Meditative states are associated with Buddhism in the Western world. But contemplation, awareness, consciousness, and connecting with the Divine, as a form of prayer, do not belong to any one religion. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was well-known for his meditation practice. Meditation is simply about awareness. It is a time to think about others, to get to know yourself, to question things and find solutions to problems. It isn’t the property of one school of thought. In its simplest form, meditation focuses on breathing alone, and maybe the sounds around you, the feel of the floor or chair beneath you. It’s an excellent practice for controlling the mind, allowing relaxation, without focusing on too much at all, which is why it’s so effective for coping with anxiety and depression. ‘Mindful Eating’ has become a ‘food trend’ for 2018. A hashtag waiting to explode. Maybe it’s just a fad, but the very basic idea of giving some thought to your food surely has to be a good thing, right?
What is it?
- Mindful eating means focusing your experiences entirely on eating. Fundamentally it involves:
- Eating slowly and without distraction (no TV, WhatsApp, Pokemon Go, or PowerPoint documents!) Paying attention to how you feel, so you know when you’re full.
- Distinguishing between actual hunger and the desire to eat.
- Appreciating the food you have by paying attention to colours, smells, sounds, textures and tastes.
- Eating to maintain overall health and well-being.
- Noticing the effects food has on how you feel emotionally and physically.
- Being grateful, overall, for your food.
In our fast-paced society, we eat quickly. ‘We must eat efficiently in between all of the ‘more important things’ we have to do.’ We wolf it down, during a meeting, or walking back to the office. Socially, we can also be guilty of being so busy photographing our food that we don’t enjoy it. This can be problematic, since it actually takes the brain up to 20 minutes to realise it’s full. If you eat too quickly, the fullness signal may not arrive until you've already eaten too much. (Cue, bloating, indigestion, weight-gain.) By eating mindfully, you slow down, and you think. You make eating intentional, not automatic.
- Eat more slowly… Don't rush your meals.
- Chew properly. (Did I chew that burger, or inhale it?)
- Eliminate distractions by turning off the TV and leaving your phone in another room.
- Eat in silence.
- Focus on how the food makes you feel.
- Stop eating when you're full.
Mindful eating takes practice. It isn’t always practical or even possible, and it might take some of the joy out of eating. Eating a meal with the family, for example, is an important way to catch up after a long day. It’s a social necessity that binds people together. You also can’t sit in a restaurant in silence, ignoring all your friends, focusing entirely on a half-chicken. Still, mindful eating is useful at times. We recommend trying it during lunch at work, when you can find somewhere peaceful, and let the food do the talking. We like to think that a good halal diet is about respecting our bodies, being ethically responsible, and being grateful for the food we’ve been given. Take away the faddy language, and you’re left with a simple idea that could do us all some good.