“When you are truly here, contemplating the orange, breathing and smiling, the orange becomes a miracle. It is enough to bring you a lot of happiness. You peel the orange, smell it, take a section, and put it in your mouth mindfully, fully aware of the juice on your tongue. This is eating an orange in mindfulness. It makes the miracle of life possible. It makes joy possible.”- Thich Nhat Hanh
I haven’t posted much in quite some time, frankly because I have been rather overwhelmed way too busy and imbalanced! I am working full time as a therapist, and teaching yoga in several different locations—including my new fave—a donation based class on Sunday mornings in a local downtown brewery.
I love teaching yoga, and in fact, I find it the most fulfilling and energizing practice in my life. Seriously. I love it that much. But I found myself teaching so much (6 days a week!)—that I was not practicing the very first principle and practice of yoga, which is “Ahimsa.”
Ahimsa is translated in a few different ways, most often as non-violence, but also as non-harming, and even compassion. With all of these practices and principles of yoga, we must start with ourselves. Practicing compassion, love and non-violence towards oneself may seem very easy if we are a person who generally has good self-esteem and believes we take care of ourselves and our health.
One of the biggest reasons I started to eat a vegan diet and practice a vegan lifestyle, was because I felt so profoundly in my life the connection between myself, and the food that I eat. I knew I had to begin my practice of ahimsa by changing my food choices, and making the conscious and ethical choices I felt were best for me.
Recently, I have realized that even though I may eat a compassionate diet that does not harm animals and has as small a toll on the planet as possible, I am harming myself. Not because of the foods that I am eating, but how I am eating. Rushed, with little awareness, and with more fear, stress and anxiety about the events of my life and my day than gratitude for being nourished.
Today is the first day of a new month, and I love new beginnings. I am declaring April the month of mindfulness, not just in my eating, but I am going to start there and return to the first principle of yoga as I do so. We are all worth this compassion and this return to connection.
If you need help in learning to eat mindfully, I encourage you to read further from Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings, and practice his meditations on mindful eating. You can find more here: http://www.chetday.com/mindfuleating.htm