Silent Dinner - Chewing on Introspection - Rancho La Puerta
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Silent Dinner – Chewing on Introspection

Silent Dinner – In Praise of Introspection

On the way to the Silent Dinner, I entered the dining hall a little intimidated and feeling awkward.  I was joining the Silent Dinner on Thursday at The Ranch and the idea of sitting with strangers, thoughtfully chewing our food and mediating between meals was a little overwhelming.

The Silent Dinner is held in a separate dining room and away from the normal laughter and talking I enjoy at Ranch dinners. I was worried I would miss meeting new people and hearing about their stay and where they live. Instead, I was introduced to a deeper appreciation of what I eat and who I break bread with.  “Eating in silence,” says Maya, a Ranch Instructor, “is an opportunity to listen deeper and appreciate what we put into our bodies. You have a chance to notice all the different qualities of the food in a calm and peaceful place.”

Once inside the dining room, the other diners and I greeted each other and introduced ourselves before finding a seat.  Soft music was playing in the background as our waiter showed us our entrée options and took our order. Maya talked about taking the time to think about what it took for each course to reach our plate. “From the farmer and land, to the preparation and cooking, there were a handful of people that helped make this delicious soup of our first course possible.”  She also recommended thinking of an affirmation to meditate on instead of our normal chatter.

Everything was set just right for a distraction-free 90-minute five-course meal. Between each course, we sat without talking.  There were a few smiles of acknowledgment as I looked around at the other guests while others closed their eyes to meditate.  Before each course, Maya rang a little bell to let us know we could start to eat. We were all having our own silent experience but the pacing was communal. Some people set their fork down between bites and closed their eyes to really embrace and appreciate of what they ate.

Once the meal was completed and the last bites of a delicious slice of dessert and sips of tea were meditated on, Maya broke the silence.  She asked us if we had anything we wanted to share about the experience. For a slow, quiet meal, it went by fast. I felt refreshed and noticeably lighter in mood. For an evening without talking to my dining neighbors I felt close to the people in the room. We each had our own experience together. It was one of the best meals and experiences I had at The Ranch. And that, I can savor.

Learn more about our Mindfulness and Reflective classes or our culinary program.