Barefoot Zen?

Barefoot Zen?
Namaste, Y'all...

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Late Post for an Early Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week has come and gone.  At the top of my gratitude list is an appreciation for clothing manufacturers who continue to print '34' on my jeans.  Your pretty lies are my little secret, Wrangler.

I'm also thankful for my family.  However, while I love my dysfunctional in-laws and passive parental units, such familial gatherings rarely put me in a mindful state.  Grateful for them?  You bet.  But able to pay attention to the moment amid the chaos and carbohydrates?  Nope. 

Enter Thich Nhat Hanh.  His new book, "Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Living", panders a bit to the diet book crowd, having been co-authored by a nutritionist.   But while it offers no truly new insight on what you should or shouldn't eat, it does present something truly groundbreaking for we multi-tasking Americans:  Mindful eating.

I've been a reader of this gentle Plum Village monk's writings for over a decade.  His emphasis on the power of living in the present moment has inspired and challenged me, no matter what spiritual path I've been on.   'Mindful eating' isn't a new concept, but it was Thich Nhat Hanh who first got me to practice it.  As someone who often eats with a magazine, a book, or a laptop in front of me, the idea of paying attention to my food was tantamount to scaling Kilimanjaro blindfolded. 

But, inspired by "Savor", I decided to try this on a recent business trip.  I wandered into La Madeline bistro in Washington, DC a couple of weeks ago and, amid the tempting aromas of baked goods and bisque, I opted for a spinach salad, topped with toasted pecans, strawberries, and goat cheese, and bathed in a mist of vinegarette.

For almost thirty minutes, I sat and ate a salad that would've usually taken me ten minutes.  No book, no magazine, no laptop.  Just me, my lovingly prepared, fresh food, and my undivided attention.   I was aware of each bite - the textures, the bouquet, the dormant flavors.

A week later, I stood silently as my sister and my nephew said grace on Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day, respectively.  But, I experienced it - really lived it - days before.  Alone.  Unhurried.  Grateful. 

To learn more about Thich Nhat Hanh's new book, go to: