Cookie of Childhood

From Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen monk

“When I was four years old, my mother used to bring me a cookie every time she came home from the market. I always went to the front yard and took my time eating it, sometimes half an hour or forty-five minutes for one cookie. I would take a small bite and look up at the sky. Then I would touch the dog with my feet and take another small bite. I just enjoyed being there, with the sky, the earth, the bamboo thickets, the cat, the dog, the flowers. I was able to do that because I did not have much to worry about. I did not think of the future, I did not regret the past. I was entirely in the present moment, with my cookie, the dog, the bamboo thicket, the cat, and everything.

“It is possible to eat our meals as slowly and joyfully as I ate the cookie of my childhood. Maybe you have the impression that you have lost the cookie of your childhood, but I am sure it is still there, somewhere in your heart. Everything is still there, and if you really want it, you can find it. Eating mindfully is a most important practice of meditation. We can eat in a way that we restore the cookie of our childhood. The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”

(Peace Is Every Step, 20-21, 1991)

Ah, to be in the mindful eating space – the next time you sit down to a meal, and yes, I did say sit down, take 10 deep breaths as you contemplate the space around you.

  • Is it cluttered, piles everywhere, unappetizing?
  • Is the TV blaring?
  • Is the computer loudly announcing ‘you have mail?’
  • Did you forget to sit?
  • Is your mind racing to your To Do list?
  • Are you wolfing down your food?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, what has to happen for you to say yes to them? What do you need to do so you can enjoy the palette of color before you in a clutter-free, fresh, inviting and quiet place instead? Take out a pen and paper and make a list – then get on to the joy of mindfully eaten meals.

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