"This piece of bread is an ambassador from the entire cosmos." -Thich Nhat Hanh
Eating a meal mindfully can be a meditative and nourishing practice. As we serve our food we can already begin practicing. Serving ourselves, we realize that many elements, such as the rain, sunshine, earth, air and love, have all come together to form this wonderful meal. In fact, through this food we see that the entire universe is supporting our existence.
We are aware of the whole community as we serve ourselves and we take an amount of food that is good for us. Before eating, the bell can be invited for three sounds and we can enjoy breathing in and out while practicing the five contemplations.
We can take our time as we eat, chewing each mouthful at least 30 times, until the food becomes liquefied. This aids the digestive process. Let us enjoy every morsel of our food and the presence of the brothers and sisters around us. Let us establish ourselves in the present moment, eating in such a way that solidity, joy and peace is possible during the time of eating.
Eating in silence, the food becomes real with our mindfulness and we are fully aware of its nourishment. In order to deepen our practice of mindful eating and support the peaceful atmosphere, we remain seated during this silent period. After twenty minutes of silent eating, two sounds of the bell can be invited. We may then start a mindful conversation with our friend or begin to get up from the table.
Upon finishing our meal, we take a few moments to notice that we have finished, our bowl is now empty and our hunger is satisfied. Gratitude fills us as we realize how fortunate we are to have had this nourishing food to eat, supporting us on the path of love and understanding.
The Five Food Contemplations
This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard work.
May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.
May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.
May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, and preserve our planet.
We accept this food so that we may nurture our sisterhood and brotherhood, strengthen our Community, and nourish our ideal of serving living beings.
Food Contemplations for Children
This food is the gift of the whole universe: The earth, the sky, the rain and the sun.
We thank the people who have made this food, especially the farmers, the people at the market and the cooks.
We only put on our plate as much food as we can eat.
We want to chew the food slowly so that we can enjoy it.
We want to eat in a way that nurtures our compassion and protects others species and the environment.
This food gives us energy to practice being more loving and understanding.
We eat this food in order to be healthy and happy, and to love each other as a family.