Autumn is a favorite time of the year. Not only is it the turning of the leaves, but it’s also the cooling off after summer. One day it’s cold and rainy, the next clear and crisp. On at least one of those clear and crisp Saturdays, I head to a local, small, family-owned cider mill for donuts and cider.
This is the kind of place you have to know somebody to know about. And, as luck would have it, the owner’s daughter does my hair. Every September and October the family open their industrial cider mill to process apples for neighbors. In return, the neighbors get oodles of apple cider. This place is also open to the public offering cider, donuts, apples, and apple butter.
Without a doubt, the cider is fabulous. But the donuts? I crave their cinnamon-sugar goodness. I want to eat a dozen of them by myself while chugging a half gallon of cider. Totally not a mindful thing to do.
We’ve talked about breathing and paying attention. Eating is yet another area of life that you can bring this attention to and grandly improve your experience. I’m reminded of the raisin exercise taught to all who attended the introductory workshop weekends at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies (I worked there for a couple of years in the late ’90s.) Some participants scoffed at the idea of taking five or ten minutes to eat one raisin; others just didn’t like raisins. But if you take the time to try this very simple thing, your whole way of experiencing nourishment has the potential to change.
Use an autumn-crisp apple, some fresh apple cider, or a fresh donut. Or chocolate. The steps are the same no matter what you’re eating.
- Find an apple, and place it on the table in front of you. Take the time to consider what the apple has experienced to be able to nourish you. What was it’s point of origin? What carbon emissions were expended for the apple to arrive at your doorstep? Did it come to your home in a bag? A box? Did you walk to the store or drive a car?
- Hold the apple in your hand. Notice the stem, the skin, the colors. Hold the apple and feel the texture. Bring the apple closer and smell. Is it earthy? Fruity? Tangy? What else can you learn from observing the apple?
- Now close your eyes and take one small bite of the apple. Let that piece roll around on your tongue. What flavor do you taste? Do you notice texture? Notice the reaction that happens as soon as food enters your mouth – the salivating is already beginning.
- Keep your eyes closed and begin to chew. Go slow. Pay attention to each and every movement, all of the many muscles and glands that combine to begin to breakdown the small bite of an apple. When the apple has disintegrated, swallow. Pause for some time, and reflect on how this simple act of eating one bite of an apple is taken so much for granted.
This simple act of slowing down for just a single bite really does make a difference to your experience of eating. Try eating mindfully out in the world with your first bite of food at the restaurant. Savor. Breathe. Enjoy.
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