Savor Your July 4 Celebration: The Practice of Mindful Eating

06/30/2011 11:00 am ET | Updated Aug 30, 2011

Eating is often the focus of our July 4 celebration. Yet, most of us tend to eat mindlessly most of the time, missing the joy of savoring delicious food prepared with much heart and hard work.

Let's focus on how to eat mindfully so that we truly enjoy our food and eat with compassion and understanding. Mindful eating means simply eating or drinking while being aware of each bite or sip. You can practice it at any meal, whether you are alone in your kitchen or with others in a crowded restaurant. You can even practice mindful drinking when you pause to take a sip of water at your desk. Mindful eating allows us to fully appreciate the sensory delight of eating and to be more conscious of the amount and nature of all that we eat and drink. When practiced to its fullest, mindful eating turns a simple meal into a spiritual experience, giving us a deep appreciation of all that went into the meal's creation as well a deep understanding of the relationship between the food on our table, our own health and our planet's health.

Engaging in mindful eating, even if only for a few minutes, can help you recognize how the practice of mindfulness encompasses all spheres and activities, including ordinary tasks. Take drinking a glass of water: if we are fully aware that we are drinking the water, and we are not thinking of anything else, we are drinking with our whole body and mind. While eating, we can also be aware of how we feel and of how we consume, whether we are truly hungry, and whether we are making the best choices for our health and the health of the planet.

Mindful eating sees each meal as representative of the whole cosmos. Look closely at an apple and you can see a cloud floating in it, as well as the rain, the earth and the sunshine that made the apple tree flower and fruit. Recognize that this apple contains the universe. When you bite into the apple, can you be fully aware that this is a miracle from the universe that you have just put into your mouth? Notice that there is nothing else in your mouth as you chew, no worries or anxiety. When you chew the apple, just chew the apple, not your future plans or anger. You must chew very consciously and with focus. When you are able to be there for the apple 100 percent, you will feel connected to the earth, to the farmer who grew the apple and also to the person who brought it to your table. Eating this way, you feel that strength, freedom and pleasure are attainable. This meal nourished not only your body but also your mind -- your whole being.

We invite you to visit our Facebook page and share what you have savored on this July 4.

This is an excerpt from 'SAVOR: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life,' reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. For more information about mindful eating, visit