So this month’s journey through mindfulness has been interesting. I’ve sort of been applying to different aspects of my life, just to test the waters. Last week’s post Mimetic desire was about being mindful when you are tempted by things or tempted by seeing what others have. This week, I experimented with mindfulness with eating. Not in the sense of just eating mindfully, but I went to a restaurant and really experienced eating alone. Now, when I mean eating alone mindfully, I mean not in front of the TV, alone, but really alone.
I recently had the opportunity to travel for work. Now, I love to travel, but this time I was on my own. No co-workers, no husband, no one to tag along with. I was excited but also a little apprehensive on how I would feel journeying by myself. Never had I ever done something like this on my own before. It helped that I was going to 1. a research conference (so my purpose was pretty easily laid out) and 2. I was traveling to New Orleans (plenty to do).
The first thing I plan for when traveling anywhere is where will I go to eat. This question has present itself with a few challenges, mainly because NOLA has way too many options. However, my research had laid out a few places that I absolutely had to try out. One of these was the restaurant La Petite Grocery. I made my reservation for a table for 1 a few months in advance so that I was guaranteed a spot at this James Beard Award winning restaurant.
Right before getting to the restaurant, I felt a little odd about the prospect of me going to eat by myself. Nevertheless, I forced myself to feel a little uncomfortable, because I felt like just maybe I could learn something through the experience. As I walked through those teal doors, I told the host that I had made a reservation for a table for one, he made a funny face as he looked down the list for my name.. I kind of smirked back, (thinking in my head, oh yea, I’m the badass sitting at my own table).
I ordered my wine (by the way, I think Malbec is my new fav…) and sat in silence as I looked around. I tried extra hard not to be too creepy prying at other people at their tables. (In my head I was that cool stranger living that glamorous life- no matter how far from the truth that really is) It didn’t take long to get my food and I had probably the BEST shrimp and grits that I have ever tasted.
I don’t have to talk about the food, we all know that the food was amazing. But what was very different for me in this experience was being in this sort of hyper-aware state of knowing and acknowledging everything around me. I noticed the family of three sitting in front me, I gave them a little back story. They seemed to be locals, enjoying a nice dinner in the middle of the week, after a busy day of work and school. The table next to me were most definitely out-of-towners in town for some other conference (not the same as mine). The decor and the atmosphere was something sort of engraved in my mind. I wasn’t caught up in conversation or on any one aspect of the experience. I really felt like I got a whole new experience eating alone.
I noticed how I ate. I felt every bite. I really paid attention to the texture of what I put in my mouth and how it felt when it hit my stomach. I can’t tell you the last time I was that attentive to the one thing that I was doing. It’s funny, that you can experience the same event in two completely different ways. Being 100% in the present lend itself to a whole new way of life!
Don’t get me wrong, it is not easy. Distractions are all over the place (especially in your phone). Sometimes the phone even felt like a security blanket, almost as if, well if I pay attention to this, then I won’t feel so alone! I didn’t let myself focus too much on that, and tried to redirect my thoughts to just enjoying this meal.
So, go and treat yourself to that dinner for one. Immerse yourself in the moment and see where it takes your mind!
Top and skirt from- Ann Taylor
Shoes- Chinese Laundry, from DSW