As the festive period rapidly approaches, one question I’ve been asking myself in the run-up to the holidays is ‘how consciously am I consuming?’…
This question clearly has two, related, but separate strands – one is about the material goods that we’re choosing and ‘consuming’, and the other is about our nourishment and how consciously we’re eating…
The former is making good headline progress on social media and the like recently, which is really positive to see. In our household, we’ve been big fans of giving ‘memorable gifts’ for a good long while – those gifts where we can build up piles of great memories together rather than piles of clutter! (I talk about this more in here in Caroling, Caroling)
In terms of mealtimes though, I know that there is still room for improvement for me, for bringing more slowing-down consciousness to my plate…
Food and festivity…
…go together like one too many mince pies and slightly larger love handles!
I’m pretty sure that one of biggest disservices that we do to ourselves in our modern times, in terms of our health and wellbeing, is to cut out the consciousness from our food consumption. And at any time of year, actually!
Eating ‘on the go’, taking a ‘working-lunch’, not waiting until we’re hungry…going for a food-fast option (processed, freezer foods utterly devoid of sustaining life-force), engaged in conversation while we eat, rushing, scrolling mindlessly while we consume equally as mindlessly, gobbling up everything off our plate, and going back for seconds before we even know whether we need anymore…
It’s as if we don’t honour the process of eating…because food is everywhere in our culture and ready at any time of the day or night.
Food seems so much more about convenience nowadays, rather than the practice of nourishing ourselves… We rarely consecrate the goal of the day to preparing our food. It’s seen as a necessity – and very much secondary in importance to the act of ‘working’ and earning money…
The yogis suggest that we ought to eat with a view to fill 3/4 of our stomach. And then to take a drink. Then wait to see if we still need more…and only then take more.
They suggest that we kill the digestive fire when we consume too much, too quickly. And no doubt we do!
Eating slowly is one way to truly increase our awareness to being fed. Eating slowly makes food so delicious as well! Tasting every morsel and savouring every flavour is so deeply satisfying.
And it starts off by becoming quiet… Quiet enough to be able to ask, ‘what am I really hungry for?’ and to be able to hear the answer. What are you really hungry for…?
Do you tap into what’s truly going to nourish you (to the very ends of your cells…)? Do you know how to nourish yourself according to the differing needs at the varying times of your monthly cycle? Does different produce talk to you at different times, or do you go for the same old, same old because it’s easier…? Because it’s a habit to buy apples each week (whether they’re in season or not…)?
What are we really hungry for?
But sometimes we’re eating when it’s not even hunger that we’re trying to fill. Sometimes we eat when we’re sad. Sometimes we’re eating when really what we need is a hug, or some connection. Or maybe we’re really just tired and need some replenishment from sleep? Ok so it’s a hunger of sorts…but not the sort that food will satisfy.
Perhaps we’re eating because we’re stressed, and it’s a control mechanism (or perhaps we abstain when we’re stressed?), or we’re bored and it’s something to do…? Or maybe what we really need is to breathe a little more deeply…? To nourish ourselves with the breath’s life force.
Are we really supporting our body with our food? Is it nourishing us? Or are we treating it like any other commodity?
Are we giving grace to the food that’s laid in front of us, or are we so blasé about it because everything is on our doorstep (or just a few hundred airmiles away?).
We want it all
Herein is why our relationship to our food mirrors our relationship to material consumption – we want it so we have it. Made hundreds of miles away? No problem – it can be with you in just the blink of an eyelid.
To quote a great – ‘We want it all. We want it all. We want it all….and we want it now!’ (You’ll have to imagine the guitar riffs…!)
By and large we’re disconnected from the raw materials and how, where and when nature provides them. It’s all just one long conveyor belt… Food-wise or material-wise.
Our energetic food
Our food is a part of our energetic lifeline. If we want to be as full and vital as we can be, practices which involve eating in accordance with the energy that we demand from our food are a good idea. If we want to live a high vibrational life, we’re going to want to ply ourselves with high vibration food stuff…
A superb piece of advice that I was once given was, ‘never eat in a bad mood’!
In the west we perceive meal times as times for connection. We put great importance on this practice (which has largely been wheedled out of modern busyness). And these are important practices! – sitting together as a family, as a connected unit.
So we chat away, catching up…seldom fully chewing, perhaps not completely savouring…and yet swallowing gallons of air as we talk and eat.
In the east, they offer meal times more in connection to their food. They’ll sit together, yet in silence. They’ll give thanks beforehand and take the opportunity to connect…but with their food, and the process of eating. And to save their energy for the digestion of the food and for its transformation into energy!*
It’s a good practice. Takes away the social element a bit though, no?! From our western perspective, that is…
Positive eating practices
Using fresh produce, local and seasonal. Cooking from scratch. Stirring in a little love as we prepare our dishes. Giving thanks. Not overfilling the stomach and squashing the capacity for the digestive juices to do their job. Slowing down and taking our time. Chewing. Tasting. Appreciating. Resting. Enjoying!
We all have to navigate which practices work for us. We say, ‘come over for supper’ – and we really mean, let’s connect while we eat and drink. We say to our children, ‘finish your plate’ (although probably not to our dinner guests!), yet who can tell anyone else when they’re full or not…?
Food is a source of so many curious customs to which we adhere. That a meal isn’t complete without a glass of wine, for instance!?
A body that is fed – truly fed: nourished – no more or less than its requirements will be in balance. Anything more will only add to those old handles…a case of empty over-love perhaps?!
*The eastern custom to eat with your hand is particularly interesting to me. Personally, I love it. It generates a more rich connection with the food that we are going to consume, and it’s not so odd if you think about it – we enjoy the smell and the noises as our food’s cooking, we enjoy the sight and we relish the taste. Why not awaken the whole raft of sense organs and touch it too? We touch our food when we prepare it, why not when we consume it…? It really does complete a superb energetic relationship with our fodder! Perhaps not around the Christmas dinner table though?!