Guided Meditation: Mindful Toast
The overarching objective of all mindfulness meditation is to learn the skill of paying attention to what is happening right here and now, to be fully present during everyday experiences and extract yourself from the dream-like stream of cogitation.
Toast a piece of bread and as it’s cooking, savor the distinctive aroma of white or brown, ready-sliced or crusty, seeded or unseeded. Note any happy mental associations that arise. Spread the toast with butter, Marmalade or whatever takes your fancy, listening to the rasp of the knife and appraising the texture of the toasted bread as you do so. Notice and accept any frustrations as they arise in your mind. Perhaps the butter is straight out of the refrigerator and difficult to spread? Perhaps some sticky marmalade has found its way onto your fingers?
When the toast is ready to eat, look at it as if you had never seen a piece of toast before. Notice the fine structure of the bread still visible around the edges where the spread hasn’t reached, the difference in coloring and texture compared with the crust, the smoothness or runniness of the butter, the glossiness of the marmalade, its contours on the bread, its coloration and constituents. Maybe there are fine strips or chunks of orange rind, tiny air bubbles, flecks of darker color. None of this is beneath your attention.
Sniff the toast and marmalade. Take a bite. Observe how the jaws, tongue and salivary glands immediately go to work of their own accord. Don’t try to stop them or slow them down, just note the crunch of each bite and the accompanying sounds inside your head. Now that you are actually paying attention, it might be surprising how loud these sounds are. Notice the changing texture of the food in your mouth as the teeth grind it down and saliva dissolved it. Give your full attention to the sharp acidity and sweetness of the orange, the oily butteriness of the butter, the buttery toastiness of the toast.
Try all the fully automated movements of the tongue, jaws, and lips as you chew and finally swallow. Notice the unfolding of all these behaviors as they happen, the almost unstoppable motivation to take another bite, and then another. All your impressions are valid, both the positive and negative. You may discover that you are enjoying the toast a whole lot more than if you’d just wolfed it down without thinking. Or perhaps you find the whole experience slightly disappointing. Maybe the toast is cold and chewy, the marmalade too sweet? There may be bitter, burned bits.
Accept it all with equanimity. This is simply how the toast is.
(excerpt from Siddhārtha’s Brain, by James Kingsland, pg 272)