Eating a meal together is a meditative practice. We should try to offer our presence to every meal. Serving food to ourselves, we can already begin practicing. We realize that many elements, such as the rain, sunshine, earth, air, and love, have come together to form this wonderful meal. In fact, through this food, we see that the entire universe is supporting our existence.
We are aware of the whole Sangha as we serve ourselves, and we should take an amount of food that is good for us. At lunchtime, the bell will be invited before we eat, and we can enjoy breathing in and out while practicing the five contemplations:
- This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work.
- May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive these foods.
- May we recognize and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed and learn to eat with moderation
- May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planets.
- We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, build our Sangha, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.
We should take our time as we eat, chewing each mouthful at least 30 times, until the food becomes liquid fied. This aids the digestive process. Let us enjoy every morsel of our food and the presence of the dharma brothers and sisters around us. Let us establish ourselves in the present moment, eating in such a way that solidity, joy, and peace be possible during the time of eating.
Eating in silence, the food becomes real with our mindfulness and we are fully aware of its nourishment. In order to deepen our practice of mindful eating and support the peaceful atmosphere, we remain seated during this silent period. After twenty minutes of silent eating, two sounds of the bell will be invited. We may then start a mindful conversation with our friend or get up from the table.
Upon finishing our meal, we take a few moments to notice that we have finished, that our bowl is now empty and our hunger is satisfied. Gratitude fills us as we realize how fortunate we are to have had this nourishing food to eat, supporting us on the path of love and understanding.