Food and conscious presence
Food and conscious presence
We place our hand on the fridge door and prise it open like a safe, peruse the golden delights that gleam back at us and carefully decide what to pick and put on our plate. We repeat this process religiously, whether we are at the canteen, home or cafe – food is our favourite go-to at any time of day.
Eating, after all, is a necessity of being a human being, something that we all need to stay alive. For some though it’s more than that: a passion, career, profession or an entire way of life, being a ‘foodie’ who cultivates flavours to delight like a painter on a plate. Some food these days is even sold for more than you might spend on a car or a diamond ring, just for a small bite.
In an era where the focus is increasingly on how we look, the relationship between what we eat and our appearance has been magnified too. With increasing numbers of us seeking plastic surgery to get the body we desire, many have realised you can also use food to sculpt the perfect physique too – “hmmm… a little bit of chocolate cake? Ok, just a tad, but I’ll be back on the salad for dinner tonight to make sure I stay in shape”.
This drive to appear attractive and fit, combined with a genuine intention to ‘do the right thing’ means more than ever before; our focus is not just on eating food per se, but on eating healthily.
Gluten free, Vegan, sustainably farmed, cruelty free, slow food, organic only, ethically produced, high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, intermittent fasting, ketogenic inducing - there’s a million different takes you need to navigate on what ‘healthy’ might look like these days. Where to even begin? It seems like you need a PhD in nutrition to know what might be right for you to consume.
The internet is full to the brim with recipes and articles, each one garnished with nutritional advice and a side of taste bud delight. Take this protein powder, add this supplement, decorate with this super herb, have you had this exotic fruit? Try it and you’ll wonder how you ever lived before!
In the midst of this avalanche of health advice, there is an aspect to our diet that hasn’t got quite so much light: the actual way we eat the food.
A year or two ago I started having breakfast in my work canteen. People invariably used to stop and wow at what I had brought in from home, freshly cooked to eat – “wow so green! I wish I could eat like you! Man, you are the healthiest guy I know”. It was true I really had a love of cooking what my body liked and had developed a beautiful ritual to each part, even down to the place mat and cutlery I had specifically chosen to take into work. In a day when most of us were grateful to have clean clothes on, to have a wash and grab something quick to eat from the convenience store, I stood out.
But as I lapped up my homemade bone broth, chewed my artisan roasted vegetables and lightly seasoned fish, some stuck in my throat as I attempted to digest it down. “Is this really ‘healthy’ what I am doing here?” I looked below and noticed my phone in my hand as I picked apart the dish with my fork and had to admit that I’d been going over emails in my head about all the meetings I had coming up.
Eating, it seems, is such an everyday act we feel we can multi-task and fit other things in, in the fast paced ‘so-little-time’ world in which we currently live. Why not peruse the news or look at your social media feed?
But as I looked around the canteen that day, at everyone eating their different takes on what their body needs, so many had a screen in their face or seemed to be distracted from the task at hand. What is going on with us and the way we eat?
I decided to experiment and leave my phone in my bag and make my mealtime a dedicated space. “Oh my God, what is going on?!” … sitting there suddenly felt so awkward and hard to do. What should be a simple task (I’d been feeding myself since I was one after all) was challenging without tense, like someone had their nails scratching on a chalkboard nearby.
Hmmm … I noticed that while the phone wasn’t there, my head was still go-go-go with thoughts and concerns that came in to fill the space. I found myself at the end of the meal with everything gone from my plate but no real idea of what it was I ate.
Food is functional it is true and not the be-all and end-all that it’s sometimes painted to be, but the way I was eating it started to cause me some alarm: I’d sit hunched over my bowl, like a wolf jealously guarding a kill, in case some unidentified foe may come in and try and take it away. It may be my third meal of the day, with snacks consumed in between, but still my posture seemed to communicate “don’t you dare get in the way of my feed – this is a matter of life and death for me”.
The food itself would be demolished in seconds flat, inhaled in a few breaths, as if I hadn’t eaten for months, so I could move on with something else. The meal was done, the box ticked and this inconvenience in my day’s routine had been removed – now onto the next task, full steam ahead!
There’s a common saying that it’s good to chew your food 32 times before swallowing to aid the digestive process. I’m not sure where this number came from originally, but in my case a bean or broccoli was lucky to make it to chew 5 or 6. As with any of our personal activities, like brushing our teeth, washing our hands or how we shower, there’s no one checking like a parent to make sure we comply, it’s just down to us to choose how we will live, thus there’s a tendency to bend the rules and do our ‘own thing’ at times. And so I’d arrived at this style of unconsciously devouring a meal in seconds flat.
Despite all the healthy things I ate and my seeming abstinence from the world of sweets or savoury treats, my body kept niggling me and having difficulty digesting things. Despite my ‘healthy’ diet I often felt sore inside and exhausted and very tired.
I started to wonder one day as I sat there in the canteen, what if the way we ate, the energy we did it in and fears we let come in, and our general approach to life itself, was way more impactful than we like to think?
There was no scientific or empirical data I’d come across to prove this point, but I had an instinct suddenly that the way and quality in which we eat is the key in determining the true nutrition our body gets.
What if all of us yumming down our green vegetables and organic farm-reared meat may as well be eating takeaway chips, if we eat it in a hurry or a rush? What if all the healthy things in the world don’t actually register inside when we eat them in a push and a drive, but just pour though and come out the other side, unutilised?
What if our ability to truly digest, absorb and use the nutritional elements that are there, first depends on the energetic state we’ve placed our body in? What if it’s the quality of energy we choose that is the key ingredient in all of this?
I started to experiment with changing things, not eating slow and ponderously, but being present and feeling my body with each chew. If I thought the no phone was painful before, then this was another level of ‘eeeewwwwwwwwwgghhhh’ at first, as each mouthful seemed to last for years. But what I started to notice quite quickly too was the quality the food had been cooked in – had I been caring and connected when I made the dish? Or rushing and pushing to get things done?
It was like this flavour was suddenly tangible too. The foods started to take on a different taste, and I noticed quickly when I’d tried to skimp and used ingredients that weren’t quite at their best.
My body started to feel different as I ate and afterwards a sense of settlement and space would come, a fullness that I’d rarely felt before, like I didn’t need to eat again for quite some time. It was exactly the same amount of food I had every day, but just changing the quality in which I ate transformed everything.
"We need to develop a body that stays present with itself – this means to live a life that is lived in-sync to where the body is at – at all times."Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 92
“Feel what to eat not eat what you feel”Miranda Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 380
Read on to part 2 of this article – Why do we eat what we eat