We walked out of the mindfulness practice still quiet from the experience.
After a long stretch of silence, Beth said to me, “that was so much tougher than I thought it would be. And I didn’t know where to look— so I just kept my head down the whole time, chewing and staring at my plate.”
I could feel the confusion. It was a two hour long venture on mindful eating–a practice of eating with complete awareness with a table full of other people, many who were strangers to me.
It’s one thing to sit and dine by yourself but a whole other matter entirely to feast with others but not make small talk, which polite people are supposed to do.
And that’s the point, essentially. Small talk requires our attention on the externals and the quest to stay comfortable. Mindfulness practice has us slow down to experience what is going on as we do it–to become more discerning, more aware, more in the center of the very powerful present moment.
So we went on chewing, our minds soon getting more occupied with the fleeting sensations brought on by our food’s texture and color and we managed (some better than others) to get through the silence. But I learned something about myself. I learned that I was missing the appreciation for the richness and nourishment that my food offers me every time I put it to my mouth. I also learned that silence among a roomful of others while doing something considered to be social can be very unsettling.
So— I asked myself— why is my first instinct the urge to fill up the space?
How can I get more comfortable–with just silence—