Sitting down to eat is one of the easiest places for us to incorporate mindfulness and gratitude into our lives.
We have to eat many times a day, and so it is an ideal opportunity to take a deep breath, center our selves, and express our gratitude for the nurishment of our bodies.
An added benefit is that studies show that people who pause before eating, and eat in a calm, mindful manner, eat less, and digest what they eat much more fully. This is also a good way to heal the disjointed and unhealthy relationship many of us Westerners tend to have with food as a result of eating too fast and on the run, consuming poor quality food, and fixations with our weight and appearance.
Here is one offering for a meal time prayer from the Zen tradition known as, Gokan-no-ge, the "Five Reflections."
First, let us reflect on our own work and the effort of those who brought us this food.
Second, let us be aware of the quality of our deeds as we receive this meal.
Third, what is most essential is the practice of mindfulness, which helps us to transcend greed, anger and delusion.
Fourth, we appreciate this food which sustains the good health of our body and mind.
Fifth, in order to continue our practice for all beings we accept this offering.
You can read more about this tradition, here.
As you sit down for you next meal, take the time to take a deep breath, and give thanks for the pleasure and benefits that food provides.