A few months ago, I began doing an informal survey on people’s thoughts over the sensuality of watching people eat. Its a juicy topic and I’m still gathering thoughts and trying to wordsmith the post perfectly. In my ‘research’, a topic that came up for those in the dialogue was how intimate the act of eating with someone is. All those involved are open, in the act of receiving nourishment while sharing in conversation, time and space. It leads to a truly present and profound opportunity for connection. Ideally.
I attended a gathering the other day with a good size group of people coming together for a social dinner. (To spare any ill feelings I have written this quite a bit before posting it to gain some distance from the event.) Most of us in attendance knew each other fairly well, and truly it was to be a lovely evening. The food was deliciously prepared, and because most of us had eaten together before, there was an expectation of ease, comfort and just plain good conversation.
In no way is this what happened. There was someone in attendance who for various reasons made it impossible for the rest of the group to just Be. I found that, not only was I in a constant state of holding up a boundary for what felt like stimulation overload, but at the end of the meal, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I had eaten or even if it was good. There was no receptivity, no sense of flow, and what was most remembered by those feeling this way, was the looks of discomfort shot across the table. My body feels tight even now as I recount the evening.
It was such an interesting experience for me, because I had taken for granted the fact that I am very conscious about who I spend time with and have in my life. So I really never have to flex my discernment muscle when thinking about who is ok to break bread with. In hindsight, with this particular event, there is no way I could have known, but it did wake me up to the importance of who I engage with in such an intimate exchange. Because how we feel while we are eating greatly impacts what we receive from that meal. And I believe that is true of both the nourishment for our physical bodies as well as the nourishment for our souls.
The interesting thing is that we don’t always have a choice, right? Like me, what if you’re invited to a dinner party? What if you don’t know everyone there? How do you manage that, or control for what could be an unpleasant situation?
In the end there is no way to control every single interaction we have. But active discernment can certainly be used in who we invite over for dinner in our homes, for which restaurants we go to eat at, and which parties we say yes to. In the latter situation, I think some information is always available by way of the person inviting you. Do they feel the same way as you about eating in a conscious, kind, and emotionally healthy environment? Its something to think about. Because here is what I think; life is way to short to suffer through a meal by having to shut down your receptiveness to the experience in order to avoid someone else’s unpleasantness.