Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Food, a Mindful Meditation

Some of you who read my blog may realize that I am a person who does not consider myself religious, but does consider myself spiritual. I have a very eclectic spiritual practice, from many different methods. One of my favorite methods is Dharma Punk meditations. You can learn some great ones here: http://www.dharmapunx.com/htm/mp3.htm

The Buddha said "I was hesitant to teach because this spiritual awakening that I've had is so against the stream of ordinary untrained human consciousness that I doubt the many will be able to comprehend the subtle and profound path." Meaning it's not as obvious as it might seem. I like to remind myself of this, and to find new and interesting ways to meditate and to be mindful in my practice whatever that may look like. I am not at this time in my life meditating daily, but I am starting to become more aware of and make more conscious decisions around that.

One thing I have really found a beautiful practice in being mindful is a mindful meditation around food. It is really simple to do, and is to a large extent about gratitude. I don't do this every time I eat, but every time that I do it, I find myself enjoying my meals even more than when I do not. Feel free to try this yourself, I didn't make it up, but I don't know where  I got the idea. Probably one of my friends who practices daily gratitude.

I make my food mindful of what I am trying to accomplish. I choose ingredients that lead to health and well-being in my body, and if I focus on it, in my spirit. Each meal I have the opportunity to think through what I am preparing and how will it benefit myself and the others eating it, and the world around me. You may not think the food you eat can impact the world around you. I used to think this. The closest to understanding this as a child, was when my mother would say "finish that food there are starving children in china." Which never made much sense to me. But what this mindful meditation on my food teaches me, is to think of where the food came from and what kind of impact that has on the world we live in. Rather than talking about it any more, let me describe the actual act of mindfulness. Let's say I chose to eat hummus with pita and bell peppers that I did not grow the ingredients for or make myself. It can make a simple meal last longer, but it is so worth it.

I look at the pita bread and think or say out loud, "I am grateful for this pita bread." I pause and think about what it takes to make the pita bread and get it to me. I take a bite and then I continue to think, "I am grateful for Patch preparing this meal for me... I am grateful for Carlie buying this food" I pause and experience the bread I am eating fully feeling it's texture in my mouth, it's flavor on my tongue, it's nourishment as I eat. "I am grateful for the bakers who  made it" I pause and visualize the act of baking bread.  "I am grateful for the farmers who raised the ingredients ... I am grateful for the earth from which the ingredients came and the workers who built the equipment it was farmed with... I am grateful for water, without which we would not have the wheat which feeds us." I dip the pita into the hummus and think about the ingredients with which it was made and I think, "I am grateful for the workers in the store we bought this hummus from... I am grateful for the farmers who grew the sesame and garbanso beans... I am grateful for the person who prepared the hummus."

It is important to pause between bites as you think about what went into creating that bite. And before combining parts of the meal, I taste each part of the meal. Each ingredient may have come from a different place. One thing this has made me mindful of as well, is that some food travels great distances to get to us. If I shop without being mindful of where the food is coming from, it might take a large amount of fuel and time to get that food to the store's warehouse, and then to the store. The act of bringing food long distances can add polution to the world we live in. I think about that, and if I feel guilty, I let my guilt go and focus instead on how I might do things differently so that less stress and trauma go into the preparation of my food.

Doing this has helped me to become more aware of things. Where does my food come from. How is it grown? If it is grown with non GMO seeds in healthy soil with healthy water but travels around the world to get to me, is it worth it? Making healthy decisions for me, my family, and the world we live in is all about being mindful. I may not meditate on each piece of food I eat, but doing so on occasion has really helped me to become more aware. It has inspired us to grow more of our own food and be conscious of what we are putting in the earth we grow it in. Recently we have resumed planting and composting and we try to buy locally produced foods if we can. It's a great experience and when it comes time for harvest, it will be some of the best food we've eaten all year.

You may think this post is silly and it may not be up your alley, but I thought I would share for those who this speaks to. I hope it helps.

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