Meditation is a great instrument in anyone’s self-calming toolkit. But are you the type of person who struggles to quiet your head chatter or find the time to sit in contemplative bliss?
The thing is, reflection and meditation don’t always have to come in traditional forms. A great first step into this world is to make the most of the small activities in everyday life – and give them a bit more attention, even if only for a breath or two.
One such activity is eating. We need to eat every day – so how could you use time in the kitchen and at the table to pause?
We really do eat with our eyes; there’s so much pleasure in eating a beautiful looking plate of food. This could be your morning porridge topped with bright berries or a vibrant red pasta sauce at dinner. Fill your plate with colours and then, before you take the first bite, spend a few moments looking at your meal and enjoying what you see.
When you listen you’ll notice there are lots of noises occurring in your kitchen: the sizzle of frying garlic, the crunch of nuts in your mouth, the pop of sesame seeds in a pan – or even the humming of your fridge. Rather than rushing around the kitchen as you throw your evening meal together, stop for 30 seconds and ask what you can hear, enjoying the mix of sounds. Or maybe pop your favourite track on and enjoy cooking to some music.
Our hands are great cooking tools so don’t be afraid to use them! They are also a way to physically connect with what you’re putting into your body. Use your hands to dress salads, massage oil into kale or knead some dough for bread – and turn off other distractions while you’re doing this, taking the time to notice how it feels.
Smell is one of our most powerful senses when it comes to taste – and the kitchen is full of wonderful aromas. Perk up your meals with aromatic spices, freshly zest a lemon or gently fry an onion. Lean over your pan or your plate and inhale deeply for a few breaths, letting your nostrils enjoy the sensation.
Last, but not least, is taste. Sometimes our general hurriedness in life even manifests itself in the way we eat. We’re often scooping up the next mouthful of food before we’ve even finished what’s in our mouth. So why not, just for the first mouthful of your food, take a little time to savour? Notice the flavours, tastes and textures – and then eat on as normal. You may even find this meditative way to eat and savour your meal something you want to do with every mouthful.
How will you use your time in the kitchen to reflect?