Meditation & Food
by Marcus Antebi
Article at a Glance:
I recommend that people start their practices of meditation with the intent of getting a better grasp on their diets and their eating habits. Having peaceful, relaxing meal times should become a high priority as you progress on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
There are a number of barriers to understanding that meditation should be the very first step on the path to achieving good mental and physical health and wellness.
A person completely consumed by an addiction can’t understand that concept. This is the case because a personality trait in those prone to addiction is obsessive thinking, and practicing meditation while in the process of obsessive and/or restless thinking is twice as hard as meditating when our minds are still.
It’s difficult to sit still, be quiet, and stop the mind from wandering. Most of us are so unfamiliar with having a settled mind that we’re not even sure of what we’re trying to achieve. This is a big barrier, especially for those who are by nature deep thinkers.
People who do not believe in spiritual life or religious practices have a somewhat different barrier. Such people may perceive meditation to be solely a spiritual training mechanism. But that’s not a problem for those who see meditation as solely an intellectual practice during which they quiet the mind in order to unfold different layers of thought processes. They then release their memories and difficult feelings and deal with them on an intellectual level to facilitate their own healing.
At this point it’s necessary to briefly discuss the concept of seeing things as either “spiritual” or “unspiritual.” Many ancient people understood the nature of reality as being spiritual by definition. Regarding every activity in life as being a spiritual practice, they did not see a need to define things as being either spiritual or unspiritual, as many feel the need to do today.
Yet getting rid of the dichotomy between “spiritual” and “unspiritual” doesn’t mean that there’s no such thing as good and evil. Harming others is antithetical to life. I make a judgment about that, as do all people who recognize bad behavior and harmful practices. I judge being healthy as being good and I judge pain as not being good. I program myself to avoid the bad and move toward the good.
So I act on that judgment by pursuing a healthy lifestyle (good) and avoiding pain (not good). This is of utmost importance to me when I make decisions about what I eat and what I avoid eating. For that reason, I recommend that people start their practices of meditation with the intent of getting a better grasp on their diets and their eating habits.
If preparing your meal entails opening lots of delivered packages, be mindful of it and stay present for the practice of opening those packages. Then, try to make your dining experience personal. Find a comfortable place to eat, maybe even light a candle. I recommend that when you eat food that you separate yourself from particular stressful stimulation.
In fact, I recommend separating yourself from stimulation of any kind. Turn off the TV, close the book, and put down your phone. If you struggle with too much silence, you might instead play very peaceful music with positive lyrics while you eat. If you prefer to have the TV on, try to find a program or app that will show peaceful scenes of waterfalls, forests and oceans.
Having peaceful, relaxing meal times should become a high priority as you progress on your journey to a healthier lifestyle. But take this mindset and associated actions one step further: Meditate while you do other day-to-day activities. Bring that same effort into everything you do. When you’re riding your bicycle, say a blessing to yourself and consider it part of your spiritual practice, and try to remain mindful, present, and safe as you ride. Observe where your mind goes as you meditate while folding your laundry, cleaning your kitchen, washing your car, or raking leaves in your yard.
The goal of anyone who meditates is to be in an almost constant state of peace and tranquility as they go through life. The good news is that anyone who wants to can achieve that. And a great place to start is by meditating as you prepare and eat your meals.