Remember your childhood when your family gathered together to eat a home cooked dinner? As a kid, I loved dinnertime. I could count on an abundance of good food and conversation. This was a time we talked about our day and shared what was on our mind.
It seems that in recent years we eat on the run. Few of us actually sit down together as a family to enjoy nutritious food, lovingly prepared. At the same time, we have also lost our sacred connection to the food that sustains us.
Food has always been linked to the Divine. Eating can be a spiritual as well as physical experience. Religions across the globe teach that food is a gift from the Divine, to be treated with respect and gratitude. They recognize that food is more than fuel for the body. They believe in mindful planning, preparation, and consumption of food, as well as insisting on the necessity to show gratitude for the food and sanctify the ritual of eating with loved ones. The African American culture has a tradition of “soul food” (food cooked with love, intent, intention and a sense of history). Researchers have shown that how food is prepared affects not only the taste but also the nutritional value of the food. Thus some foods are called “mood foods” since they enhance a sense of well-being. Food prepared fresh, with love, has more vital energy than hastily prepared and processed foods. Don’t believe it? Well, see the movie “Simply Irresistible.” The movie does a delightful and entertaining job of demonstrating how the emotions of the chef were communicated through the food, to the patrons who ate the food.
Most of us are time starved. We work, shuttle kids, and have many demands on our time and energy. How do we make mealtimes special again?
Here are some simple and inexpensive suggestions for creating a “soulful meal.”
*Plan menus in advance.& Choose the freshest ingredients.
*Say a prayer or blessing before you begin. Hold your hands over the ingredients and offer thanks for them, for giving their life for you and your family. Visualize their giving, how they grew, who tended them, the harvest, and ask them to nourish you are your family.
*Prepare the meal with love and attentiveness.
*Think of cooking as alchemy; remember you are using each of the four elements as you prepare the meal.
*Earth – Raw ingredients
*Air – As you beat, stir or cut
*Water – To cook
*Fire – Heat from the stove or oven
*Add a blessing for all who will eat your food.
*Use fresh herbs when you can – remember that herbs have a myriad of healing properties. For example, rosemary is used for protection, dill for prosperity, and sage for wisdom.
*Set the table with care. This is a great place to involve the kids. Let them be creative. Add candles, flowers or any other decorations that you or the kids come up with.
*Play gentle music in the background (no TV!)
*Hold hands around the table and offer thanks for the abundance of the food and for the good things in your life.
*Eat mindfully, linger, smell the fragrances, savor the flavors, and appreciate the textures. Slowing down also helps the body catch up and creates a feeling of fullness sooner, which helps minimize overeating.
*Linger over conversation. Sit and connect with your family. One thing we do that I have really enjoyed is to ask each person to share a really good thing that happened that day.
*Clean up as a family – with mindfulness and gratitude. Add a few drops of mandarin oil in your dishwater. It will cheer the senses.
If you live alone or have the occasion to dine alone, pamper your soul and honor sacred mealtime in your own good company.
Pat Krajovic is the cofounder & director of BodyWorks Healing Center in Plymouth, MI. She enjoys practicing massage therapy, neuromuscular therapy, healing stone therapy, and myofascial release, but she is passionate about craniosacral therapy, thai massage, esoteric healing, and emotional release work. She earned a B.S. in Individual and Family Studies, and holds a Master’s in Public Admin. & Business Adm.from The Penn. State University. She is a nationally certified massage therapist with advanced training in alternative healing techniques. Pat is devoted to her five children and three grandchildren and is presently residing in Canton, MI with her husband and two youngest children. She can be reached at: 734-416-5200 or: email@example.com.