What happens when we meet ourselves right at the point of a mindful eating decision? One image of the mindful approach is to imagine that we are taking our relationship to food off autopilot. It’s pretty typical to eat without fully noticing what we are doing in the moment. Even if we start out with attention and intention, suddenly we are finishing off our plate, realizing that the whole meal went by while we were talking, reading, scanning our feeds, or just not being there.
Think of driving to work every day. Do miles of road go by while you are working out your day, or just daydreaming, drifting from thought to thought? Yup, literal autopilot.
At times, we do need to put something on autopilot. Attention is a limited resource, and in mindful eating we are not talking about exhausting ourselves or becoming hyper-vigilant. Hyper-vigilance leads us back into the traps of diet culture.
At the same time, we can use mindful approaches to bring ourselves into present awareness, and slow down the chain reaction of food thought – food selection – eating – whatever feelings occur after we finish. One method for this is RAIN, a familiar mindfulness contemplation attributed to Dr. Tara Brach.
We can bring the RAIN approach to our eating by following the four steps:

We will take up aspects of this deep and far-reaching RAIN practice for mindful eating in future posts and in the Mindful Eating Group meetings. For now, consider releasing the autopilot during this holiday weekend, and bringing gentle attention to each meal.

Mindful Eating aspiration:

“I bring myself fully into present mindful attention when I eat as often as possible, without self-criticism or unrealistic expectations.”