Center for Mindful Eating offers a basic introduction: tcme.org
Zen Garland, a Buddhist and interfaith spiritual center in Airmont, N.Y.: zengarland.org

Buddhists have been practicing mindfulness — being fully aware and in the moment — while eating for thousands of years. But in recent times, these principles have entered culture and medicine. The Center for Mindful Eating, a national nonprofit organization backed by doctors, psychologists and nutritionists, seeks to educate the public that how you eat is as important as what you eat. Slowing down and eating without distraction can help fight stress, overeating and indigestion, and is particularly useful for diabetics and cardiac patients, said Buckley.

Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn, the author of "Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life," advocates chewing your food up to 40 bites and stopping eating when you're 80 percent full.

Oprah has her own mindful eating coach, the author Geneen Roth, and has touted the movement on her show. At Google's campus in Palo Alto, Calif., a monthly, hour-long, silent, vegan lunch is especially popular among its engineers.

For local Buddhist priest Roshi Paul Genki Kahn, the challenge is applying these ancient principles to modern life. "People should not just ape the mindful methods used in a monastery," said Kahn, a Franklin Lakes native who founded the Zen Garland spiritual center in Airmont, N.Y., last fall. Sharing meaningful conversation, cooking and shopping together are ways of bringing these principles into households, he said.

Throughout the year, the center hosts retreats where students can practice traditional Zen rituals, meditate, eat together and perform chores. "Zen is the realization that the sacred is in each and every moment of life — in the most ordinary actions like eating, sleeping, even sweeping the floors."

During their meditative dining ritual, Oryoki — which means "just enough"— participants seated on floor pillows eat from a set of small lacquer bowls while chanting prayers of gratitude. After the meal is finished, they pour water into the bowls, drink a small amount of the liquid and sprinkle the remainder outside on plants. "Nothing is wasted," said Kahn. "We end as we begin."

Fred and Morrie Shafer of New Milford try to practice mindfulness at most meals, but admit it can be challenging with a 4-year-old daughter. No televisions or screens are allowed at their dinner table, and they begin each meal observing a few seconds of silence. On a recent evening they had a couple over for dinner, and they engaged in a conversation about the source of their homegrown garden salad. "It makes you more self-aware," said Fred Shafer. "It's a different way of looking at it. I think you have better digestion and are more relaxed."

Continue reading this story:

http://www.northjersey.com/news/154952025_Mindful_eaters_find_meaning_at_table_.html

--------------------
Heather is the Administrator of the IBS Message Boards. She is the author of Eating for IBS and The First Year: IBS, and the CEO of Heather's Tummy Care. Join her IBS Newsletter. Meet Heather on Facebook!

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