In monastic life, we’re taught to work with very simple reflections that we try to bring forth at different times. For instance, before the main meal, we say:
“Wisely reflecting, I use alms-food not for fun, not for pleasure, not for fattening, not for beautification, but only for the maintenance and nourishment of this body, for keeping it healthy, for helping with the holy life. Thinking thus, I will allay hunger without overeating, so that I may continue to live blamelessly and at ease.”
Offering this as a simple suggestion to the mind day in and day out is comparable to having a mirror that shows a monk his own attitudes to, in this case, food. Naturally, his way of relating to food will sometimes be greedy, or ungrateful, or indifferent, and so forth. But rather than blindly operating from these habitual attitudes, the monk notices them more clearly because the daily reflection encourages him to be mindful of his inner world as he partakes of the meal.
So day after day, he reflects on his inner world and then has the choice to take up the Buddha’s suggestions, which subsequently becomes a foundation for peace. It’s not rocket science. It’s more like tortoise work or earthworm work: you’re just inching along day by day, but the cumulative effect is very profound.
This reflection by Ajahn Viradhammo is from the book, The Contemplative’s Craft, (pdf) p. 73.