WBPF Meeting April 3, 2009 7:30 pm - Notes

Only six of us were able to join Hugh Byrne that early Spring Friday evening at the Friends Meeting House in NW DC. After 10 minutes of silent meditation, Maria moderated 90-minutes of thoughtful discussion and mutual deep listening about Mindful Eating as it relates to our personal mindfulness practice, Global Warming and Climate Change. We were grounded by our reading of the book, The World We Have, in which Thich Nhat Hanh explores the connection between personal mindfulness practice and Global Warming and Climate Change. Thay points out that meat production, energy-intensive agriculture, food processing and food transportation produce a major share of greenhouse gases that cause Global Warming, which causes Climate Change, which causes harm to people and other beings.

Our discussion focused mainly on our personal, successful and unsuccessful, experiences with trying to eat mindfully over the past month, as we promised ourselves at the February meeting we would try to do before this meeting in March. We learned from each other that even with the best of intentions, feelings run deep and habits are strong when it comes to observing, much less changing eating habits. We noted that much of our eating seems to happen literally unconsciously or in open defiance of our apparent will to the contrary. Health, family, friends and work sometimes, but not always, complicate our eating choices, especially vegetarian choices.

Some found it helpful to keep a log of everything eaten (for a week or so, at least). Others found it helpful to make a ritual of Mindful Eating preceded by gathas or prayer. Some hide food, "out of sight, out of mind". Some put limits on quantity or times of eating. For others, preparing meals, instead eating already prepared foods, brought more awareness and presence to eating. Some of us are trying to bring arising food cravings into mindful awareness and transform them, such as with the RAIN process: Recognition, Acceptance, Investigation, and Non-identification, as described in Thay's book.

Our concerns were not only about personally unhealthful eating. We also began to ask, but without answers yet, how can we make an engaged connection between personal Mindful Eating and broader efforts to mitigate Global Warming?

How can we avoid being judgmental or even feeling misjudged by family, friends or co-workers who are not convinced of the importance and urgency of averting Climate Change? How can we make a real difference through truly peaceful means? In his book, Thay says that reducing harmful eating by even just a little bit is a helpful start.

We agreed that it would be fruitful to continue observing our Mindful Eating practice and discuss it again with all who might come on May 12. We ended with a few minutes of silent meditation, followed by mindfully eating some light snacks thankfully provided by Bill, as he often does.

Please come on May 12 to share in this continuing discussion of our personal experiences with Mindful Eating.

Please be aware that Still Water Mindfulness Practice Centeris also discussing Thay's The World We Have, once a month at one of their weekly meditation and Dharma discussion evenings at Crossings (Silver Spring) and at Yoga Center of Columbia. Please see the details here.