A Zen’s-Eye View: Mindful eating is a great teacher

Web Lead

Kuya Minogue is the resident teacher at Creston’s ZenWords Zen Centre. For more information

Mindful eating brings many benefits that go beyond finding balance and satisfaction with our food. It relieves us of the fear of hunger. No longer will we say, “Well, I’m not really hungry,” and then eat a whole meal so we won’t be hungry “later”. Mindful eating teaches us to be willing to be empty. When we feel the sensations of emptiness, we usually move to quickly put an end to them by eating or drinking. When I ask people if they are OK with feeling empty, they usually answer, “No.”

This unwillingness to be empty speaks to the first noble truth of Buddhism — dukkha. Life brings discomfort. We humans have a very low tolerance for discomfort and our culture has insured that we never have to experience the discomfort of hunger. Car manufacturers build snack trays into vehicles, food is packaged and preserved so we can take it with us wherever we go, water bottling industries have made a fortune ensuring that we never have to experience the emptiness of thirst.

But if we look deeper, we are empty, whether we experience it or not. Every atom in our body is, in essence, empty. We are empty of independent existence because we could not exist without all other beings. We are each soap bubbles in the midst of a huge mass of soap bubbles. We are nothing other than the interactions that we have with others, and so are they. To be willing to be empty is to align ourselves with the eternal ebbing of the ocean, the waxing and waning of the moon, the steady beating of our hearts. Life depends on continuous change. Emptying the lungs is as important as filling them.

If we allow ourselves to be empty, our digestive organs get a rest and our enjoyment of food increases. It’s a paradox. The more we eat the less we enjoy food. If we allow hunger to arise, and eat slowly and mindfully, our enjoyment increases. The same is true for an empty and quiet mind. Life-changing insights arise when our minds are empty of incessant thought. The equations of relativity flashed into Einstein’s mind while he idly watched a passing train. Mental health, creativity and true productivity depend upon resting and emptying the mind. So does our spiritual health. Our survival does not depend on being full. For the sake of your physical, mental and spiritual health, are you willing to be empty?

Suggested practice: Before eating breakfast, sit quietly in an upright posture and bring awareness to your body. Are there places that the body feels empty? When you discover them, do you have an impulse to immediately fill that emptiness? Imagine your mind as a room in which thoughts accumulate like dry leaves, which the out breath blows away so the room returns to its natural state: empty and quiet.

This is Kuya Minogue’s final column on mindful eating. Her next six articles will be about mindfulness, stress and chronic pain.

Kuya Minogue is the resident teacher at Creston’s ZenWords Zen Centre. For more information, she can be reached at 250-428-6500.

 

Just Posted

RDCK calls for reversal of Sinixt extinction

The board opposed a land transfer to the Westbank First Nation this week

Creston police kept busy with unwanted guest complaints

Creston RCMP responded to 59 calls for assistance

Forecasters promote avalanche safety awareness

Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts to get proper training and equipment.

Rural residents could face higher fire protection costs

Erickson and Arrow Creek property owners will pay more for fire protection

Brewery workers claim more job losses

Interior Brewery Workers Local 308 says that Labatt Breweries of Canada is manipulating data to justify the loss of jobs at Creston’s 50-year-old brewery.

100,000 bulbs shine bright for Lights of Hope

St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver launched its annual campaign to raise funds for equipment, research

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Nasty note on B.C. windshield sparks online outrage

Vernon’s Bailey McDonald is using a painful experience to start conversation about invisible illness

Federal funding to combat guns, gangs and opioid crisis

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said illicit drugs are often main cause of guns, gangs violence

Riverview youth mental health centre proceeds

Replacement for Maples Treatment Centre first announced in March

Dead boy’s father posts Facebook response after Appeal Court upholds conviction

David, Collet Stephan were found guilty in their son Ezekiel’s 2012 death from bacterial meningitis

Trudeau mania, Scheer enthusiasm in B.C. this week

Prime minister, Conservative leader drop in on Surrey, White Rock

Most Read