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Practice : Ven.Mahasi Sayadaw

I mostly practice "daily life" meditation and I found this specific question very important ( I have got some illnesses due to this too)

I get intention to eat when I see "sweets" even I'm not hungry . Also eat more if it is a food I really "like" .

So I use mental notes "Craving , Craving " and "liking , liking " respectively .

Sometimes it passes away . But mostly it moves to " intending , intending " and then "eating" steps.

"Suppressing" works temporally but I know this is not the purpose of meditation.

I always try my best to follow below instructions,

 - When you look at the food, looking, seeing.

 - When you arrange the food, arranging.

 - When you bring the food to the mouth, bringing.

 - When you bend the neck forwards, bending.

 - When the food touches the mouth, touching.

 - When placing the food in the mouth, placing.

 - When the mouth closes, closing.

 - When withdrawing the hand, withdrawing.

 - Should the hand touch the plate, touching.

 - When straightening the neck, straightening.

 - When in the act of chewing, chewing.

 **- When you are aware of the taste, knowing.**

 - When swallowing the food, swallowing.

 - While swallowing the food, should the food be felt touching the sides    of the gullet, touching.

And I found "- When you are aware of the taste, knowing" is extremely momentary compare to other steps (relatively longer when having a beverage like coffee or soft drink) . Sometimes I miss that step completely .

How should I handle "intention"(cetanaha) of eating without "suppressing"?

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    Could you explain the term 'Daily Life Meditation'? Do you not practice sitting meditation? – TheDarkKnightRules Jun 2 '15 at 10:41
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    I have a question regarding the "suppression" aspect of your question. What exactly do you mean by suppression? In vipassana we look at reality as it is thereby not suppressing stuff. In samatha the hindrances are suppressed, suspended but they are not weakened. In vipassana the hindrances are weakened. It might take a long time, even lifetimes before they are done away with. The time-aspect is not that important. Whats important is that by observing and noting the defilements they are weakened since one sees them for what they are - phenomena that arise and cease on their own accord. – Lanka Jun 2 '15 at 10:58
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    @Lanka that's what I was wondering too, as I started typing up a response. Can you suppress an action you haven't even taken up yet? It seems like "not suppressing", in this instance, is a justification to giving into, and acting on the craving and carrying through with the act of eating itself, instead of just continuing to note craving? – Ryan Jun 2 '15 at 11:25
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    @Lanka What help me a lot in my everyday is moving slower. I mean really slow Speaking of "moving meditation" and physical existence, and seeing your interest in the Chinese martial arts, it's possible you might enjoy learning Tai Chi sometime if you ever get the chance to find a sufficiently expert teacher. That can be really, really slow. For example during the 2nd minute of this video (which shows a beginner practice) he takes only two or three steps in one minute. – ChrisW Jun 2 '15 at 13:15
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    When I first started to learn Tai Chi in my '30s I thought, "Isn't it strange, there are all those schools I went to for so long, and this is the first time anyone has tried to teach me how to walk." – ChrisW Jun 2 '15 at 13:16
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This doesn't quite answer the question, but because you said "I have got some illnesses due to this too" ...

I find I'm bad with sweets. After I eat a sweet biscuit, I want another! After I eat a slice of bread, I want another!

Apparently some people get addicted.

  • Consider alcohol, for example: many people are able to drink a glass or two regularly; some people aren't able to drink one glass, they want to drink the whole bottle, they want to drink several bottles, they don't want to stop. For people who are unable to moderate their drinking it's better to not drink at all.

  • Or cigarettes: I heard of someone who used to have one cigarette per day. She was, perhaps not an addict? But for many people who smoke, once they start they can't stop.

So, sweets and bread, a month or two ago I stopped eating them altogether: which is better for me. If I don't think of those foods (sugar and wheat) as "mine" any more if see them, then I don't start to eat them and then it's not difficult to stop (because I already successfully stopped a few months ago). Like looking at meat, I don't find it attractive: the thought doesn't occur, "suppose I were to put that in my mouth and taste that ...", I lack any intention so there's never contact.

It's also easier to break contact if it's not around. If I stop buying meat, buying cigarettes, buying alcohol, buying bread, having biscuits in the cupboard and soft-drinks in the fridge, then it becomes easier not have them and to then be unable to stop having them.

For what it's worth when I quit eating meat (a long time ago) I found I'd still get hungry, so I learned to eat other things instead. If your intention when you eat is satiety and nutrition (which I think is canonical: wanting to remove the feeling of hunger but without causing a subsequent feeling such as feeling over-full) it's better to choose things other than sugar: e.g. vegetables, fibre, protein, fat, water, and traces of minerals and vitamins.


The Bhikkhuni Sutta explains 'eating to destroy old feelings [of hunger] and not create new feelings [from overeating]',

"'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk, considering it thoughtfully, takes food — not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification — but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, [thinking,] 'Thus will I destroy old feelings [of hunger] and not create new feelings [from overeating]. I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.' Then he eventually abandons food, having relied on food. 'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.


I suppose there's one other thing I should say, about breaking the chain or changing the connection between "liking" and "intending": which is that maybe not everything you 'like' is good for you; and that craving is known to be a cause of dukkha.

Now you have experience of the consequences of "eating when I see sweets even I'm not hungry". Perhaps you see disadvantage or dissatisfaction in that (health problems for example). So maybe when the thought occurs, "I see a sweet: suppose I were to eat it..." then maybe you ought to have some 'second thoughts' about it: like, "... that would not be satisfying, I could eat it and then I would still want another"; or, "... I would feel remorse"; or something like that.

  • Chris, is this the canonical reference you mentioned? AN4.37 – Robin111 Jun 2 '15 at 21:32
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    It was the description of eating in AN 4.159 that I was remembering. Thanks for asking. – ChrisW Jun 2 '15 at 22:02
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It is not Mahasi noting, but the core of the Buddha's teaching: Dependent origination(D0) and others.

Depending on contact feeling arises, depending on feeling craving arises, depending on craving, clinging arises, depending on clinging becoming (this is when intention arises and action(kamma) begins.

The first point is contact, don't go near food when it is not meal time! For your mindfulness is not strong enough yet!

When feeling, craving arises you still have the choice of breaking away from contact with the food (move physically or mentally away)for clinging to arise. All this comes from the very basic practice which the Buddha taught guarding the senses or sense door.

If you have strong attachment for food there is a practice recommended by the Buddha contemplation of the foulness of food, that the end product of eaten food is faeces. See food as also only the four great elements..and other insight practices to actually deal with the craving.

  • Samadhi, do you have a good link for Dependent origination? That might be helpful to your answer. – Robin111 Jun 2 '15 at 14:06
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    @Robin111 - Thanks for the suggestions. I have added a few more links that would be helpful. – Samadhi Jun 2 '15 at 14:29

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