How Can People Practice Zen eating?

For those who would like to experience mindful eating, Momoe outlines three practical steps for practicing Zen eating.

Truly immersing yourself in each meal

Nick: Okay, well, let's find out how. So how can we practice Zen eating?

Momoe: I would like to offer everyone by introducing three steps of practicing then eating if it sounds something doable, easy to do. First, I invite you to turn off your mobile at your dining table. Or keep your mobile in a different room so that you don't have to put your effort to constantly focus on your eating, you automatically can focus.

And second step is put your hands together, palms together before and after eating. So take one moment, take a pause. And you may also want to say itadakimasu, which means ‘I humbly receive’ before eating, and gochisosama deshita, *‘*thank you for the food and everyone involved.’ So this prayer helps you, otherwise you can do one breathing, deep breathing, before eating and after eating.

And if you are having a ‘monkey mind’ and you want to start eating immediately, then you can start doing this hand together after eating. So it might be easier for you to apply if you have a very busy life. So after eating, hands together after finishing your meal.

And the third point is a bit intermediate, I recommend you to smell before drinking your tea, before eating your meal, your snack or sweet, or whatever, smelling is really powerful. By smelling, you can open up your body, and once your body open up, it will guide you to this sense of oneness, connectivity, you can open up by smelling a cup of tea, you can open up your five senses and you remember that you have body and that the sensation of body open up your body wisdom.

So reminding yourself that you have body is the first step. So these three steps, how do they sound?

Nick: I think it's wonderful. And I think one of the most powerful lessons I learned from living in Japan, I think, was kimari monku, these set expressions and cultural practices. So yeah, they're just little gestures, but they're very meaningful.

So saying itadakimasu and gochisosama deshita before and after a meal, if you do it properly and with feeling, it does make a difference. It’s like it increases your well-being because you're being grateful for what you're receiving. And then you're acknowledging again, I'm grateful for what I've just eaten. So a very powerful concept.