For many (including me), winter is a time of celebration and indulgence. There are parties to attend, cozy gatherings by the fire with friends, and holidays to celebrate. December is also my birthday month; so for me, it's pretty much one long celebration from Thanksgiving through New Year's... and maybe a little bit before and after. With the celebration comes food, and often different or more food than we might normally eat.
Taking a moment in silence before eating can benefit your health and wellbeing, and it can create a loving relationship for you with your food. "Saying grace" is a beautiful practice year-round. It isn't just for people who consider themselves spiritual; it's a way to honor your body, your health and the food that nourishes you. I pray before every meal, and it looks something like this:
With eyes closed and both feet on the floor, I get mindful about my physical and energetic bodies. Am I feeling rushed in some way? Is my mind elsewhere? Deepening the breath, I settle down, settle in to the moment. I am sitting. I am here to eat. I check in with my belly - am I holding my belly's muscles? I let go and soften. The digestive system functions best when we are internally calm.
From here, I imagine/experience a spaciousness inside my belly, and I notice that it expands through the top of my head and the palms of my feet. I feel my connection to the Earth, remembering that this is where my food comes from. I sense the food on my plate and imagine each piece and what it was like before it was harvested... growing out of the Earth, hanging from a tree, grazing in a field. I offer my gratitude to the food while imagining each piece - thank you, broccoli. Thank you, quinoa. Thank you, chicken. Even something like pizza: thank you, wheat in the fields. Thank you, tomatoes on the vine. Thank you, oregano in the soil. Thank you, cow, for the cheese.
Opening more to the internal silence, I begin to sense the loving energy from the food already making its way into my body, and I feel gratitude for this gift of nourishment. I thank my body for doing its amazing job of processing the food I need to live. Thank you, body. I love you.
Opening my eyes, I see the food and let feelings of joy and gratitude flow between us while I begin to eat.
This might seem long and complicated to someone who isn't used to doing it; it actually takes just a minute, once you're in the practice of it. Your pre-meal prayer might look different from this, but the elements may be the same: settling the body and mind, and offering thanks. Not just saying the words, but letting yourself really experience the feeling of connection and gratitude (experience is key here).
In Cleve Backster's studies about biocommunication with plants, living foods and human cells, we learn that our foods (and other plants, and animals, and humans) actually feel and react to our energy. If you are feeling anxious, angry or irritated when you eat, the food will feel it, and you will ingest its fight-or-flight reactive energy (which shows up as a "scream" when the plant is connected to a polygraph chart). On the other hand, if you settle into a place of love and gratitude, your food will respond in kind, filling you with its brightest energy.
We can develop a relationship with the plants and animals that are in our lives, and also with our food. In this season of celebration, I invite you to cherish and celebrate your friends, your family, your community, and the food you are blessed to receive.
May you have what you need to live well. May your body receive the nutrients it needs in order to thrive, and may you easily release anything that is not useful. May your relationship with your food be made of love, enjoyment, and gratitude. Bon appetit!
With Blessings of Love and Peace,