Zeke + Buddhist Monk + Almonds = Enlightenment!

zeke staring at almond9:15 pm.  June 26, 2012.

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.)


Thich Nhat Hanh[8]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, 2012I 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.”


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  1. Zeke understands completely…just like you do when he talks back. My Jack Russell (Jake the Wonder Dog) has the same eating rate as Zeke, e.g., food is consumed in one inhale, no masticating whatsoever.

    I have found the same eating/meditation advice as given by Thich Nhat Hanh, from Eastern Orthodox Christian monks…strange how Truth finds its way every where.

    Thanks for the post.

    Be encouraged!


    • Hi Stephen. I was smiling reading your comments. Haven’t read anything from Eastern Orthodox Christian Monks but my guess is that we are fishing in same deep pool. Thanks for stopping by…Dave


  2. I’m still trying to understand why my dog does the same thing (swallowing a treat whole) and yet craves another treat right afterwards. Why? Because it tasted so good? I don’t think so. She looks forward to gobbling down her dinner, too. I’m sure she doesn’t chew it or taste it. Maybe the fact that it smells good while she’s eating is enough for her. In your case, you could probably have a second can filled with bread cubes and Zeke would enjoy those while you could have “all-the-monds.” Just in case Zeke can read, save an almond can to put the bread cubes in and feed him from it. Would be interesting, no?


  3. lkanigan says:

    Great post…still laughing. When ever I read something on eating slower or chewing bites a bizillion times I think of Billy Naz. who always did that. Still a work in progress for me.


  4. Your dog looks like he’s in a pose of peace in the picture..I lose the theme because I love looking at Viszlas – and Zeke is pretty darn gorgeous…I appreciate the exercise of chewing one’s food thoughtfully, arriving at a state of grace which allows one to limit their intake. I may try it (emphasis on ‘may’, because I am more like Zeke – give me it, let me eat it and then give me another). I know I need to be more mindful…and this gives me something concrete to try. Please don’t hold out much hope…but try I will


  5. This is wonderful!!!!


  6. Fabulous story and lesson, one that I can learn a lot from. It’s timely as well as lately I have even commented that I think I’m eating too fast! Now Zeke and you have shared a story to help me remember to slow down, enjoy, and even get more nutrition from the experience! And of course, I love that your dog has helped teach me something important. Dogs are more than companions, they help us look in the mirror, as you said. Thanks so much!


  7. How wonderful that Chopra and Thich Nhat Hanh and Zeke came together that late June evening to bring enlightenment about how to eat your almonds! Great teamwork here, I would say. Great connections! Hooray!



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