Let’s talk about mindfulness, it’s one of my favourite subjects and something that I’m very passionate about. I recently read something that struck a chord with me, it’s that mindfulness is for all of life. That statement means mindfulness isn’t intended just for the 30 minutes of morning meditation, or during a relaxing yoga class, where it can be easy to cultivate. You can bring it into all areas of your life, to things that you enjoy and things that you don’t. However you feel about cooking – love or hate, or anywhere in between, it’s all good – it can be very interesting to approach it mindfully once in a while. So today I’ve put together five of my favourite mindful cooking tips to share with you.
When you come into the kitchen, try to leave the day behind you, try to leave the future be, take at least three deep breaths. With each inhale feel the sensations in your body as your abdomen expands, and with each exhale, become more and more relaxed. But don’t close your eyes, as you’ll obviously need those to cook!
2. Focus on one thing
Bring your focus to only one thing, cooking. Try to leave all distraction behind, put your phone away and turn off the TV, podcast or audio book. Bring attention to what you are doing at that very moment. For example, if you are chopping an onion, you might notice the colour and texture of the onion skin and the sound the knife makes as it hits the wooden board, or the smell that makes your eyes well up. I sometimes find that repeating the name of the action that I am performing helps to maintain my concentration if my mind is wandering, for example, repeating “chopping chopping chopping” whilst bringing all my senses to attend that action.
This is a great cooking tip too, but tasting your food as you go along is a great way to bring awareness to the present moment whilst you’re cooking. Be sure to really taste the food though, pay close attention to the various tastes that are present. Is it sweet, salty, bitter, sour, or have that delicious umami? How do those tastes change over time? You might find it helpful to close your eyes to maximise the sensitivity of your taste buds, and please make sure your spoonful isn’t too hot before you taste!
4. Mindfulness of snacking
It’s oh so easy to start snacking on the food you’re preparing, especially if you’re tired and hungry whilst you’re putting dinner together. When I’m practicing mindful cooking I try to only cook (see point 2) and not eat or snack, though tasting is okay. This also means I enjoy the meal so much more when it’s ready.
Look at the kitchen around you and think about all that you have, and all the convenience you are able to access. Think about all the amazing fresh food in your fridge, and how we can buy almost anything we desire to eat without too much effort. Can you cultivate a sense of gratitude for all that you have? When I look at my kitchen I feel so incredibly grateful for all the convenience that I have, for example, hot and cold running water, electricity, ovens, fridges, freezers, and I could just go on and on. Without all of this I wouldn’t be able to cook and create wonderful edible creations and bring pleasure to those I love.
Mindful cooking can be a great way to experience the routine in a completely different light, something to try from time to time. I hope you enjoy these mindful cooking tips, I’d love to know what your favourites are, please let me know in the comments below!
With love and gratitude for running water and my kettle, I’d be lost without a warming cup of tea x
Disclaimer: I am not a trained mindfulness professional. I write as part of my own mindfulness practice and to share my experience with others.