There is a Farmers’ Market by my university open every Thursday. I always see the signs and people headed in that direction, but for some reason I have never bothered to take a peak for myself. Today I had an hour to kill before my lecture, so I decided to go venture into the unknown and let my nose be my guide.
The market had over 20 stalls, cooking and selling all different flavours and cultures of food and beverages galore. It seemed to go on for ever, each stall differing to the one before it, offering something unique to the mix. From fresh fish to Italian ice cream, crumbly quiches to Asian noodle dishes, homemade oven-cooked pizza to crêpes dripping with chocolate, the range was varied and exciting.
Usually I would walk to class without paying much attention to the stimuli around me, but the smells were so strong that they captivated my full attention and grounded me to the present moment. I was reminded to practice the “intentionally” aspect of Mindfulness and make the most of the experience. So I walked slowly and mindfully, from stall to stall, moving on to the next only once I felt I had captured each flavour and experience through the senses – totally and completely.
I noticed the sight of the food; the textures of the cakes, the movements of the soups as they were being stirred, the colours of the vegetables splattered amidst the noodles, the pigeons fighting for stray crumbs. I noticed the sounds; I heard people talking amongst themselves, the different accents and dialects and conversations between farmer and buyer, farmer and farmer, buyer and buyer, meat sizzling and money chinking and “mmmm delicious” interjections.
Most of all I noticed the smells around me. I could sense them so acutely I could almost taste the individual foods in my mouth. As I meandered between the stalls I observed the sweetness of a hot cross bun, the aversive stench of raw fish, the crisp freshness of raw veg, the thick heavy smell of bloody meat, and much more.
It was these smells that really got me. They were overwhelmingly grounding and so distinctive and overpowering. I observed joy, bordering on elation, as I noticed a sense of peace inside of me. The contentment I felt was a feeling I certainly am not used to. The fact that it was evoked solely by my sensory experiences of a moment I might otherwise take for granted made it feel even more real and profound.