By Savitree Kaur
There are a number of ways to meditate, including mantra, breath, visualization and movement. Another powerful form of meditation comes in the form of food, which can be, on one hand, the toughest form of meditation, and then on the other, the most accessible. After all, we already make time to eat. How we eat may be another story.
Without going into what to eat and when, there can be an easier place to start. Here is the meditation:
Chew your food.
After placing food in your mouth, put the fork, spoon or chopstick down and turn this into an official real step in the eating process rather than stabbing the fork into the future that lies on your plate.
Stay in the very moment with the food that has so gracefully found its way from the earth along the many steps of production and transportation, with all of the hands that have participated in turning this food into sustenance for you. Take in the flavor as it hits the taste buds on the tongue and chew the food (even if it’s a smoothie) until the saliva coats every bit of it.
Then let it enter the throat and stomach. Take a moment to feel the pre-digested food travel into the stomach, and then pick up the fork, spoon or chopstick again and repeat.
“Saliva is the most nurturing, health-giving, young-making stuff.” —Yogi Bhajan, 8/13/92
When my children were young and learning to eat, I would gently put a spoonful of food into their little but wide open mouths and count as they chewed. For the purposes of teaching a child, I counted to 32, and then they swallowed.
Chewing helps to break down the food as well as to send messages to the stomach that food is coming, giving the stomach time to produce the acids and enzymes to break down the food as well as to trigger other digestive processes.
The longer the chew, the better. Saliva also contains enzymes to help break down the food. Chewing makes the digestive function of the stomach much easier, and you will appreciate the difference post meal.
“Whatever you eat, it should not sit in your stomach and then not come out. Food must clear your stomach in two hours, and your body in eighteen hours. Otherwise you are asking for a problem.” —Yogi Bhajan, Beads of Truth, 1992
This is an excellent meditation that requires one to slow down and be present with eating. Most of us shovel in food and are done before we even really have a good opportunity to enjoy the flavors bursting from it.
Chewing allows us to truly take in the flavor of the food and to help nourish the body. It is a delightful way of giving loving attention to it. It can also be the hardest thing to do, as we are in such a rush to finish eating so that we can get on to other things, or we multi-task!
Then we spend the next few hours trying to recover from it, and often even longer because undigested food wreaks havoc on the body. This doesn’t support efficiency for those so dedicated to it. This is probably the most important living meditation one can practice as we eat at least three times a day, and food has the potential to either create disease and a sluggish mind, or nourish, strengthen, and crystalize our body and mind.
"When you swallow food that is not chewed properly, it swallows your strength, your life. Then nothing is left of you. Slow eating is one of the best meditations on this Earth.
“Your power is in your mind. Your body is just a vehicle. You are not eating food, you are eating for your health, your vitality, your energy, your prosperity, your strength, your “fateh” —your power to conquer. When you eat food, it is God’s one self.” — Yogi Bhajan, 8/13/92
See also Bhoj Kriya
Savitree Kaur, E-RYT 200 and KRI certified, is co-founder of Urban Yoga Chicago, a Kundalini Yoga, meditation and wellness center in South Evanston, IL. She offers small group classes, private sessions and meditation courses for adults and children. Her strength is in helping individuals customize their meditation practice to serve their highest goals. She is also mom to two beautiful teenaged children. For more on Savitree, seeSavitreeKaur.com. For more on the work that she does, see UrbanYogaChicago.org and BlissfulAreWe.com.