Mindful Eating Experiment: Eating With Your Non-dominant Hand

My left hand and a mandarin

Yesterday I stumbled upon a great mindful eating experiment: eat with your non-dominant hand!

I discovered this because I injured my right thumb – silly story, just smacked right into a pole while my hands were full and I wasn’t looking up, which resulted in the nail bending back. The nail is still in tact but the skin underneath is raw and sore.

It’s mandarin season here in California, and we bought a giant bag of mandarins the other day. They’re quite easy to peel but I usually peel them with my right thumb. Not wanting to get stingy citrus juice in my wound, I realized I had to use my other thumb. And a mindful eating exercise was born (I’m sure other practitioners have done this, but it was a new idea to me 🙂

As I peeled the mandarin, I was reminded of a mindful eating exercise that I sometimes lead in workshops – often done with a tangerine, but you can do it with any fruit that you have to peel. The exercise is from the Facilitator’s Manual for the Course on Nonviolence, by the San Antonio Peace Center, edited by Susan Ives:

Tangerine Mindful Eating Exercise

I slowly peeled the tangerine, the first incision with my left thumb giving a spray of juice and a burst of sweet scent. Just the act of using my left hand forced me to be slower than usual, which then translated into eating the mandarin a little slower.

That evening, when it was time for dinner, I decided to try eating with my left hand again. I ate the pasta with a spoon and I was surprised at my ability to eat with my left hand. I felt like I was probably holding the spoon awkwardly but my husband didn’t seem to notice. I was more aware of the presence of the spoon in my hand, its weight, the way I was holding it – things I might not have been aware of even if I was trying to practice mindful eating with my right hand. Again, it helped me to slow down.

Try it out – it’s a fun little experiment!

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