01/30/2014 08:20 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mindful At Work Challenge, Day 4: Learning To Eat Mindfully

This post is part of an ongoing partnership between the Institute for Mindful Leadership and HuffPost as we work together to bring mindfulness to the workplace. The Institute has just opened enrollment for a number of retreats in NY and MN. More info can be found at http://instituteformindfulleadership.org/retreats/. We hope you'll join us in 2014!

By Janice Marturano.

Welcome back!

So far, we've begun training the mind to help boost our focus and clarity. Today, we will look at how we can apply some of what we've learned to an everyday event -- eating. More specifically, let's look at our daily lunch habits.

For most of us, there are days when we don't leave our desks to get lunch or when we grab something from a vending machine while running from one meeting to another. When we do have something nutritious to eat, it's often scarfed down while we're checking email or reading papers -- sometimes, all you really notice about lunch is that your plate is empty. You don't really know what you ate, what it tasted like, or at what point your body was feeling full.

So, let’s use our training of the past three days to look at today's lunch as a way to be more mindful at work. You can start by choosing to have lunch away from your desk, and forming an intention to use lunchtime to nourish our body and mind. In other words, let's move lunch out of the "check the box" mode and into an intentional space in our day to care for ourselves. Let's eat mindfully.

Begin by bringing your focus to the choice of food: Notice the colors, tastes and aromas. Put down everything else --laptop, smartphone, reports -- and just be fully present for the ways in which the body is meeting this moment. Can you notice hunger pangs? When do they start to go away? Are you thirsty rather than hungry?

Now turn your attention to the mind. Can you notice thoughts or emotions that might be present? Are there full-length feature films playing in your head, distracting you from enjoying this time to care for yourself? Can you redirect the mind when it wanders into worrying or criticizing or planning, and bring it back to the experiences of lunch, of making the choice to nourish yourself?

Beware also of the working lunch -- pizza and soda while working on a project just makes for greasy, sticky keyboards, and an uncomfortable fullness for the afternoon. It would be a much better idea for the group to put everything down for a while, take a true lunch break and then return to the task at hand with a fresh perspective and a well-nourished mind and body.

A mindful lunch, even if it is only for 15 minutes, can make a big difference in your day. It allows you to make more clear choices about how you will nourish yourself, and it allows the mind and the body to settle down. You emerge from lunch a bit more centered and a bit more renewed. Over time, you might also find yourself making some discoveries and understanding a bit more clearly which foods are best for you and improve your energy in the afternoon..

Here's today's mindfulness training:

  1. Continue to practice with this meditation at least once, and preferably twice, each day.

  • Have a mindful lunch, as described above, today and tomorrow. What do you notice? Record your observations.
  • Continue to find purposeful pauses and add them to your day. Please consider sharing with this community your ideas for a Purposeful Pause or a mindful lunch.
  • Have fun and see you tomorrow.