Be mindful at the dinner table

The word "mindfulness" pops up often these days. What exactly does it mean, in relation to food? According to Cameron Stauch, every meal for the Buddhist monks and nuns is an act of mindfulness. Before eating, everyone puts a scoop of rice in a bowl, then holds it at eye level, out of respect for Buddha.

The headmaster then leads a series of chants that express gratitude for the food, the farmers who grew it, the cooks who made it, and their appreciation of the nourishment it will provide. The meal is spent in silence, with diners paying complete attention on each bite, free from distraction. By focusing on the sensations provided by the food and eating very slowly, the meal becomes a form of meditation.

In an interview, Stauch recommended incorporating a little mindfulness into your meals.

"Set your phone on silent. Put on some relaxing music or enjoy cooking in silence. Ask a family member if they'd like to join you in preparing the meal. As you assemble ingredients, slow down and give thought to the energy and people that grew the food you're about to prepare.

"Tune into your senses. Smell, taste and closely observe your food in the different stages of the cooking process. Look toward bringing joy into your kitchen. It's the secret ingredient that makes a delicious meal."