Zen mealtime at a retreat

When the bell sounds, I move from choice to choiceless.
I stand in line and wait.
I move towards the prepared food.
I bow, and serve myself what is there, and I am grateful.
I walk to the next available place at table, and sit.
In this I remain choiceless, and the moments unfold before me.

We sit with our food and wait.
We hear the words of the five contemplations spoken.
At the sound of the bell we bow, and eat.
In silence, the food that has been nurtured and prepared
moves from our plates to our mouths
and then further into our bodies, and we are grateful.
We eat what is there on our plates, slowly.
In all this we remain choiceless, and the moments unfold before us.


Eating meditation with others can seem strange at first – eating in silence, focussing just on the food, and on the eating. Not engaging in sociability, or conversation, or reading, or watching TV, or doing emails. But after some┬átime it can become a very beautiful practice, transforming our relationship with food, with our bodies, and with the whole world. When we are able simply to do what is in front of us then our access to this present moment of being alive is usually a little easier.

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