By Katharine (Kitty) White

On the evening of Friday, March 30th, I joined 5 other Sangha members (Wanda, Arthur, Rose and Lynnette) in experiencing the Last Friday Silent Supper at Judy Douglas’ home. After everyone had arrived and exchanged warm greetings, we gathered in front of Judy’s laptop to watch a video.

It featured Dr. Lilian Cheung, who co-authored the book, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life with Thich Nhat Hanh. She reviewed the seven practices of mindful eating.

  1. Honor the food. Think about where it comes from, the people involved in producing it.
  2. Engage all your senses. The sight, smell, texture and sound. Notice what is in your mind when you look at that food.
  3. Be mindful of portion size. Start with a modest amount. Use a dinner plate no larger than 9 inches.
  4. Chew the food. It helps in the digestion of the food and the sense of taste comes from the time it spends in the mouth.
  5. Eat slowly. Allows enjoyment of the food and we eat less as we feel fullness.
  6. Do not skip meals. By the time you eat again, you will eat much more.
  7. Eat a plant-based diet. Eating meat increases the risk of colon cancer.

Judy then directed us to enjoy a few minutes of silent meditation—either walking or sitting—with these practices in mind while she prepared the meal to be served. As I meditated, I found the sounds of implements clanging invoked craving, and I gently allowed it to pass away.

We maintained silence entering the dining room. Spices such as tumeric, curry and cumin wafted in the air, tantalizing us. The menu consisted of 3 courses. As I plunged into the Corn Vegetable soup, I was able to quell the urge to ravish it. I found myself feeling the texture of each vegetable with my tongue and savoring it’s individual flavor as it crushed between my teeth.

When we finished the soup, we served ourselves the main course of Yellow Fried Rice, (Chola) Chana Masala, Stir Fry Collard Greens and Nan-Bread from a side board. Each dish varied in the amount of spice to it. I first ate each separately, then tried a number of combinations which changed the flavor and heat.

The Apple Crumb Pie dessert was again served on the dining table. The manner of service, starting and ending on the dining table established a organized flow. Although we navigated the changes soundlessly, we were very aware of one another’s presence. When everyone finished, we broke silence to share our experiences.

We discussed how we were awakened to the sense of community, without the narration, and how we had gained a better appreciation for the sustenance we use to fuel our bodies. Since the supper, I noticed I give more consideration to nutrition and take time to savor each bite.

The next Supper will be Friday, April 27, 2012.  Contact if you Judy Douglas if you would like to participate.