Enjoying a "Silent" Dinner - Rancho La Puerta
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Enjoying a “Silent” Dinner

Did you know that every Thursday night the Ranch offers a Silent Dinner?  Now you might be wondering, what exactly is a Silent Dinner?  I know that thought has crossed my mind since I’ve been to the Ranch.  Well, recently I decided to participate to see what the silence entailed.

It all began with one of the classes by our nutritionist, she was saying how important it is to really chew our food as opposed to just gobbling it down. It’s important because as humans we have a really long intestinal tract, so it takes 14 to 20 hours for our food to digest.  Digestion is hard on the body and takes a lot of energy, so one thing we can do to promote good digestion is to chew our food. That means 25-30 chews per bite.  Most of us are talking while we’re eating or watching t.v., so we usually don’t pay attention to this.The result is mindless eating and not chewing our food enough, thus bad digestion. After this explanation, she mentioned going to the Silent Dinner that night to practice mindful eating, so I decided to go.

The first thing we did even before we entered the room was hold hands and do a little prayer/meditation giving gratitude for this opportunity.  Then we entered the Los Olivos room, which is above the Dining Hall.  It’s totally secluded and quiet.  As we entered the room, I was surprised at how beautiful it was.  The only light was by candles, and there was a table set up for our small group.  There was also relaxing music playing in the background.  Since we couldn’t order our food through speaking, there were little cards that we put next to our place setting requesting sweet potatoes, brown rice or coffee.  If we wanted polenta instead of lasagna, then we were to put a stem of rosemary at the top of our plate.  Simple enough.

We then sat down and our Silent Dinner began by clinging two Tibetan Bells together.  At first it was a little awkward.  I for one, am not used to eating silently with other people, especially here at the Ranch where we’re used to really social meals. However, after just a couple of minutes we got into the hang of it.  We passed around the bread and butter without a problem.  We received our soup and ate it.  I noticed that Susana was taking the time between courses to meditate and since all of us were pretty much keeping to ourselves, I decided to try it too.  I guess it could have been the candle light, the relaxing music with no talking or even the food, but I had no problem meditating and zoning out.  I was completely relaxed almost to the point of taking a tiny nap between courses.  I can’t tell you how nice this was, especially after a long day.  Plus, I paid more attention to my food and “chewing” it properly.  Everything tasted especially delicious, and I noticed I was full much faster than normally.  Susana actually mentioned this after dinner and said it’s because we’re more aware of what we’re eating as opposed to be being distracted while we’re eating.

I highly recommend participating in Silent Dinner next time you’re here at the Ranch.  It’s only one night, and it’s so worth it.  I felt relaxed afterwards and had a great night’s sleep.  If you are at the Ranch and would like to attend, be sure to sign up for it in the Main Lounge before Thursday afternoon.  I know I will be attending again, so I hope to see you there!