Preparing Food With Love – An Exercise in Mindfulness
I love food. I don't mean that I love it a little, I mean I LOVE it a lot. And, over the years, I have realized how something seemingly as simple as cooking can make all the difference in a meal and in your environment.
Thinking back to when I was a young girl, I have the fondest memories of cooking with my parents, both of who were great cooks, and still are. My Mom was a great cook and baker. She made everything from home-made bread, to cookies and pies, as well as hearty salads and soups that would warm you from the inside out. There wasn't anything she couldn't do in the kitchen, and she always did it with the most organic, healthy, herbal ingredients she could get her hands on. My Dad was the expert at Italian and Armenian food. Taught by his parents who had a restaurant when he was a boy, he could make a spaghetti dish or Koofta that would make your taste buds sing.
I always wanted to help them cook, and they always let me. At an early age I began learning the techniques of cooking, for example knowing when to knead the dough, how long to let it rise, and how to be gentle so that the yeast would respond. I learned that slow cooking would enhance the flavor of a tomato sauce and that overcooking things would remove all the good enzymes.
But most valuable, was learning the importance of cooking with a particular mindset. What I mean is that when a person cooks with love, the food tastes differently than when it's prepared out of a feeling of unhappiness or resentment. I decided early on to cook when I was in a better mood, because the food carried the energy of my thinking, feeling self. Now this might sound strange, but let me explain a little further. Gregg Braden, a New York Times best selling author who is internationally renowned as a pioneer in bridging science and spirituality, discusses the now scientific fact that we all have an electro-magnetic field around our hearts. And very simply stated, what this means is that however we are feeling, whatever our emotions or state of mind, that feeling is emanated out through our hearts and into our environment. This has been able to be measured, and I'm sure that we all know the feeling of being around someone and immediately getting a sense about them.
As it relates to food as shown in the movie, Like Water for Chocolat, our emotions have a direct effect on that which we are cooking with our own hands. If I cook a pie from scratch, and I have beautiful music playing and I am happy about cooking, knowing I will get to share this pie with people I care about, then I am putting positive energy into my cooking. If I am preparing a meal but I'm in an unhappy mood and all I can think about are more things that are making me unhappy, then that is what I am putting into my meal. Have you ever wondered why when two people make the exact same recipe, it tastes different? Consider the idea that both people, though following the same recipe, were in two different emotional places when they made it.
So how can you work with this idea? Let me suggest a few things below to try the next time you are making a meal because remember that cooking is also an act of creativity.
Make sure you are in a good mood when you're cooking. Even if all you are doing is cutting up vegetables for a salad, do it from a good place, think positive thoughts, focus on something you feel good about or play your favorite music.
Create a sense of beauty while you eat. Whether you live alone or have many people in your family, you can always create a beautiful table. Instead of eating out of a to-go box, eat your food on a pretty plate, put a flower on the table, light a candle, use nice glassware. Play calming music while you eat and give a word of thanks prior to eating. Practice thinking about positive things while you eat or talking about positive things with those you are eating with. Allow your meal to be an intentional and enjoyable event.
Slow down. We are all used to eating so quickly that our bodies don't even get a chance to digest our food properly. Practice taking your time while eating.
Eat healthy, organic food whenever possible, in order to avoid any sprays or pesticides as these too have a negative affect on the body.
Avoid fast food and microwaving. By the time either of these end up in your mouth, all the enzymes and life of the food is gone. Energetically, this is nowhere near as healing as non-processed food.
Eat live food whenever possible. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is like eating sunlight when it comes to healthy eating.
Most of all, enjoy your meal. Food is one of the gifts we get to enjoy while we are here in the physical body, so use it to honor your body, choose wisely what you put into your mouth as well as how much you eat. Remember that "your stomach is the size of your fist, not a wheel barrel" as Wayne Dyer says.
Drink a lot of water. It works to cleanse the body. Remember that we are made up of 75-80% water.
Remember, how we do anything is how we do everything. This is a practice in mindfulness, and it can be applied to every area of your life. When we come from a place of intention, love and kindness, our hearts expand, and our lives become more rich and full.