Weekend Meditation: The Comfort Zone

Weekend Meditation: The Comfort Zone

Dana Velden
Jun 29, 2008

We all eat somewhere around three meals a day, every day of our lives. Occasionally we get sick or we fast, and sometimes we go wild and eat the entire county. But basically it's breakfast, lunch and dinner with a snack or two thrown in. We're often deeply habitual about our food, not only what and when we eat, but how we eat and how we think about what we are eating.

I propose that we wake up from our habit slumber. What would happen if we try something just a little different, something that pokes at our comfort zone and brings a new perspective? Some folks do this by eating strange and challenging things but that's almost too easy these days, what with all those offal cookbooks and insect-eating TV shows. What would happen if you...

...where to try something like this?

FInd a trusted friend who is an excellent cook and ask them to blindfold you and then feed you an entire dinner. Many people will immediately start thinking of the sexy stuff, which is fine. But it doesn't have to be that way if you don't want it to. There is something very tender and caring that arises between giver and receiver, a baby bird-like moment that everyone should experience at least once.

Eat an entire meal with your fingers, even if it's not finger food. Even if one of the courses is soup. Eating straight out of hand slows things considerably and there's a primal, sensual quality to it that's very interesting and involving. And if you want extra bonus points, do it in public. Ha!

Try to see if you can spend one entire day tasting everything that goes in your mouth. Really tasting it. Each mouthful--even if it's the fourteenth bite of that salad. This is really hard to do and most of us fail at some point. You can start with trying this for just one meal, if a whole day seems too daunting. I predict you will be amazed at how much you don't actually pay attention to.

Invite an enemy to dinner. OK, so it may have to be someone with whom you have an uneasy relationship, or the person who just stole your promotion, or your politically polar opposite neighbor. But see what happens to when you cook and serve food to this person. Did anything change? What was it like to think about your enemy in terms of their pleasure and satisfaction?

Michael Pollan's Fourth Meal in The Omnivore's Dilemma was almost entirely foraged, which was interesting. But your task is to put together a meal that was entirely begged or borrowed. Yep, Everything in the meal has to have been willingly given to you by someone else. When was the last time you had to asked to be fed? What does this tell you about your relationship to trust? If it turns out that this is not too unusual for you, then invert it: empty your cupboards or go to the grocery store and get a bag of food and give it all away. To strangers, to friends, to whomever. How do people respond to you?

But these are just my ideas. Have you ever done anything that has shifted your views or changed your way of seeing things? What's taken you out of the comfort zone?

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