Welcome to day 13 of our Cookbook for a Sacred Life virtual course!
Today our topic is Eating.
As we develop our spiritual practice and lean into the path of awakening, we begin to become more attuned to our surroundings and start to pay more attention to our everyday habits. As we do this, we may feel a pull to eat in a way that is more supportive and harmonic with our practice. Unfortunately, in many Western cultures especially, food is deeply associated with guilt, love, punishment and reward - so talking about food can get dicey pretty quickly. Instead of telling you what to eat, this section focuses on how to nourish our bodies in a mindful, and even Holy way…
At the outset of sadhana [spiritual practice], you cannot radically change your eating patterns without damage to the physical body. But what you can do is to attend to what and how you eat.
…It is apparent from the many controversies that rage concerning which foods are “good” and which are “bad,” that no single diet is universally considered desirable.
PROMPT: Ram Dass says that eating is like pouring God into God. You understand that you are Atman, and that this is the temple you are maintaining, and that the food you are. eating, and the temple, and all of form is all part of God, and this is just some sort of transformation of energy that’s going on.
How would it change your life to think of eating food as a kind of consecration?
Mindful consumption has been such a game changer for me. It feels so obvious, yet so psychologically difficult to approach.
In my practice it is the clearest example of austerities that are not austere… the more I bring God/presence/awareness into my diet, the less interested I am in eating in a way that makes my work more difficult.
Conscious eating, or 'Mindful consumption" is the weakest link in my practices…as of today though, I will begin to bring more awareness into my eating times. Blessing my food, giving attention to what I am putting into my body, being mindful of my state of mind as I am preparing it, that awareness, will greatly alter the experience for me…in a positive way. Up to this point, I have been fairly unconscious about it all.
I like the quote from today about beginning to live in “a very meditative state”. I look forward to expanding into that state.
I think it would radically change my life if I were to eat food and consider it in that manner. I am looking forward to trying it out during my meals today. I tend to eat very fast and kind of voraciously. Which makes sense because I eat when I am hungry. My grandma used to say, “no one eats with more gusto than Zac”, my grandma’s cooking was amazing! I’d just demolish my food, I think I still do! But doing what Ram Dass suggested in todays readings/audio is something that I feel I need to work on and want to try out. I think I’d enjoy my meal more if I did this, it would probably be calming, I’d enjoy the company of the friends and family I was eating with to a greater degree, I’d look at the person or people who cooked the food differently, in a more loving manner. What would happen if I offered the food to Maharajji first, meditated on God for a bit, then ate? I loved the idea Ram Dass had about thinking and meditating on God when waiting for food. How many times have I waited for food and been really hungry or impatient? And then this just flips that around, you take that waiting time and use it to think of God. I’d be more grateful and loving if I did that I think. I’d take my time during meals. I loved that part where he mentioned “eating becomes part of your liberation”. Ive never considered that thought before. To think of eating food as a kind of consecration would alter my life pretty profoundly. It sounds amazing.
Eating as consecration for me would be eating as an expression of an ancient ritual which pervades all aspects of life. On the surface it almost looks like a folding or unfolding.
Maybe we shift our idea of eating to a broader concept of consumption. This is what I think about with Maharaji’s teaching on feeding everyone. It’s not just food that we are consuming, but darshan, loving kindness, realization etc…
The mind is what is consuming and being consumed. We fold up thoughts and ideas like origami until we have the optimum amount of folds in this moment. Once we have the right folds, we unfold it inside and it becomes consumed.
We can perceive everything that happens as a form of consumption. The happening changes, and that changing creates a new happening which will again change. It’s a way of seeing this moment as process of folds. It’s like the moment is folding in on itself for us to take in the consumption.
How the folds come together can bring us joy or suffering. Sometimes people are joyful when they have the opportunity to eat or have sex. The correct folds create life. This is the consumption of creation.
Although the notion of god and atman would not be aligned with my practice, TNH spoke quite a bit about mindful eating from a spiritual, psychological, environmental perspective. I would certainly like to incorporate this more. Every aspect of our life is an opportunity to practice.
I gave it a try for breakfast. I had yogurt, oatmeal and some fruit. As I was measuring out the oatmeal, and putting my yogurt in a bowl I was repeating Ram outloud. I sat down at the table, put my bowls in front of me, and said that mantra Ram Dass suggested for today about 10 times. Offered the food to Maharajji, then started eating. I really took my time, maybe the longest time sitting down to eat breakfast in years. I noticed how often I tend to be still chewing the oatmeal or fruit, its still not even fully chewed yet, and I already have another spoonful at my lips ready. I tend to just shovel food in. I slowed that down, and made sure to fully swallow each bite and take smaller bites. I finished the oatmeal, then paused for a few minutes then started on my yogurt. At one point I started crying, crying over my breakfast is a first thats for sure! It was just such a beautiful experience. As I was eating each bite I was silently saying Ram or saying how much I loved Maharajji. Just this one meal, I realized how often I just wolf down meals, and move onto the next activity or task. And that I am not here and now as a result during meals. I can see how powerful this practice would be day to day. How a calm and mindful breakfast where I am in the now and present would set quite the tone for the rest of my day in the world, whether at work or at a store, or with friends and family. Its interesting how just that one idea, eating more mindfully and slowing down would be so insightful for me. What a profound experience!
As Zac Townsend mentioned, when the consumption of food is slowed down there is a profound sense of gratitude that comes over and sits with.
I say grace for everything but there’s something about the energy shift when I slow it all down and I’m chewing. No hand on the next bite just sitting in silence allowing the mechanics to do its thing.
This just continues to expand upon how I understand energy to move throughout our universe and respective human bodies. I read a book called Hidden Messages in Water several years ago. Whether people fully buy into the idea or not, it is fun to contemplate how our thought forms and words manifest…sometimes physically! I love how all of these concepts weave in and out of one another - where even our mindful consumption of food can contribute to our ongoing karmic predicaments. I will be more intentional about pausing and sitting in a moment of gratitude before eating. I never thought of it as a private darshan before and LOVE that idea. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.
Like pouring God into God, if you know what I mean…that put a smile on my face.
I like that Ram Dass is always quick to point out that when you are ready you will be ready and that you really have eternity to figure it out. I am someone with an eating disorder, I am afraid of food. Hearing that confirmation gives me some peace in knowing that I may not get it perfect in this life time and that is OK.
I like this idea of consecrating your meal. I usually pray, but moving forward will be mindful in the prayers and also add mantra.
I Reiki all my cooking/food preparing. It is a form of meditation for me and as the food is to share with those in my home we are all blessed with the energy that is one that is both honoring and nurturing. It is a way that I share with the children when they want to assist and learn with me.
This is a REALLY good reminder for me right now. I haven’t been consecrating my food recently, though I used to always remember to do it. I love this idea of God pouring into God. I’m going to go eat dinner right now, and I am going to bless the food as I make it and then again right before I eat it!
I love this, thank you for this reminder today. I am struggling with a coworker at work who was very mean to me last night, and today I’m feeling a bit anxious about going in and facing the situation again. I needed to hear this