In today’s offering at “The Living Yoga Blog” we share another audio clip from our “Living Yoga Immersion,” this week exploring the topic: “I know it would be good for me to eat in silence, but I have a hard time giving up the chance to connect with others….”
As mentioned in the reply, this is a common challenge. Meals can of course be a valuable opportunity to connect with others – and, in today’s busy world, it’s often one of the few times we have to interact with family or friends. That much said, there are some great benefits to eating in silence, including a form of connection that can run deeper than speech.
Eating in silence provides:
- Greater pleasure – When we aren’t distracted by discussion or other media, we enjoy our food more and are more conscious and appreciative of the experience.
- Better digestion – When free from the agitation or excitement of talk and other stimuli, we generally eat in a more relaxed state. We also eat more slowly and chew more thoroughly, all resulting in better digestion and assimilation.
- Better choices – When distracted or excited by conversation or television, it is easy to fall into less than ideal food choices or to continue eating long past being sated. By devoting full attention to our meal, we are more likely to make better choices, both in what we eat and when we stop eating.
- Increased mindfulness – By spending our meals in silence, we set a pattern of attentiveness that naturally carries into the rest of our day. By paying greater attention to what lies before us, we can dramatically increase both our pleasure and our success in all areas of life.
- Better connection – Finally, as counter-intuitive as it might sound, eating in silence can actually build greater connection with others. When we aren’t distracted by conversation, we not only enjoy our food more fully, but also more deeply appreciate the presence of those around us. We pay more attention to the expressions on the faces of our loved ones and subtle things like their body-language – again, things we often miss when distracted by talk. In this way, we are often able to make a connection that discussion can actually hamper.
That much said, it is again completely natural to want to connect with others over food, especially when meals are one of the few times we have with friends or loved ones. For that reason, you might explore a purposeful balance of the two – either designating one meal each day where you might enjoy eating together in silence, or choosing to eat silently but making a point of setting aside the time after the meal to sit, digest, and share and connect. I think you’ll find even a little experience of eating in silence will significantly shift the way your family and friends talk – just as it tends to lead toward greater mindfulness of our food choices, it also leads to deeper awareness of what we choose to talk about, again allowing for even deeper and truer connection with those we love.