Zeke, our four-year old Vizsla, has excellent hearing and smell. But not for the bird hunting discipline that he was bred for – - but for California Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds. From a room away, he can hear a 1/2 turn on the top of the plastic Almond container. If he’s outside and comes inside, his nose goes 911 when he sniffs a whiff of a single nut.
Zeke and I have a routine each night. He waits for Dad’s snack time before bed time when Dad and Zeke share a heaping handful of almonds. Most days, it’s one for Zeke, one for Dad, one for Zeke, one for Dad. (OK, sometimes Dad cheats on the allocation when Zeke isn’t looking. OK, OK, more than sometimes.)
Zeke wolfs down his Almond without breaking his eye lock with Dad. No chewing. Straight down the gullet. 1 Almond. 2 Almonds. 3 Almonds. Same pattern. He gives me the same desperate look that he might miss out on his share if he breaks his stare. (Those eyes are telling me that he knows that I’m cheating him out of his allocation.)
I proceed to tell him that “maybe you should chew your almonds and enjoy them rather than just scarfing them down without tasting them – maybe you won’t keep begging for more.” (I’m no different that you other dog owners. I believe he understands me but he just doesn’t want to cooperate.)
Flashback to April 28, 2002, almost 10 years to the day. (I thought this was 5 years ago. I looked up the purchase date on Amazon. It was 10 years ago when I read “Anger” which was written by a Buddhist Monk by the name of Thich Nhat Hanh. Rocked again on how quickly time passes.)
The only passage that I recalled from the entire book was this one…this coming during an Buddhist immersion reading period for me:
“When we eat well, we can eat less. We need only half the amount of food that we eat every day. To eat well, we should chew our food about fifty times before we swallow. When we eat very slowly, and make the food in our mouth into a kind of liquid, we will absorb much more nutrition through our intestines. If we eat well, and chew our food carefully, we get more nutrition than if we eat a lot but don’t digest it well….Eating is a deep practice. When I eat, I enjoy every morsel of my food. I am aware of the food, aware that I am eating. We can practice the mindfulness of eating – we know what we are chewing…We appreciate that it is wonderful to be sitting here chewing like this, not worrying about anything. When we eat mindfully, we are not eating or chewing our anger, our anxiety, or our projects. We are chewing the food, prepared lovingly by others. It is very pleasant. When the food in your mouth becomes almost liquefied, you experience its flavor more intensely and the food tastes very, very good. You may want to try to chewing like this today. You may discover the food tastes so delicious…”
None (I MEAN NONE) of this registered with me at the time. Ten years ago, this was complete and utter nonsense.
9:45 pm. June 26, 2012. I look down at Zeke. Four almonds left in my hand. And I recall the passage above again. (I’m telling my dog to slow down. To enjoy the Almonds. To chew slower. Maybe then he won’t need to eat so much.) I pause. I chuckle to myself. (I look at Zeke and I’m looking in the mirror.) I’m in awe as to how I even remembered the book. (Chopra. Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence.)
7:15 am. June 27, 2012. I grab a handful of almonds before I head out the door to work. My on-the-go-breakfast. I jump into the car. Before I gulp down the almonds, I stop. I think of Thich Nhat Hanh. And I start. I pop a few almonds in my mouth. I begin to count the bites. 5. 10. 15. I think about the California farmers who produced the almonds. 20. 22. 25. How they might have been picked, packed, and shipped to get to my mouth. 30. 35. 40. The nuts turn to liquid. The favor of the almonds is as intense as I’ve ever tasted. And for 45 bites I had been transported into "the mindfulness of eating.”
- Who would have thought…
- Living in Two Different Worlds. But operating in one mind.
- Research: Anger is a blessing. (About time)