Sacred Eating: Meal Time as a Spiritual Time
In Eastern Indian culture, eating is a spiritual experience. Truly, living is a spiritual experience and they recognize this. Native Americans always gave thanks to all the spirits of the food they ate, be it plant or animal based food. Eating was always viewed as sacred in our culture. People were grateful to the earth and all beings involved in providing the food that graced our tables.
In comes modern living and people with way too busy lives who have learned to gobble food while on the run. Smoothies to chug while racing about the house getting tasks accomplished, omelets being eaten in the car with disastrous results (Yes, I had one lady tell me a funny "omelet in the car story" and how she reserves omelets for weekend breakfasts only. I have had equally disastrous results with grated beet salad in the car. Not a good idea; beets stain everything), and far too many drive through eateries dot our landscapes making eating a mindless commodity for the run, run, run of life.
We have lost the art of mindfulness around that which feeds our each and every body cell; not to mention feeds our minds and souls.
When I was a kid (Oh no, groan... here come the stories of "barefoot to school, uphill both ways!"), I had an internal time clock. I just knew I had to be home at 5 PM for family dinner time. No watch or cell phone in my pocket to remind me; we were just very aware, on an unconscious level that we needed to scramble home at 4:55 PM. I am not certain of the consequences of a missed dinner. I never stepped over that line. Family dinner time, eating the evening meal together, was an unspoken sacred family time.
Take a moment and think about how you can slow down your daily life to incorporate peace around meals. Meals where you actually sit at the table instead of finding yourself running out the door, food in hand, to eat in your car on your way to work or some evening activity.
Sit and be still. Sit at the table with loved ones (your precious pets count here) and experience the scents, colors, flavors, and textures of your food. Food is a very sensual experience and, yet, most of us skip right over this blessing of sensuality.
When we take the time to give thanks for all it took to bring this food to our plate and relax and chew it slowly and thoroughly, we perform an amazing healing service to body, mind, and soul.
And, a bonus here, every extra chew means more flavor burst in our mouths, more food broken down for ease of digestion and absorption to feed every one of our beautiful body's cells... does all this not seem worthy of our time and attention?
When we express and experience gratitude for the food on our plates and gratitude to all who made the meal possible, a ripple of healing effects roll through our body. This literally creates healthier body cells, a healthier you through better digestion and absorption of nutrients, better sleep quality as your body is less stressed, and an all around better quality of life.
And, on a bigger level, it sends a healing ripple of positive energy out into the world. Eating peaceful meals has a powerful global effect.
Can you think of one small step you can take today to make meal time a more leisurely and sacred time in your daily life? As you contemplate change, remember that no one is perfect. I was standing at the kitchen counter, eating a "quick" snack when the thoughts for this post raced through my head. There I stood, eating and scribbling notes before those notes became lost in the recesses of my mind and the rest of my day's activities.
Bottom line: Eating is a spiritual experience: we are spiritual beings in a physical body. All of our Earthly experiences are spiritual, divine. When we treat food preparation and eating from this space, we better care for our bodies. Choosing whole foods to nourish ourselves, right down to each and every physical body cell, is a choice we can make from a space of wellness and deep nourishment of our body, mind, and spirit.
When we approach all life choices in this manner, making choices for wellness seems like the only way to go. It is pure loving kindness.
You owe it to yourself: slow down, relax, and enjoy your food. Discover eating again for the sacred experience it truly is.
Native American Gratitude Prayer
We thank Great Spirit for the resources that made this food possible;
We thank the Earth Mother for producing it, and
We thank all those who labored to bring it to us.
May the wholesomeness of the food before us, bring out the wholeness of the Spirit within us.