Lunch is undoubtedly the hardest meal for most people. Whether you’re a busy mom, stuck in an office where most people take their lunch at their desk, or someone who is out an about escorting different sales reps and vendors to local lunch hot spots – lunch in and of itself is really complicated.
I touched briefly on lunch in my post: 5 Times to Be Present Every Day but if we’re being honest, this has been the hardest area for me to tackle.
For me, mindfulness doesn’t come from a relaxing bath or meditation, it truly stems from allowing myself to be present in each moment.
Except, lunch is often rushed. It is wedged into the day and thoughts of what I was working on, what I should be working on, and an endless list of to do’s and to considers streams through my mind.
Today I found myself really having to remind myself how to be more present.
It is my first rest day since moving and getting everything put away – my carpal tunnel has deemed me unable to do most things, so I have no choice but to relax. My biggest thing to tackle today is to make a grocery list and meal plan for the rest of the month.
For some people this seems easy enough, but having a complicated relationship with food makes this the least pleasant thing to spend my day doing. So many foods make me feel awful. I have to carefully look for how things were processed, or better/fresher alternatives. I have to sift through recipes and remind myself that shallots are just onions. I have to consider if it’s time to explore eliminating a certain type of food to see if my health can continue to improve. I have to consider how quickly certain foods spoil. And most importantly, I have to allow myself to think about food in a more positive light and not hyper-focus on it.
So, a day where I’m bound to spend a bulk of the time thinking about food, presents challenges.
I discovered an awesome app that I can load all my existing pantry and fridge items into and then create a grocery list from there, so as I waited for rice to simmer I spent half an hour scanning in all of my items and inputting expiration dates.
As I sat down to enjoy an egg-salad sandwich my mind wouldn’t pause.
For many of us, we eat lunch alone which forces us to feel like we’re engaged in something as we’re eating. We don’t truly like the idea of being so alone.
It occurred to me that in this moment, I was just like everyone else. We want to sit back and enjoy our lunch but in this brief period of rest we feel as if we must catch up. We catch up with texts we’ve missed, we glance through our non-work related emails, we scroll through social media to see what’s been going on throughout the day. Then we’re bombarded with whatever task we’d taken on before lunch that still has to be addressed when we’re finished.
I glance down and there’s a grocery list I’d started last night – do I input these few items into this new app on the grocery list section? It would only take a few seconds.
I decide against it and decided I’ll plan out meals first and then add to my grocery list all at once.
I glance across the counter and there’s a receipt for the few items I picked up to have ready for breakfast on my first night here. Wasn’t there some app that you could scan in your receipts and get cash back? Or was that just for Walmart? And suddenly I’m googling various apps and reviews and instantly decided Ibotta would be a great thing to try and I’m downloading it and then the screen pops up to create my account.
And the egg-salad all squished out of my sandwich.
Why wasn’t I paying attention to the food I was consuming?
Why couldn’t I focus in on lunch and allow myself to simply observe. And I realized, the only reason I couldn’t do these things was because I was choosing not to.
I locked my phone and placed it face down on the counter. I put my sandwich back together and admired how pretty the bright egg-salad looked with the fresh spinach leaves.
I realized that hey, the whole wheat bread I made this sandwich with isn’t actually that gross. I’ve always been an oatnut gal, but I accidentally got the wrong loaf.
And suddenly my mind was wandering.
What really is the difference between oatnut and whole wheat. Is one actually better for you? Are there other, even better breads out there worth trying? Maybe the idea of grabbing the day old breads from the bakery wasn’t a bad idea… I’d have to plan out consuming more bread so it wouldn’t spoil but fresh baked bread is bound to be much healthier than something full of preservatives.
My grocery list came back into view, above the list was a list of money’s owed and where they needed to be paid. But I had to consciously acknowledge that those didn’t need my attention. They had both been accomplished. I had paid my credit card and I’d sent my mom money. The physical checkmark next to each item wasn’t enough, I had to mentally allow myself to acknowledge that these tasks were complete.
Sure my mind was still on a mental whirlwind but that’s okay.
Often times its discussed in meditation that the act isn’t intended to clear our mind or be free of thoughts, it’s a time where we’re supposed to be open to receiving our thoughts and allowing ourselves to fully process them or acknowledge various feelings.
Being present while eating my lunch means allowing my thoughts to run free but not attaching any action to them while I’m eating. I don’t need to scan in a grocery receipt and download an app while eating. I can decide that later this afternoon I’ll go through some of my recipes and pick out what I want to eat this week.
Being present during lunch means putting away my cell phone. If I want a few moments to check in on this or that I can do so after I’ve eaten. Balancing a sandwich and a cell phone is quite silly.
Lunch happens at the busiest time of our day. We can’t expect to be checked out in the same way we are when we’re enjoying our first sip of coffee. We can’t expect to feel like our day is coming to a close like we do as we eat dinner.
Learn to embrace the silence.
Learn to allow your thoughts to embrace you.
Take the time to let your mind explore every tangent – you might just encounter new solutions or ideas.
Take the time to breathe in between each bite of food.
And take that time every day.
Eating lunch is considered optional – it shouldn’t be.
Being mindful is considered almost exclusive and unattainable and exists only for the spiritually inclined, wellness hippies… it shouldn’t be.