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Eating without Scarfing

So often we eat so quickly, scarfing down our meal, without taking even a moment to enjoy or contemplate what we are doing. At the Institute for Jewish Spirituality retreats, we enjoy 2 silent meals a day, during which we sit in silence with just our thoughts and our food for company.

Each meal, we set an intention for the dining experience. Sometimes it is just to put the fork down between each bite. Sometimes it is to offer a “thank you” or a “recognition of a blessing” before each bite. Sometimes it is to “taste” the food.

One of my favorite pre-eating meditations is:

As we make ready to eat this food
We remember with gratitude
The people, animals, plants, insects,
Creatures of the sky and sea
Air and water, fire and earth
All turning in the wheel of living and dying
Whose joyful exertion
Not separate from ours
Provides our sustenance this day.

May we with the blessing of this food
Join our hearts
To the one heart of the world
In awareness and love
And may we together with everyone
Realize the path of awakening
And never stop making effort
For the benefit of others. (Norman Fisher)

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