Smith College Admission Academics Student Life About Smith news Offices
Five College Calendar
Smith eDigest
Submit an Idea
News Archive
News Publications
Planning an Event
Contact Us
News & Events
By Lily Samuels ’11   Date: 10/18/10 Bookmark and Share

Slow Down, Take a Bite, Focus, Enjoy

In America of today, with its worship of all things speedy and efficient, taking time to eat a meal often becomes a perfunctory, even burdensome, task for the busy student. Too many repasts are performed thoughtlessly and sometimes skipped altogether because of the time they require.

Now, with the support of Smith’s wellness office, Smith students have a chance to change that by taking their meals in the Mindful Eating Space, a designated dining area in which eating, by design, ceases to be a chore and becomes instead a thoughtful exercise in self-respect.

Located in the special dining room in the southern end of King-Scales dining hall, the Mindful Eating Space opened its doors in September. The space is available to all students Monday through Friday during lunch hour and is maintained by the dining staff at King-Scales.

The Mindful Eating Space provides a non-judgmental, peaceful atmosphere in which students can eat meals thoughtfully, slowly, and often silently, says Emily Nagoski, director of wellness education. “It's a friendly experience, but not a ‘social’ one in the traditional sense,” she adds.

The idea for the Mindful Eating Space began when filmmaker Diane Israel visited campus last spring in conjunction with the screening of her documentary Beauty Mark, which delves into issues of body image and disordered eating, particularly among female athletes. While dining with students, Israel discussed the Smith community’s need for a place where eating could be embraced as a time for honesty, reflection, and self-honoring.

The Mindful Eating Space was born.

Mindful eating is like an art, say those who practice it. It requires intent and focus.

“Mindful eating is very pleasant,” writes Buddhist monk, teacher and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh in his book of essays The Path of Emancipation: Talks from a 21-Day Mindfulness Retreat. “We sit beautifully. We are aware of the people that are sitting around us. We are aware of the food on our plates. This is a deep practice.”

Smith’s Mindful Eating Space offers a somewhat more pragmatic approach. The space is for those “who want to improve their relationship with food and their body, or who are interested in exploring practical strategies to improve their concentration, working memory, and mood, while reducing stress and anxiety,” describes the wellness office brochure.

Students who frequent the Mindful Eating Space are encouraged to honor their inner wisdom by listening, acknowledging without judgment their preferences of one food over another, respecting moments of hunger and of satiety, and being patient with themselves as they hone their skills.

The space is about slowing down, taking a detour from modern society’s frenetic pace, eating with awareness, and enjoying food again.

For more information about the Mindful Eating Space at Smith, contact the wellness office. Also, learn more about the practice of mindful eating.

DirectoryCalendarCampus MapVirtual TourContact UsSite A-Z