I have a problem — well, more than one, but thats not the point!
... I eat too fast...
Where this behavioral trait comes from, I do not know. Could it be some deep-seated fear that someone might swipe my meal if I don’t inhale it? What happened to me as a child?!
Putting psychoanalysis aside, the truth is I rarely enjoy my food. I just skim through it. Gloss over it, like some terribly dull email — It’s a small, yet telling reflection of how we often approach life, isn’t it?
But here's an experience I had just recently, prompting me to pen (type) this down:
I stepped out to our quaint little courtyard thing by the laundry room for some morning reading — the sun rises on this side, and they say starting your day with sunlight is beneficial to one's health (if you have such luxuries), something to do with blue light in our face and whatnot. Anyway, part of my 'morning ritual' — which is suspiciously consistent enough to perhaps be deemed an addiction — involves sipping coffee accompanied by a sweet treat— preferably of the baked kind.
Today was cookies.
The cookies of choice this sun-drenched morning were these thin, walnut chocolate-chip cookies. Perfectly sweet and dangerously addictive. Again, I usually slurp even solids, but these cookies are on another level — are they literally just made of air and sugar? It’s ridiculous how fast I burn through them!
So as I sat there, immersed in my book, delightfully steeped in warm rays of sun and coffee aromatics, I caught myself midway through the cookie carnage. The realization that I was nearly through the pack sparked a thought — why not slow down? Why not fully savor this cookie? Like, for real, what's the rush?
I began by setting 'cookie-consumption-boundaries,' promising myself a moderate bite at the end of each paragraph. This strategy effectively tempered my pace. The act of concluding a paragraph served as a cue, allowing myself the time and space to see how slow I could go about chewing the cookie, deploying as much attention I could to all the sensory details afforded to me:
I focused on the sensation as the cookie's rigid structure yielded under the pressure of my bite, collapsing between my molars. The way it crumbled and dispersed across my tongue. Noting the subtle temperature difference between the dough and the chocolate, the latter melting into cool, velvety streams, followed by the gradual announcement of the nutty-cacao tang. Filling the halls of my mouth with a rich and sweet atmosphere. I could sense how, on the other, far side of my tongue, the once firm and crunchy bread softened, cushioning against my cheek. It was warm. A different kind of melting. As I continued to chew, the rhythm of my jaw encouraging this sensuous orchestra, I payed attention to how the flavor, texture and temperature of each component came together into an expansive unity, funneling towards the back and center of my mouth, at which point I noticed how eager my body was to swallow, a distinctly primitive urge.
This "cookie" that had now transcended into a magical, complex concoction that went beyond any label, journeyed down my throat and into the enigmatic underworld of my digestive system…
And then, I was back. Ready to dive into the next paragraph.
This experience was such a fabulous reminder of the infinite depth and nuance one can access at any time, if we’re able to coax and direct our attention in the “right” way. (And if we can achieve this with cookies, imagine how we can deepen our experience of other people — or ourselves!)
Sometimes all it takes is a bit of negotiation with oneself. To gently reassure ourselves that "it’ll only be a moment", and then we can get back to “business as usual”.