We all eat. We take in food, water and air, and turn it into the very substance of our bodies. Yet eating is such a common everyday occurrence that we rarely think about it. We rarely think of it as a sacred act connecting us to everything else in the Universe.
And yet eating sustains us. When we take in food, we are transforming our bodies with it. Eventually every cell in our bodies and even our bones will be replaced; our food provides our bodily form. The activity of our lives is made possible through the release of energy from our food. Without food we quickly die.
Ultimately our bodies are made from the Earth. Our parents and their parents and so on, back through time, nourished themselves to stay alive. We eat food which was once alive, that once nourished itself with the bodies of other living creatures, and so on down to the microscopic organisms who ate minerals directly, transforming the inanimate. Without the Earth, we would not have this life. Without the Universe we would not be the stardust the Earth is made of.
We take in the energy of the food we eat and it colors the energy we put out to the world. The world is increasingly full of empty food, food that was grown for maximum profit rather than as a source of nourishment. Empty food robs us of our vital energy and keeps us from fulfilling our intention. We’ve all felt dull and lifeless after a bout of eating crap food, unable to move or think clearly. This is our energy being robbed. This is our life force ebbing.
Many of us realize that we are not just our physical form, not just the thoughts in our minds, not just the biochemical reactions in our brains. We are not our ideas, or memories, or even our connection with others. We realize that we are indeed empty of Self. The paradox is that this ultimate view of our true nature rests on the relative truth that we are indeed made of substance and energy, based and rooted in the Earth and in our community. When we eat we are connecting our true nature to the sublime.
So why is it that we so often forget that eating is a sacred act? Why do we mindlessly stuff ourselves with food we know is not good for us?
We eat food to comfort ourselves. We use certain foods or drinks as consolation to make us feel better about ourselves, for example after a hard day at work. We make food a reward, giving ourselves unhealthy food as a reward for eating well or exercising. And when we try (and fail) to stop this behavior cold turkey, we just make it worse by kicking ourselves for being so weak. A healthier approach is to acknowledge the underlying need for comfort, holding ourselves kindly and gently as we see our patterns.
We eat insatiably to fill a void in our lives. Buddhism describes one of the six realms of samsara as being filled with hungry ghosts. These creatures have long skinny necks, tiny mouths and enormous bellies. They live in constant hunger, unable to satisfy themselves even in the midst of plenty. When we live with poverty mentality we can get a hint of the agony they experience. We can’t get enough no matter how much we consume, because there is never enough.
We eat mindlessly out of ignorance. Our bodies tell us what we need but we don’t listen. Perhaps we feel like we need to eat what our families eat. Perhaps we used to be able to eat junk without feeling the effects. Perhaps we eat with a sense of machismo – we are rabid anti-carnivores or rabid anti-vegans. Or we feel like we cannot spend money on good food. All the while we are ignoring what our bodies are telling us and are not looking for our subconscious patterns being played out.
We eat to create a certain body image. We use food to make a better version of ourselves. Perhaps we imagine we can keep our youthful good looks forever. Or that others will see us as beautiful and healthy. We eat well, but we use what we eat to feed our ego.
In some places, decent food is simply not available. Or the money to buy decent food is not to be found. The attitude we bring to eating makes all the difference.
When we have an intention to wake up and see things as they really are, we can eat to support our intention. We can feel how food nourishes us both in body and in spirit. We can feel how we are indeed part of the Earth and humanity and the greater energies. We can see how food grown in a way that nourishes and support the Earth is beneficial to more than just the land it was grown on. Its influence spreads out in transformational ripples. Every meal we can come back to our intention and reaffirm our connection to the Earth. If we forget or fall off, that’s not a problem, we simply come back and start again.
The connection between soil and health is a spiritual one, flowing through the food we eat and our intention. May all beings find true happiness!
Tags: Food, spirituality
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