We know that what we are is what we eat, or do we? As we enter the regular practice of meditation our awareness of our body and are enviroment is heightened. We eat food for enjoyment,we share it in celebration and take pride and joy in how we prepare and serve our food.Long held memories of coming home from school with the scent of freshly baked bread stealing into every room. Acrid,smooth and strong the first taste of chocolate. Can you remember licking the drips from the ice cream cone off sun warmed skin?
As we become regularly meditate, awareness in all things in our life changes, including an increased sensitivity to what you put into your body – your diet.
Ask your self why do you eat?Answer: to satisfy and to nourish, to keep the body alive, to delight the senses many answers. From the yoga meditation angle we speak of being made of energy. Food provides the bodies energy (along with Prana) the fresher the food the higher the transfer of energy. Picked fresh and eaten raw the energy goes straight from the tomato or apple in to your body. Kept in cold storage or canned the energy has long leaked away.The finest part of water becomes mind and the finest part of food becomes the body, this wonderful house for the Spirit.
Why do we discuss this, why talk of diet? A greater understanding of what we eat can give us the insight to avoid the colds and flu season and keep our energy levels high. In fact it is the difference between radiant health, including a calm mind or dis-ease
Rajastic food makes one more active.
Tamasic food can make us indolent and lazy.
Sattwic food provides for a strong body/mind keeping the mind/body cleaner, sweeter, and contributing to serenity.
The Bhagavad Gita, a classical text from well before the time of Christ describes foods with a predominance of Sattwa as that which is finer and purer,e.g. sunlight.
Rajas embodies the active principle, as an active volcano.
Tamas is likened to a block of granite, solidity and resistance. We can see how our diet as meditators creates our moods and our character. How important is food and it’s preparation, and freshness? We have seen how it can be the difference between good health and dis-ease. The difference between a serene and sacred meditation or the “mad monkey mind” restless -ness and depression. Science is now making the link for mood swings and anxiety to intestinal flora and the stomach. The snack grabbed in between jobs, the extra cup of coffee to keep us awake we see is tamasic and will add to the restlessness. Unaware of the Gunas and the qualities in food, like a hamster in a cage we continue to spin.The predominating Guna is decoding universal intelligence into cells in your tongue, the cones and rods in your eyes receptors that show us the world in all its magnificent flavours colour and light,taste is sweeter, touch is lighter, we hear and experience the sounds of joy.
Sattvic food is the purest diet. It nourishes the body, quietens the mind and increases the general flow of energy between them. Sattvic foods include Fresh fruit and vegetables, pure fruit juices, full cream milk, butter,cheese and nuts,seeds herbal teas and honey.
Rajistic foods stimulate and heat the body, think of eating hot chillies, too much and you begin to perspire. Hot, bitter,sour and salty foods are stimulants and result in a restless mind, we can all recall someone who cannot drink coffee after ten in the morning or they will have a restless and fitful sleep. Chocolate can and will unsettle the body/mind in people prone to migraine headaches.
Alcohol, tobacco , pickle’s and fermented foods, including many cheeses, also meat which can ferment in the intestines, are Tamasic. Gluttony and overeating are also Tamasic. Excessive Tamas lowers the bodies energy, destroys the cells in the body and creates disturbance or a “chattering” of the mind. to digest and metabolize your food is transforming one kind of intelligence,energy to another. The fresher the food, the closer it is to source, not tinned /canned or fermented, the more energy is available to our mind and bodies.
The Hindu texts speak of three qualities, or Gunas,which exist in equilibrium.These qualities exist in all life including food. They are Sattva,Rajas,Tamas, which represent purity, the process of change and darkness respectively. These energies are present in matter, and the philosophy behind them is seen as the link between “dietry purity and purity of being’ -TheChandogyaya Upunishard from the 8th century B.C.
Ask your self are you eating fresh food, dead food or embalmed food?
Remember what you eat will be transformed into the cells, tendons and muscles of your body. The energy in a chick pea will be transformed into the cochlea in your ear so you will hear the song of the birds on rising or the melody of Mozart. Delight in the preparation and celebration that each meal brings.