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Art of the Inner Meal

The Power of Mindful Practices to Heal Our Food Cravings

In Art of the Inner Meal, former Buddhist monk Donald Altman celebrates the sacred side of eating by exploring the role of food in different religious traditions from around the world. Hindu concepts of food enhance our awareness of the cycle of life, and help us to break our own unhealthy eating habits. The Buddhist approach liberates consciousness through eating in moderation, with compassion and loving-kindness. Jewish tradition focuses on making each meal holy and wholesome. For Christians, meals are a time to strengthen community and enhance communion. Islam’s blend of peace and faith provides insight, knowledge, and experience about our inner personal meal.

Eating with awareness brings us into the moment, helping us understand what it means to be alive and connecting us to the mystery and source of all living things. Directing attention to how we choose, prepare, and eat our food can offer satisfaction and gratify more than our physical need for sustenance.

Art of the Inner Meal explores the joys of giving and receiving, the art of fasting, the reasons why the wisdom traditions recommend some foods while prohibiting others, and how awareness of what we consume can affect the environment. Many of the world’s religions value the simple act of eating as a powerful means of self-discovery and spiritual transcendence.

By understanding the spiritual meaning of food for cultures around the world and creating new rituals and traditions for our own families, we can strengthen family bonds, encourage love, and deepen our connection to the community. “Whatever your religious affiliation, background, or tradition, you have a unique opportunity to create a personalized inner meal path,” says Altman.


This delicious printed meal is a sacred banquet. Art of the Inner Meal will artfully satisfy our hunger for spiritual fulfillment.

Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within

Altman draws on a range of religious traditions in fashioning an alternative to today’s hurried, harried consumption. A useful reminder.

Kirkus Reviews

A wonderful read for anyone who struggles with food issues.

Spirit Magazine

In this short, effective book, Altman (a former Theravada Buddhist monk who is a two-time Emmy Award-winning writer) discusses the Hindu, Buddhist and Catholic monastic approaches to fasting and eating in moderation, practices he believes can lead to a heightened spiritual awareness.

He also describes the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Islamic customs for using ritual meals to enhance family and communal life. Jewish dietary restrictions, for example, elevate food and “all of life” from the realm of the ordinary to the sacred, while Sabbath dinners and Passover seders make meals “a tangible remembrance of things past.” The Japanese Zen tea ceremony, Altman writes in the book’s most interesting chapter, is a process that builds both spiritual awareness and community.

Altman provides specific and practical advice for daily application of the general principles he explains; for example, he shows how a short, moderate fast can demonstrate that hunger is a learned, yet controllable, response. His monk’s training is evident in his especially useful description of how habits influence response and limit one’s ability to change and grow spiritually.

Each chapter closes with a handy “Practice” suggestion for initiating home rituals or cultivating more mindfulness of food and hunger. This book will appeal to a wide audience of general spirituality readers as well as to those who seek more meaning in the rituals of preparing, sharing and eating food.”

Publishers Weekly

His compelling accounts make for fascinating reading.

The Oregonian