By Shannon Sabol, Holistic Health and Ayurveda Wellness Coach, www.gratefullifehealth.com
Someone recently asked me what the most life changing Ayurveda self-care practice was that I have incorporated over time, and although there has been many, I quickly responded with “blessing my food before I eat.” It helps me slow down, feel grounded, and step into a state of gratitude. A short and sweet blessing over my meal supports the first Pillar of Health in Ayurveda…FOOD!
Food is what nourishes your body, and is considered the very first step on your spiritual path. It is what gives you strength and energy to be your best self. Think of it this way…what you put into your body gives you the power to go out into the world and share your gifts. Food provides nutrients to your body temple, and reminds you that YES, you are sacred…you deserved to be nourished! Moving your body to a balanced state of health, raises consciousness (aka becoming more aware of who you are and how you show up in the world)! You are what you consume…literally. What you eat becomes energy, which becomes your consciousness.
Let me first acknowledge that food might be a sensitive subject for some folks. And let me just say…I see you…I hear you…I feel you. This is why I like to focus on the HOW to eat food, and support that first Pillar of Health, and your first step on your spiritual path.
HOW you eat is just as important as what you eat. How you eat affects your digestion, and according to Ayurveda, all disease orientates in the digestive system.
The HOW of eating is not really talked about in the West, but is a huge part of supporting digestion and overall health in Ayurveda. How we digest food is connected to how we can digest life.
How to SPIRITUALIZE YOUR FOOD
- Prepare your meals with ritual care and call in the Elements before cooking! Earth – feel your feet on the ground, Water – wash your hands, Fire – light a candle, Air – take a deep breath, Ether – feel the space in your kitchen.
- Be aware of your mental/emotional state when you are cooking. What you are feeling (anger, anxiety, joy, love, etc.) goes into the food you are cooking on a subtle, energetic level. Try to stay in a positive state, and infuse your food with LOVE. (This is also true, not just in preparing food, but noticing your mental/emotional state when you are eating food as well).
- Eat at consistent meals times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Your body is happier when it knows when it will be nourished.
- Eat your meals sitting down, undistracted, alone or in good company. Avoid eating while standing up, walking, or driving (anything where you are mobile).
- Bless your food 🙂 You do not need to be a religious person to bless your food. Blessing your meal can be as simple as giving thanks for the people, plants and animals involved in getting your food to your plate…or reflecting on the process of a seed turning into a plant, turning into food, turning into a meal, turning into energy, and eventually turning into consciousness!
- Ayurveda recommends eating two cupped handfuls of food at every meal. Ideally, you want to fill up your stomach two-thirds, while leaving one-third for digestion (having space allows for the churning of food, and easier digestion). Eat until satisfied, not full.
- Eat your largest meal midday. Your digestive fire (Agni) is strongest, when the sun is highest in the sky. I know this is not in alignment with our culture, where dinner is the largest meal, but give it try and see how you feel. Having a lighter dinner helps your body focus on healing and repairing, versus the body’s energy being diverted into physical digestion of food.
- Take a deep breath when you are done with your meal. This is like a mini ceremonial closing of your meal (the blessing is the beginning, and a deep breath is the end), and your body knows it is done eating.
My recommendation is to pick one suggestion off this list to try, and stick with it for a week. Maybe it is one meal a day, or one meal a week.
For me, my breakfast is my non-negotiable, undistracted meal of the day. I eat my warm, spiced, and nourishing oatmeal seated at my dining room table. I bless my meal and sit in silence (no phone, laptop, tv or other device) while I enjoy every bite. I eat before my kids get up, making sure I have the quiet time and space to make my morning feel sacred and my breakfast feel like a ceremony.
The more care, attention, love, presence, and gratitude in preparing and eating your food, the more you can enhance your spiritual life. The teaching of Ayurveda says that food is the food of the body and love is the food of the soul, consciousness. Food = LOVE.