Bringing all your senses into the ritual of eating
Several cultures, including Indian, use hands to eat their food. As a general statement, this can be explained as a way to “connect” all the senses to the sacred ritual of nourishing your body, with full awareness and mindfulness. But Ayurveda explains it in a very simple, yogic, and yet almost scientific way as a stimulation of the digestive system. Here’s what Bri Maya Tiwari says about it:
The ancient Vedic tradition of eating food with the hands is derived from mudra* practice. Gathering the fingertips of the right hand as they touch the food stimulates the five elements and invites the fire of digestion to bring forth its digestive juices. The sadhana of feeding yourself from hand to mouth enhances the vital memory and inner balance.
*Mudra: the term mudra […] denotes certain hand gestures used during yogic rituals and in the course of the performance of particular postures (asanas) and meditation. – The Shambala Encyclopedia of Yoga, Georg Feuerstein
For some of us, eating with the hands might not be the most appealing or the easiest thing to do especially when it comes to soup! But just try to experience the touch and start your “digestion” to the tip of your fingers, feeling the food you’re about to put in your mouth, noticing texture, temperature, color, shape… you’re already sending valuable information to your body and to your brain as how to process this specific food. And as you’re paying closer attention to what you eat – by touching, smelling, and savoring flavors with mindfulness, you’ll probably discover that you tend to eat less and better, also taking the time to enjoy the experience instead of just swallowing food down the throat in between two emails or meetings.