Many people don’t realize that the simple daily act of eating can be a profound catalyst for spiritual growth, from experiencing a renewed sense of vitality to living a richer and more satisfying life. That’s because each time we eat we have the opportunity to pay attention, care for ourselves, and feed the real source of our hunger: our spirit.
I was reading recently about a restaurant in Montreal that serves food in complete darkness. This is for people to experience how a completely blind person or a person with limited vision has to adjust to life without seeing anything. It is reported that when you go to eat there, you are taken first to a very dimly lit area where you order your meal (so at least you know what to expect on your plate), then you are given a briefing about the layout of the restaurant area and then your experience begins as you are taken to a completely dark room. You are ‘shown’ your seats by waiters/waitresses who themselves are visually challenged. To cut a long story short, people who have eaten there report that as a result of not having any other sensual distractions other than taste and touch they felt a heightened sense of taste and since they were not able to see someone when they were talking or around and about they had to concentrate on hearing, conversation became powerful too. In addition, the whole experience felt like they had been spiritually nourished.
So the more we concentrate on one thing the better the results.
For centuries, people of many different cultures have referred to the “mind’s eye,” or the “inner eye,” or the “third eye.” These are all indications that there is a separate way of looking within.
Recognizing that our bodies, mind and spirits are undeniably interconnected leads to the understanding that what we do to one aspect of our greater selves will impact the others. A logical next step is to treat our bodies, including our diet, in a way that will affect the way we think and support our spiritual growth. It is said that after fasting, a person’s mind is more clear, and the extra-sensory perception more keen when the digestive system is not drawing so heavily on the energy supply. We are body, mind and spirit inexorably intertwined. What a person eats affects mood; mood affects spirituality; how one views the body is affected by mood and spiritual practice.
Mindful eating is paying attention to what and how and when you are eating something and how it is affecting you – but the reality is ……………….
How many times do you eat on the go or at the desk while working?How many times do you watch TV or multi task when having a meal?
Life is just getting faster – faster – faster – faster – faster with no signs of anyone wanting to slow down. Multi-tasking is becoming the new way of life.
How then can we ask our mind to slow down or to calm down?
Meditation (simran), as we all know has been identified by our ancestors as an antidote to the fast pace of life. It is worth examining what we mean by meditation.
Bauji, in his lekhs and talks on Simran (http://www.gurbanivichar.com/) warns us that we should be aware that we are doing ‘simran’ at all times – whether we want to or not. Simran, is what you are thinking of repeatedly at any one time. It could be about work, about a relationship, about what you did and said to someone and the list goes on. All this happens at most times without us being conscious of it. Most people believe that ‘doing simran’ is when we take the time out and try to focus our mind consciously on the word ‘waheguru’. This is absolutely true but most of us at best can do this ‘sit down’ waheguru simran for a limited period of time. Gurbani, however instructs us to do simran all the time. The only way this can be possible is if we consciously try to watch every thought and direct it or connect it to the universe. In order to follow this, one would have to focus on every action and do it with full awareness. We would have to slowwww down and not be attempting to do a multiple array of things (eating, watching TV, texting and doing an assignment).
Every action has a domino effect.
What you do affects everything else that follows.
One such action is eating. The way one eats influences everything else that one does during the day.
So if we can sit and eat quietly and enjoy each bite, aware of the presence of our environment, aware of all the hard and loving work that has gone into our food it would not only physically nourish us but also do so spiritually.
If we can look deeply into our food and take this time as a meditation — just as important as sitting or walking meditation time — we can receive the many gifts of the universe that we would not otherwise profit from if our mind is elsewhere. If we eat in a distracted manner, food merely fills us but does not satisfy.
•Mindfulness practices enhance the connection between our body, our mind and everything else that is around us.
•Eliminating mood-altering foods (white sugar, white flour and artificial ingredients makes meditation and other spiritual practices easier.
Sorry folks – this means that junk food – food that we love the most is a culprit. It is one of the things that is responsible for our distracted thoughts.
The choice of course is always ours.
God gives us freedom to make our own path.
Bauji always advocated a daily diet which consists of more fruits and vegetables – i now understand why. One time, i remember Mataji telling a sangat member about the importance of watching not only ‘what’ you eat but also ‘where’ you eat and paying attention to ‘who’ has prepared the food. Once again, finally after such a long time i have understood why she said so. We have already examined the importance of ‘what’ – the ‘where’ and ‘why’ is because there are vibrations in the food that we eat. If someone who has cooked it with love you will feel the peace after you eat it and feel satisfied (like Mom’s cooking) – often termed ‘soul food’.
Restaurant food has several people preparing it, it is frozen, mostly made by disinterested people who are often tired, fed up , in a rush. What kind of feelings can they inject into the food? Langar on the other hand is prepared with much love and seva bhavna, with padh and kirtan – it contains loving vibrations.
However, this still leaves the onus on us – how much and what we put in our body.
Nowadays even Mom’s cooking and Langar consists of ‘harmful’ products (sugar, salt, oil). I firmly believe that if we can educate ourselves we can perhaps teach others around us to be more careful about the choices we make. You can help parents make better choices too.
Why is it that even though we all know that fried foods and sugary stuff like mathiyaian, pakoras, samosas, etc are detrimental to not only our health ,our ‘surat’, our ability to do simran but they are they are the main cause behind diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure , cancer, aches and pains we still choose to cook them and feed the rest of our loved ones with them?????????????????????????
Gurbani guides us in the following manner.
ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥
O Baba, the pleasures of other foods are false.
ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥੧॥
Eating them, the body is ruined, and wickedness and corruption enter into the mind. ||1||Pause||
Finally, one thing that always come to mind from Bauji’s talks is :
EAT TO LIVE
LIVE TO EAT
At the last two Montreal samagams we read the story of Maee Subraee jee (Guru Gobind Singh Jee’s mother-in law). This story is narrated by Bhi Veer Singh Jee. It is called ‘Sat Aukhian Ratan’. It tells us about the seven difficult nights Mata Subraee Jee had to face in the face of bad news (like the death of her husband, her daughter, her grandons and Guru jee) and how she finally conquered her ‘surat’ .
It illustrates how thoughts can take you into high or low spirits and how we have to really watch them.
I would like to thank the three sevadars from Toronto who kindly typed up the story for me.
Hope you are all well.
Much Much Warm Nanak Love
Stay in High Spirits
Dhan Guru Nanak Dhan Guru Nanak Dhan Guru Nanak Dhan Guru Nanak Dhan Dhan Guru Nanak Dhan Guru Nanak Dhan Guru Nanak Dhan Guru Nanak Dhan