Eating as a Portal to Presence

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entelechy
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Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by entelechy » Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:44 pm

Hi everyone,

I just want to share something that I had been experiencing lately, and it'll be great if those of you who have similar experiences share them here as well.

I have incorporated conscious eating in my lifestyle. This was one of the major shifts I have undergone during the past few months. I think it is but inevitable that as my spiritual awareness developed, the more awareness flowed into the other areas of my life as well : the way I eat, the choices I make, the kind of activities I engage in, the way I do my tasks, the way I perceive money/wealth/material things, the way I treat others (and by others I mean nature, other people, animals, the environment, the planet).

I now believe that just as most of us have heavily-conditioned minds, we also have heavily-conditioned bodies. How many of us grew up being fed with junk food? How many of us were raised in a culture which fosters practices akin to 'slow suicide' like smoking, excessive eating, binge drinking? These practices led our bodies to numb its intuitive wisdom. I have come across real-life accounts proving that we had been given bodies that are completely capable of healing itself. All we need to do is allow it to do its work. Unfortunately we pollute and weigh it down with waste matters, blocking its own healing energies.

Recently I started listening to my body more. I started feeding my body in a different way. I turned eating into a spiritual practice.

This is how I prepare my meals:
I prepare my own meals in a way as if it is a sacred ritual where I commune with the Divine (and of course it is, just like any moment). I wash, slice, chop, blend, cut the ingredients with my full being. I picture all the living energy in them that is about to nourish me so I can be healthy and strong. I find this particularly relaxing :)

This is how I eat my meals:
It never ceases to amaze me how alive everything becomes when I am truly Present: I marvel at each ingredient, smelling it, paying attention to its colour, and thanking Mother Nature for such an exquisite work of art. I take a few deep breaths, close my eyes and take time to be grateful first before I tuck in. (NOTE: I have found it hard to do this if the food before me is derived from an animal, because all I could picture is the pain the animal had to go through before it reached my plate!)

When I chew my food, I chew slowly - and I chew the food well before I swallow. I let the tastes play in my mouth, paying careful attention to its texture, imagining that I am absorbing all the good energies I need that will sustain my body and keep my body free from malfunctioning and ill health. Again, this works well when I eat plant-derived meals. I once tried doing this eating a pepperoni pizza and it was so bloody hard - it just felt WRONG. I ended up losing my appetite after 3 bites.

I have been doing this practice for two months now, and a lot more opened up to me because of my increased awareness. I will write more about these experiences later, but for now I just want to find out as well if any of you here have had similar experiences, and how did it go for you?

Did you, or do you also find that your relationship with food is/has a direct cause/effect of/on your awareness?
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Re: EATING AS A PORTAL TO PRESENCE

Post by innerhike » Fri Apr 18, 2008 3:44 am

Entelechy,

What a wonderful post!

I feel that your post will inspire many who wish to live in an integrated way.

In my case I sense that certain parts of my life are not as pretty or integrated as I would like them to be.

For instance while I have been a vegetarian since my teens, and while I like to cook food from scratch, I mostly seem to pick up vegetarian meals from restaurants and health food stores.

I am reminded of two archetypes in Hinduism that perhaps explain your position and mine.

Perhaps your approach could be correlated with Shakti, which has more beauty, and where everyday life is integrated with spirituality.

I am perhaps following the Shiva approach, which is the ascetic principle, typically characterized by some rather tough looking surroundings and eating/living habits.

Many years ago when I first moved to the US from India I used to wonder if the inner state of the people serving food at restaurants and fast food chains affected the inner state and health of the consumers of that food.

But as time has gone on I have come to see that the more centered I am, the less I get affected or entangled in the energies of others, including the energies contained in the food that I am consuming.

----

I find that eating fresh salads or raw foods certainly feels more refreshing than heavier, processed foods or foods that have come out of cans or the freezer.

I also find that the less centered I am, the more I tend to eat.

I usually cook only when I am really centered and in the mood. To me it is like a work of art or poetry. Even a bit like making love.

Regardless of where and when I eat, I always try to center myself with some kind of prayer or letting go before I eat. That way I am more present and able to appreciate what I am eating.

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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by entelechy » Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:44 pm

Innerhike,

Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. I find it very interesting, indeed. You mentioned raw foods, are you into raw foods as well? I'm an aspiring raw foodist, actually. Currently, I'm about 75 to 85% raw. When I eat cooked foods it's usually during the evenings or weekends, or when I go out with friends (there are only 2 vegetarian restaurants where I live, no vegan restaurant at all, so finding a raw food restaurant here is probably going to happen at least 5 years from now!)

I'm not too familiar with Hinduism, to be honest, so can't comment on the Shakti / Shiva approaches you mentioned. However I have started reading a bit about the Ayurvedic approach to health and I find it extremely interesting. I'm reading a book called "Conscious Eating" by Gabriel Cousens MD, and I highly recommend it. So far I have learned that according to Ayurveda there are 3 types of bodily constitutions - the Kapha, the Pitta and the Vata. When Some people find they are in between two doshas or a varied combination of the three, with 1 or 2 being the dominant doshas. Depending on what you are, there are certain types of foods or environments that will balance you or will cause imbalance in your energies.

Anyway, when I went on a raw diet I have found that so much more opened up to me. Eating mainly raw foods detoxified my body, and the more toxins I released, the more I discovered about myself (the more my self-awareness increased). Problems that weren't there before (not because they were absent - they had been there all along, it's just that I wasnt aware of them!) "appeared" - and so I was given the chance to deal with them properly and openly, rather than being in denial.

I have also discovered how we as human beings have used eating as an integral part in playing out the illussions and in playing out our pain bodies. Many of us use food as a way to escape. Many of us use food, or our relationship with it, as a way to perpetuate our false identities ("I am aneroxic", or "I am bulimic", or "I am an alcoholic", etc.). Many of us use food to slow ourselves down, to provide temporary blockage of pain, as a distraction from the Truth, and even to try control other people!

I never really saw food as a portal to awareness or presence, but as I go deeper into it and explore how I relate with food, the more I discover about myself and how we could all, as a human race, realize our purpose just by changing how we relate to our bodies through food. :D
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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by heidi » Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:41 pm

I thought of this thread as I dropped two perfect eggs into the water to boil. I got the eggs from my chickens this morning. The blessing of growing your own food makes eating a spiritual experience. The gratuity factor enhances every facet of eating. Yum yum. :)
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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by Sighclone » Sat Apr 19, 2008 1:32 am

The blessing of growing your own food makes eating a spiritual experience.
Some years ago, and one wife ago, I raised sheep. And yup, we raised lambs from birth to slaughter. And yup, we slaughtered and dressed the lambs, and yup, ate and sold the meat. I was not terribly interested in Presence in those relatively lean years. But it is pretty hard to not feel responsible for managing relatively sacred, and profoundly innocent lives. Sometimes we took the lambs in our farmhouse and fed them by bottle for a couple of weeks. We tried not to give them names, and always kept a few. Their manure fertilized the alfalfa we grew to feed them. One year a turkey we raised on table scraps dressed out at 28 lbs on the table and would have won the County Fair prize, hands down. We had a large magpie massacre one morning...details will be omitted, but they were harassing our chickens and turkeys. My wife had to shoot a guard dog, a splendid, loving Great Pyrennes - she had cancer. We also shot a ram who attacked Jane. To keep the coyotes away from the stock, we left the carcasses in a field 8 miles away. Death is a part of life. We tried to honor our livestock, and I believe we succeeded, considering that they helped pay the mortgage. Our products were in constant demand, and not due to low prices. It was spiritual in a very practical way. I couldn't shoot pheasants again, though, after I watched a nye mature in the apple grove. They all had personalities...

Namaste, Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by Webwanderer » Sat Apr 19, 2008 1:34 am

I bought eggs at the store yesturday. Today my wife is cooking some up and makes the point of telling me "those eggs you bought are really fresh". Remembering this thread I say to her. "They should be, I squeezed the chickens myself!"....

Quite an image... She's still laughing as or this writing.

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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by Narz » Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:55 am

I just chow down like a wild animal, guzzling the food in as fast as possible.

Heh, well not quite to that extreme but I do have some food issues that could use work. My girlfriend is an inspiration to me however, she can eat a salad in half an hour that I would finish in eight or nine minutes. It's very hard for me to slow down and be gentle about my eating.
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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by innerhike » Tue Apr 22, 2008 4:00 am

Entelechy,

After writing my reply to your original post on this thread, I fell sick. Food poisoning! :-)

I very much agree with your insights:
Anyway, when I went on a raw diet I have found that so much more opened up to me. Eating mainly raw foods detoxified my body, and the more toxins I released, the more I discovered about myself (the more my self-awareness increased). Problems that weren't there before (not because they were absent - they had been there all along, it's just that I wasnt aware of them!) "appeared" - and so I was given the chance to deal with them properly and openly, rather than being in denial.

I have also discovered how we as human beings have used eating as an integral part in playing out the illussions and in playing out our pain bodies. Many of us use food as a way to escape. Many of us use food, or our relationship with it, as a way to perpetuate our false identities ("I am aneroxic", or "I am bulimic", or "I am an alcoholic", etc.). Many of us use food to slow ourselves down, to provide temporary blockage of pain, as a distraction from the Truth, and even to try control other people!

I never really saw food as a portal to awareness or presence, but as I go deeper into it and explore how I relate with food, the more I discover about myself and how we could all, as a human race, realize our purpose just by changing how we relate to our bodies through food.
I kept thinking about this topic and discussion over the last couple days.

I have to say the following:

Until one is stabilized in the Now
It is probably a wise thing to pay attention
To what one is feeding one's mind
And one's body

For instance, I cannot imagine partaking in excessive TV watching or junk food being good for us.

Yoga and Ayurveda from ancient India and Traditional Chinese Medicine from ancient China, and even the ancient Greek system of medicine, all of these systems focus on the use of food as medicine, as preventative medicine matter of fact. ("Let thy food be thy medicine").

I am not a raw foodist or vegan, in answer to your question, but love salads and am mostly vegan (other than the slight amount of milk I throw into my tea or cereal).

I have known people who have made nutrition into a religion and then I have known people who have made an enemy out of it.

Perhaps there is a middle path, where all this knowledge and time spent on care and feeding of the body is serving not a strengthening of the ego, but a slow letting go of it.

Best wishes to you in your journeys! Please share more if you feel like it.

----

Also I would like to suggest this well put together book for anyone interested in the issue of food and the health of nations:

http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?i ... 94201455-0

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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by entelechy » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:28 pm

Narz wrote:I just chow down like a wild animal, guzzling the food in as fast as possible.
I have observed this to be more common in men than in women. My boyfriend was like this. One evening we were sharing a bar of raw cacao bar and he had eaten more than half of the decadent bar while I was still savouring my first bitesize chunk! I observed him and it seemed that he was just swallowing it, barely even chewing the chocolate!

I asked him to try an experiment: to smell the chocolate, look at it in detail and admire it from the outside. See it as if he hadn't seen anything like it before. To put it in his mouth, let it melt on his tongue, pay attention to the different textures and tastes, and then slowly swallow. He had an a-ha moment. His eyes grew wide and exclaimed, "Wow! I never experienced food like that before!"

I find conscious eating has far more effects than this, however.

I find that when I pay attention to my food and my eating, my stomach gets satisfied a lot faster. I feel much more alive. I feel very, very light. When I am aware, eating becomes not just a physical activity but also a communion with the divine.

It's funny how I was raised, as a Catholic, to always say thanks before every meal. But as I grew older I never observed to do so. It's only now that I realize the depth of giving thanks, or saying a prayer before consuming one's meal. Now, I give thanks to the Universe before, during and after my meals. It is indeed such a blessing, to acknowledge that those plants have surrendered themselves to this purpose, joyful that they can give themselves up so that I can absorb their energies. When I look at it this way, I become more conscious just how precious my energies are, and how I could put them to good use.
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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by entelechy » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:47 pm

Innerhike,

Thanks for sharing your insights.

Yes I had been reading much about nutrition lately and I find it interesting to discover that ancient traditions have used food as medicine whereas most people nowadays use food as a distraction, an addiction, or a way of numbing ourselves out, etc. I should know - I used to eat in excess because I love food. Of course I still love food, but I dont eat in excess anymore.

I have read much of the book called "The China Study", and it revealed some startling truths about food as medicine. In gist, many independent researches, doctors, scientists, nutritionists all over the world have now gathered substantial amount of evidence that our own bodies are capable of being disease-free, and also capable of healing itself of almost any disease (all of these independent researches arrived at the same conclusion: a plant-based diet could prevent and even reverse heart disease, diabetes, and yes, even cancer). It's just that our modern way of treating diseases and our own bodies hinder our own capacities to heal and live fully.

Indeed, it affirms that we are already whole and complete. We need nothing else. We just need to allow our true nature to emerge, rather than constantly adding more and more to ourselves. But constantly adding and adding to our sense of separate "me me me" obscures the Truth from us.
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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by James » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:57 pm

Entelechy
I also agree with the gratitude and presence factor when eating, (and other everyday activities), not taking anything for granted, life is miraculous. Even to be able to be conscious and appreciate that life is a miracle, to have the capacity to love, why that is part of the miracle too.

James
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by innerhike » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:46 pm

Entelechy,

I heard on public radio today (here in the US) that doctors in training at Harvard Medical School are taking holistic cooking classes so that they can actually teach their future and current patients how to change their diets instead of just writing prescriptions.

So even the conventional medical establishment is paying ever closer attention to this whole issue.

The other thing I wanted to say is that I encounter people in health food stores and gyms who are quite healthy and health-conscious, but I wonder if they are some ways "stuck" on a particular "level" or take on enlightenment/fulfillment.

Not everyone who eats healthy is eating in a conscious way.

I feel that it is perhaps more important that we be conscious, and that once this inner vibration is stabilized our outer decisions about food, clothing, shelter, mate, etc. will all flow accordingly.

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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by Onceler » Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:26 am

Healthy eating can be another slippery ego slope...I know. I begin to feel subtley or overtly superior. I am on a healthy kick right now and feel great physically and extremely self-righteous egoically. I think I am catching most of it...but I am not sure. Amazing how a good thing can be co-opted.

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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by entelechy » Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:50 am

innerhike wrote:I heard on public radio today (here in the US) that doctors in training at Harvard Medical School are taking holistic cooking classes so that they can actually teach their future and current patients how to change their diets instead of just writing prescriptions.

So even the conventional medical establishment is paying ever closer attention to this whole issue.
I agree that a holistic / integral approach to health is a much more effective way of dealing with diseases. I think conventional medicine has its own merits, though I was never a big fan of it. It seems to me that it sometimes deals with symptoms and not the root of the problem. For example, here in the UK, I have 3 friends who went to their GPs and were diagnosed as mildly depressed. They all had to refuse taking anti-depressants, contrary to what the doctors insisted. They all viewed themselves as perfectly sane people who were fully capable of dealing with their issues if given with the right tools and enough time (and I agree). They all asked for other options and the GPs gave them none. It seemed that prescribing drugs was the only way the GPs thought they could help with that particular issue.

Another example is my Dad, who had been struggling with Angina for a couple of years now. He had undergone angioplasty FIVE times now, and had been given a whole host of drugs to take several times EVERY SINGLE DAY... but the chest pains never went away. If it ever did, it was gone for a few months only to come back again, even worse than before so they have to open him up again. He never smoked and had always exercised a lot. However my Dad's diet is relatively high on animal fats, salt, alcohol and cholesterol.

It seems to me that his doctors will just keep operating on him and keep him on drugs, even though these aren't clearly solving the problem. Not once have they suggested he may want to take a look on his diet as well.

innerhike wrote:The other thing I wanted to say is that I encounter people in health food stores and gyms who are quite healthy and health-conscious, but I wonder if they are some ways "stuck" on a particular "level" or take on enlightenment/fulfillment.
I wouldn't know, as I don't tend to analyze other people's "levels" of spiritual enlightenment. How can one tell anyway? What are these "levels" of enlightenment?
innerhike wrote:Not everyone who eats healthy is eating in a conscious way.
But of course. People do things for different reasons. Many vegetarians/ vegans choose to be so because they naturally dislike meat. Others avoid meat for religious reasons. Others do it in an effort to cut down their fat and cholesterol consumption. For others, it's a matter of healthy living. I only personally know a handful of people who choose this lifestyle for spiritual reasons.

innerhike wrote:I feel that it is perhaps more important that we be conscious, and that once this inner vibration is stabilized our outer decisions about food, clothing, shelter, mate, etc. will all flow accordingly.
I find that it doesn't matter where we start. One person could start developing her spiritual awareness through her actual day to day work/job, another may find stillness whenever they are gardening or painting or dancing; still, another may find the divine in meditation, or through physical exercise, or being in the company of loved ones.

All paths lead to God.
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Re: Eating as a Portal to Presence

Post by innerhike » Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:07 am

Excellent post Entelechy, thank you! :D

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