What is mindful cooking and how to practice it – Headspace
Techniques for conscious cooking
Use these three techniques to bring a higher level of awareness
, focus, and clarity to your kitchen: Remove your
smartphone from the kitchen: Trying to do too many things at once decreases your ability to switch between tasks and makes you less able to focus on any activity. The mere presence of your smartphone in the room, even if you’re not actively looking at it, reduces the available brainpower, according to a study published in The University of Chicago Press Journals in 2017. Before you start cooking, put your phone on silent and place it somewhere away from the kitchen. While you’re at it, turn off your TV, radio, and Alexa.
Be mindful of food with all your senses: Instead of getting lost in your thoughts, allow yourself to be fully present with the sounds, smells, textures, and physical sensations of cooking. Let’s say you start thinking about how hungry you are or how much money you spent at the grocery store. First, take a minute to recognize that your mind has drifted and notice where your mind wants to travel (this technique is called noting). Then, gently refocus on cooking, perhaps the smell of simmering pasta sauce or boiling water. This type of mindfulness training, whether practiced inside or outside the kitchen, is accessible through meditations and exercises in the Headspace app.
: consciously think about each and every ingredient you cook with. What is its taste, smell and texture? What will you add to the dish? Where does it come from and how was it grown or produced? When you’re curious about the ingredients you’re using, you’ll begin to appreciate those ingredients more, and you’ll get and handle them with special care and consideration.
Consider the ingredients you cook with
process of making a baked dish (think a
peach shoemaker) is different from making a dish that requires you to be constantly involved (think fried rice). But you can practice mindful cooking no matter what dish you’re making. Here’s how:
- Inactive cooking (little to do)
After you’ve prepared your dish (e.g. peach shoemaker), place it in a preheated oven and set a timer. Sit not far from the kitchen in a comfortable position. Be aware of constantly changing smells, sounds, sensations, and thoughts as you gently focus on your breathing. Notice when your mind worries and where it wants to travel, then gently return your awareness to your breath when it does.
When the timer goes off, instead of simply assuming your plate is cooked, go back to the kitchen and use each of your senses to determine if your plate is ready to be taken out of the oven. Is it golden to your liking? Does it smell delicious? Can you hear the bubbling of the filling inside? Once you take your dish out of the oven, pause to acknowledge the unconditional attention and care you’ve put into your mindful cooking practice.
- Active cooking (lots to do)
From the first moment you enter the kitchen, anchor your mind on the physical senses and task at hand. Be aware of how your mood and thinking changes, and after you’ve observed how your mind behaves, gently bring your concentration back to the sounds and smells of the food you’re cooking.
Don’t let your mindfulness meditation stop once the meal is ready: you can bring the same mindfulness to eating and enjoying the dish you’ve created.