Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Golden Silence of Eating

I had the most unique experience two nights ago. Along with a group of Abrahamsters (that's a group of people who love and work with the energy of Abraham-Hicks), I had my first silent meal with a group.

Now, don't get me wrong here. Eating in silence is something most of us do everyday. I do it practically three meals a day. And with the advent of TV and radio, people have been eating in "silence" - that is, without talking to one another - for quite some time. But this type of conscious silent eating is a new one, even for me.

There is a lot of hype about eating family meals without our TV shows blaring or computer screens lurking. But eating in silence is not something most people even think about or really even want to do. So, why do it?

Well, let me tell you. It was a most intriguing experience and something I definitely want to do again.

The night started with a round of introductions (for this we used our voices), me being the only new person there, with everyone saying their name and what they are appreciative for. What a great way to start anything!

Once our small, intimate circled group made its way completely around, we then turned to some meditative practices and exercises. I was really looking forward to this because as advertised, we were going to be playing some Abraham games. Games? Well, now, I am quite familiar with Abraham-Hicks, but I hadn't ever had the opportunity to play some reindeer games.

And I was eager. I had prepared by listening to a Tony Robbins CD prior to the event and when I got there via lightning speed, I found I had a full half hour before the event even started. So, I sat in my car next to a row of bright red tulips and proceeded to meditate and converge with my Angel friends.

Once the games got started, I became a little nervous and slightly apprehensive. What was I going to say? Who was I going to be paired with? I didn't know anybody. And they all seemed to know each other very well. But my mind was put at ease when the game that we were going to play was announced as an eye connection exercise. Each person was going to go around the room and keep eye contact  with another person for a full minute. And then, we'd move onto the next person. We did this as a group, of course, so it wasn't like everybody was watching only one person do this to another. That would have been awkward. Instead, the orchestrator of the games had keenly devised a way to keep us all from getting bored and just going from person to person, so it ended up being quite entertaining. We stayed focused on one another for a period of time, connecting in our own special, unique way. And then we moved to the next person.

Now, this exercise was really fascinating. I love this kind of thing! I know, I know. It seems very tantric or even a bit strange to stare deeply into a stranger's eyes for a any period of time. But what I have to tell you is this: it gives you a sense of connection without all the verbal hoo-ha that we go through everyday. No need for niceties or fake conversation - just real, lasting (even if momentary) connection. You get to see someone in a way that words can never express. It was really charming. Although, I did find my eyes to be quite tired by the end of the experience and luckily, we were given a break to stretch and release our muscles before we moved on.

The next part of the experience involved a guided meditation to allow us to fall into a deeper-connected space with one another. As Abraham calls it, we connected our grids. After a few other fun things, we worked our way into the next phase of the evening: the silent meal.

Nowadays, you can go to any number of restaurants and get all sorts of eating experiences. You can eat in complete and utter darkness; you can eat with your hands; you can sit on the floor; you can eat off the floor (yes, there really are restaurants that cater to this desire); you can sit cross-legged and be fed by handsome men in loin cloths. Okay, so I don't really know about the last one, but sign me up if someone starts a restaurant that caters to that.

Restaurant in Taiwan

Anyway, the aspect of the silent meal is about connecting with ourselves, with our food and with one another in a new and unexperienced way. As the meal progressed, we started with a bit of finger foods that included dried blueberry truffle balls coated in coconut flakes, peanut butter and date balls rolled in toasted sesame seeds and a beautiful bowl of hummus served with restaurant-style naan. Shortly after, they brought out 9-item curry, basmati rice, steamed asparagus, and the most incredible dhal I've ever had. Everything was meant to be eaten as a group and with our hands. And not a word at all. The orchestrators of the evening showed us how to eat each dish, the truffle balls being self-explanatory, and we were meant to smell, taste, feel and be with each thing before we ate it. I was given a non-metallic spoon because the naan isn't gluten-free, but I found myself diving right in with the three-finger-and-thumb method used commonly in other parts of the world.

Around the world, cultures apart from Americans regularly eat their meals with only their hands. It is meant as a connection, an offering and a way to be with our food without just shoving it in. The belief is it adds a tactile dimension and a sensuality that is missing when you use utensils. Food can be eaten with fingers, flatbreads (like the naan), banana leaves, or rice, which is what we did by stirring the curry and dhal into the puffy white grains. This practice of eating without silverware is common in India, Ethiopia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Many Americans and Europeans aren't used to eating with our hands in this manner. Or at least not since we were children. However, there is a fine art to it and when done properly, it is a really fun experience. I mean, look at kids. They regularly get reprimanded for having so much fun while eating and most of the time, the taste of the food is only half the fun. They have fun with the experience of eating. I know. Amazing concept, right?

When it came down the the actual eating, I must say, I had a bit of concern about the curry and dhal. If I were to drop any of it on my clothes, turmeric stains are beyond a challenge to get out. And I wore a black and white skirt. But I found that eating with my fingers and digging right in, I didn't spill an ounce. It was too good for that. I could feel where the food was in relation to my fingers and my mouth and I didn't take so much that spillage was a possibility. The hand-eating portion made me eat slower and more thoughtfully. I found I didn't eat as much and by the time the coconut pudding with mangoes, bananas and pineapple came out, I was quite full.

Now, about the silence portion. Here's what I found out: it's really quite invigorating. I felt connected to my food, and as we ate, we looked around the room (or at our food) and enjoyed one another's smiles and the quiet sounds of eating. This I must say was the most surprising thing of the evening - at our silent meal, people were incredibly silent while eating. I hadn't expected this. People make a lot of noise, even when they're not trying. But it was calm and serene and really contenting. Maybe this was the lack of utensils and the intense focus we had on what we were doing, but man, oh, man, it was really quiet in a really pleasant way.

I also found that I ate less. Since we were sharing, everyone took small portions to begin and added more as they wanted. But because of the time it took to eat with just my first three fingers with a bit of assistance from my thumb and the calmly intense focus on staying connected to what I was eating, I just ate less. My large plate would normally have been piled with the rice and veggies all covered in curry and dhal. But this time, in my small portions, I filled up fast. Or was it really that I just noticed that I filled up fast? There is a part of me that really thinks that's the true factor. I was paying attention and because of that, I noticed things. Astounding, I know. But that's sort of the purpose - to connect to our entire beings, the body, the food entering it, the feelings we were having, the feelings of being with one another without a focus on what was going to be said next or what we needed to say next. We were just present. At least, I know I was. And it was really a remarkable experience. I would highly recommend this fun experiment with your family and yes, even your kids. Kids for the most part are usually pretty present anyways, but a conducted experiment where everyone eats with their hands and keeps their focus on the feelings of eating and the food might just be a welcome experience in this journey we call life.

Happy eating in silence, everyone.

Not us - just a group of divine strangers

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