Food as a Spiritual Practice
Food as a Spiritual Practice
By the age of 10, I had learned that when one eats what other folks have prepared for you to eat, and if you comment on it with some kind of pleasure, the rewards are profound. I would have to say my brain lights up!
By age 20 I had become a knowledgeable and practicing vegetarian. Yes, you can still eat pizza, which truly combines some of my most favorite tastes into bliss.
When I got married I brought with me my three spiritual practice books: The Joy of Cooking, The Tassajara Bread Book and Tassajara Cooking. One contained all the basic things I needed to know and conversation tables and the other two were from the first Buddhist –Zen Monastery in the United States.
I also bought myself a stone mill to grind hard wheat berries and a 100 pound bag of Canadian Wheat in sealed storage containers.
When I took my Certification training in Mediation the world renown instructor said, “The best advice I can give you when mediating in a new place is eat the local food and enjoy it with outspoken pleasure.”
My mother was an okay cook, who later in life resented doing so much of the cooking for her family.
I discovered early on that I could heal many problems with food. I loved to knead bread. I made my food love and eating success into my spiritual practice.
I did cooking every day. With the skills I learned practicing with cooking, I could find pleasure in chopping wood, cleaning, and especially laundry. (Never mastered ironing)
When three of my family members were discovered to have Celiac Disease, I turned my energies into make healing foods for them. I would truly say out loud without any reservations, I am one of the leading experts on this malady and how to cook and heal with food – in the world. I gave them all my love and ignored my needs and my wants.
I have come back to ME. I am coming home to my food love and love of eating. I am working very hard at healing my whole self. I am putting my muscles and mind to work at making the most beautiful and loving food for me; that I can find pleasure and reward that sets my mind to symphony crescendo. I am grateful to be so smart and creative that my hands and heart can read my knead.
Here is the ZEN Story that inspired this practice:
A young monk was assigned to make the bread for the monastery. While he was kneading the bread he began to wonder at just what might be the perfect food for one to eat. He decided that it was the apple, which required no cooking thus would be the perfect food to eat. This monk then chose to practice this decision by eating only 1 apple a day for a whole year. He also had water but no tea.
The young monk lost a bit of weight the first few weeks of his practice, but it was not too much. He remained healthy and was able to do his work and his other practices assigned to him. At the end of the year the Master asked him what he had learned. His reply: “to enjoy one’s apple.”
The Tassajara Cooking book by Edward Espe Brown begins with this writing:
Cooking is not a mystery.
The more heart we put out
The more heart we put in.
To bring cooking alive
We give our life.
Giving our life willingly we don’t
Get put out.
Washing cutting cooking cleaning,
Exploring ways to give life to our life.
Not knowing already how and what to do,
Practice feeling it
Out of what is not known
Through the warmth and anxiety,
Not sticking to a particular way,
Insisting it is the only way
Even though it is quite good;
Open to feeling the various possibilities,
The tentative ways of giving life to our life.
To feel out our left hand, our back, our toes,
To feel out our breathing, our movements, our stance,
This is our freedom, this is our wisdom.
The mystery is that it is possible to do
What we don’t know how to do.
What practice do you do just for your own reward and pleasure? I truly do enjoy your comments and look forward to them.
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