What Students Can Learn About Ancient Asian Cultures Through Conscious Eating

We, here in the West, are typically in a hurry.  We drive fast, walk fast, talk fast, think fast, and live fast.  But in particular…WE EAT FAST!  That’s a shame, because we don’t experience our food.  When we eat slowly in a peaceful setting, we:

  • Really taste our food
  • Focus on our food instead of external stimuli
  • Eat significantly less

So…what’s this have to do with the unit in World Civilization on ancient Asia?  I’m glad you asked!  Certainly, mindfulness is part of most religious traditions.  Think of life in a Catholic monastery, or Sufism, the mystical tradition in Islam.  But the fundamental nature of Buddhism, and to a lesser extent Hinduism, is mindfulness.

In order for students to experience mindfulness, for perhaps the first time, have your class eat mindfully.  Today, I presented my students with the following options:

  • Cherries
  • Craisins
  • Raisins
  • Smoked Almonds

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We each selected a few treasures from my desk.  We all then sat and studied our prizes. Then, we picked up one and examined it closely.  We rotated it in our fingers.  We zoomed our focus in, then out.  We smelled it, and rubbed it on our lips.  Finally, we closed our eyes, popped it in our mouths, and chewed slowly for ten reps prior to a relaxed swallow!

The kids were amazed at the rich sensations of touch, smell, and taste.  These experiences would’ve been absent if the morsels were inhaled while the TV blared, the cell phone bleeped, and the diner blurted out some opinion.

It’ll be interesting to hear if this experience impacts meals this weekend.  Regardless, explaining Buddhist mindfulness next week will be easier!

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