I’m not one for yoga or meditation… don’t get me wrong, I like to relax and take time out, but I’m not one with getting down onto a sweaty mat and trying to relax my mind whilst sweating it out in lycra.
However, something caught my eye when I discovered a Norfolk blogger called Leah Larwood at Roots & Toots the other day.
I found her through our mutual love for Figbar, a dessert bar in Norwich with THE best cakes, puddings and desserts the city has to offer… I noticed she too had written a blog on them recently, so I had a quick nosey at her beautiful blog posts and added her to my social media lists.
She’s a great sharer and one of her blog posts (“Toast: A Meditation”) stuck in my mind.
For days after I craved toast.
Not just any toast, but a strong cuppa next to some good quality sourdough with the beautiful, creamy butter I brought back from my recent stay in the Lake District.
Last night, I went home with a small loaf of seeded sourdough from “The Bertinet Bakery” range (a bakery I enjoyed visiting in Bath over my last few visits to this beautiful spa city) at Waitrose (only the best for this ritual!) and got myself into clean, comfy pyjamas and warm slippers, ready to relax into my evening.
I had the house to myself, so I went all out. I dimmed the lights, set fire to my favourite candles, watched some episodes of the “Big Little Lies” boxset I had received at Christmas and I set a tea tray with my favourite tea crockery… A knitted Cath Kidston tea cosy I haven’t used for ages, my favourite Alison Appleton teapot, a fun plate, even my new skeleton teaspoon – all completely mismatching, but my all time favourite pieces to enjoy this new form of meditation…
❝ Buttery toast. One of life’s little pleasures. But how many of us really taste everything when we eat? Not just when we’re eating toast but with anything we consume. ❞
It’s such a true thought… I take for granted half the food and drink that passes my lips lately, so I sat up and took note, desperate to try thinking a little more about this.
The idea is to be more present in the smaller, more mundane experiences in our everyday life.
It might not be toast, it could be anything you like.
But, I couldn’t get the thought of hot, buttery toast out of my mind and when I think like this, I have to have it otherwise the thought will never escape – an itch just waiting to be scratched!
So I went home and carried out this ritual, allowing every sense to take over and enjoy the experience of toasting my sourdough. I think I did Richard Bertinet and Leah proud – I took my time, I enjoyed every mouthful, I even went out and bought more today for the weekend, I’m hooked on the simplicity and the joy it brings in equal measures.
Toast: A Meditation
The below meditation is taken from the book ” Siddhartha’s Brain – The Science of Meditation, Mindfulness and Enlightenment ” by James Kingsland.
Toast a piece of bread and as it’s cooking, savour the distinctive aroma of white or brown, ready-sliced or crusty, seeded or unseeded. Note any happy mental associations that arise. Spread the toast with butter, Marmalade or whatever takes your fancy, listening to the rasp of the knife and appraising the texture of the toasted bread as you do so. Notice and accept any frustrations as they arise in your mind. Perhaps the butter is straight out of the refrigerator and difficult to spread? Perhaps some sticky marmalade has found its way onto your fingers?
When the toast is ready to eat, look at it as if you had never seen a piece of toast before. Notice the fine structure of the bread still visible around the edges where the spread hasn’t reached, the difference in colouring and texture compared with the crust, the smoothness or runniness of the butter, the glossiness of the marmalade, its contours on the bread, its colouration and constituents. Maybe there are fine strips or chunks of orange rind, tiny air bubbles, flecks of darker colour. None of this is beneath your attention.
Sniff the toast and marmalade. Take a bite. Observe how the jaws, tongue and salivary glands immediately go to work of their own accord. Don’t try to stop them or slow them down, just note the crunch of each bite and the accompanying sounds inside your head. Now that you are actually paying attention, it might be surprising how loud these sounds are. Notice the changing texture of the food in your mouth as the teeth grind it down and saliva dissolved it. Give your full attention to the sharp acidity and sweetness of the orange, the oily butteriness of the butter, the butty toastiness of the toast.
Try all the fully automated movements of the tongue, jaws and lips as you chew and finally swallow. Notice the unfolding of all these behaviours as they happen, the almost unstoppable motivation to take another bite, and then another. All your impressions are valid, both the positive and negative. You may discover that you are enjoying the toast a whole lot more than if you’d just wolfed it down without thinking. Or perhaps you find the whole experience slightly disappointing. Maybe the toast is cold and chewy, the marmalade too sweet? There may be bitter, burned bits.
Accept it all with equanimity. This is simply how the toast is.
A huge thank you to Leah for allowing me to share this blog post with you, you can visit her blog here.
Why not try this for yourself? Report back in a comment below!
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