11/11/2014

Mindful Nourishment

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Good morning friends! I hope your week is off to a great start. This past Saturday I led my first Mindful Nourishment gathering here in Los Angeles and it was amazing. I am so grateful for everyone that came out and participated.

It’s been a dream of mine to share the practice of mindful eating with groups. I’ve been eating mindfully for nearly six years and it has been an incredible journey. I had no idea how much I could learn about myself through paying attention to how I eat. It’s pretty darn profound.

I haven’t done it perfectly. I’ve taken breaks here and there from having a formal mindful eating ritual but once the seeds were planted six years ago on meditation retreat and given a little water, it was impossible to go back to being clueless about how I eat. I’ve often heard the phrase, the road gets narrower, in the recovery community. In many ways this is how it feels. The more I show up and commit to all of my mindful living practices, the harder it is to check out of my life. All the ways I’ve comforted, distracted and numbed myself no longer work. I can see right through their empty promises.

In many ways the road has also expanded. Learning to pay attention to how and why I eat has given me many opportunities to grow through painful experiences without using food as a way to self-medicate. Facing my stuff like we all have to do at some point if we want to experience true freedom, has proven to be the way of expansion and peace.

Mindful eating is so fundamental in our self-care practice that it is often the first thing that is over looked. Think about how many times you eat while checking your email or phone. Or the times you ate while watching a movie, a show or reading a book. I’m not saying these things are bad or wrong. My only intention is to shine some light on how we eat and show you another way.

Is it possible to tune into all the subtle flavors of food and listen to your body while your mind is someplace else? For me it isn’t. My experience has shown time and time again that the most joyous and nourishing meals are ones that are eaten with intention and slowness.

It can feel weird to just focus on your meal at first. We’re so used to multitasking that it can feel boring, slow and just plain awkward to eat without doing anything else but eating. Chewing our food well can also feel odd until we get used to it.

The cool thing is it is totally possible to eat mindfully at any time. We can set aside a more formal practice at home where we eat as meditation for one meal a week. If we’re out with company at a cafe or at a dinner party it is possible to practice there to. It can be as simple as feeling our feet connected to the earth, slowing down, saying thank you for our meal, and taking breaks between bites to chew well and breathe.

Last Friday Jason and I had date night. Sometimes I feel this pressure to talk through dinner. I look around at all the other couples laughing, joking, talking non-stop while eating. I feel like we’re weird because we just sit there in silence sometimes and eat, maybe commenting here and there on how amazing the food tastes, feels, looks. These days I’m getting more and more comfortable on date night not having to talk about everything and enjoying the food as much as possible.

Where ever you are with your eating practice I encourage you to set aside one meal a week to eat in silence. See how it goes. Notice what comes up. Above all remember the words of one of my dearest teachers posted above:

Enjoy being part of the earth and eat in such a way that allows you to be aware that each bite is deepening your connection to the planet. – Thich Nhat Hanh

xoa

Comments

  • Kelly Noack

    Ashley! This is wonderful. And again so in line with my own focus lately. I’m attending the AutoImmune Summit and there have been some profound takeaways so far – I plan to work with connecting what I eat, how I prepare it, where it’s sourced, etc with how I feel. There is so much power to connect those areas together. Thank you! You are amazing and I appreciate your sharing your experience.

    • ashley

      Hey Kelly! Great to hear from you. Sounds like an incredible summit. I am glad you are learning so much and have useful tools to take home. I totally agree that all of these connections are very powerful! I am grateful my experiences are supporting your journey. It’s wonderful to connect and affirm we are in this together ;) Wishing you a wonderful rest of the week and summit! xoa

  • erin {yummy supper}

    Ashley! First off I love your quote, as always. And I’m glad you’re here to remind me that I have a lot of room for growth on mindful eating. I need to work on slowing down, really chewing and truly savoring the deliciousness.
    I LOVED seeing you on Sunday and getting to share that yummy meal with you. Thank you again for spending time with me.
    xoxo
    E

    • ashley

      Thanks Erin! It was so wonderful connecting with you and sharing a meal. I’m really happy we got to do that. I wish we lived in the same neighborhood!!
      Wishing you a beautiful weekend.
      Lots of love,
      xoa

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