Food as Meditation

Food as Meditation

Jerry Seinfeld once said, ‘Thank god for relationships. Without them, all we
would ever talk about is food. These days, wherever we look, we find a new
blog, book or ideology proclaiming the health benefits of a new superfood,
supplement or diet, guaranteed to give you, among other things, effortless
weight loss, boundless energy, mental clarity and eternal youth. So, of
course, you give it a try, and, voila, it works….. well, for a few weeks,
anyway. Then, unable to sustain this radical new way of eating, your back to
your old habits until…. the next fad diet promising, well, you know the same
results as the last one.

We have bought into a reductionist, cookie-cutter mentality, believing that
we can all eat the same thing and get the same results. Ayurveda, the
planet’s first nature-based medical system teaches that, although some
things are right for some people sometimes, nothing, no foods, fads or diets
are always right for everyone. This observation is based on the premise
that, each and every one of us, is completely different and totally unique.

With respect to food, the only universal truth is that we all need to eat.
Period. Beyond that, we each have various likes, dislikes, preferences
aversions and what we regard as the perfect meal. Every day, however, we
are faced with the same problem…having to choose. This dilemma brings
us to the topic of this blog...Food As Meditation.

First, let me explain a few concepts. Meditation is a tool for clarifying our
values and creating a calm and focused mind. It is a simple, yet profound practice which, eventually, transforms our perception and, ultimately, changes our behavior.

Classically, meditation is a three stage process requiring the abilities to:
1.Choose 2. Focus and 3. Sustain.

Choose - this is the most difficult step in meditation, as in order to choose to
eat certain foods, I must forgo a whole bunch of other food choices. Choice
comes from the inside. It implies taking in information from the outside,
filtering it through your individual experience and applying the parts that are
appropriate to you depending on your goals. This considered choice implies
reflection and commitment which leads to the second aspect of:

Focus. When I choose freely and willingly the foods that work for me then I
am more likely stay with these choices for a long time because it feels good
and its the right thing for me. With this as my foundation I am more likely to
stay the course and

Sustain my eating plan. Why because I am the one choosing based on
what feels right for my body. This is the ultimate meditation, someone who
takes their cues and changes their behavior based on what feels truly right
for them!

The Benefits of Sleep

The Benefits of Sleep

Sleep is one of the three pillars, that form the foundation of high level health. The other two, Proper Food, and Energy Expenditure will be discussed in further articles.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of sleep and how we can create routines to support ourselves in this area. Proper rest is essential for well being. The body utilizes sleep as an opportunity to heal and repair the damage done while we are awake.  The quantity, quality and regularity of sleep is important. Too much or too little sleep will negatively impact the quality of your daily energy.

Let’s face it most of us are sleep deprived due to the demands of modern living. Did you know that adults need 8 hours sleep nightly and that babies and teenagers need more? Inadequate sleep over a long period of time, reduces the body’s immune system and increases the inflammatory response. Oh, and let’s not forget, the constant fatigue and mental fog. The good news however, is that adequate sleep, about 8 hours nightly increases, IQ, reduces the inflammatory response, increases immunity, and makes you look and feel amazing.

In previous, articles, I said that each dosha comes with its own unique gifts and challenges. The goal of Ayurveda is to pacify and reduce the imbalances, bringing each of us closer to our healthy selves. This fundamental concept is profoundly empowering. What we do daily will either aggravate or reduce a condition.

Let’s look at how each dosha is affected.

Vata dosha tend to be light sleepers, who are sensitive to noise. They awaken easily, most often between the hours of 2-4am and have difficulty falling back to sleep. When they do its usually between 5-6am and then they tend to oversleep. They wake up tired and use coffee and energy drinks to keep them going throughout the day. Too little sleep increases the light, mobile qualities of Vata dosha. The effects can be, weaker tissues/body, an aggravated nervous system, and a lowered immunity.

Pitta types tend to be good sleepers unless they have too much on their minds and stay up late working on projects. They feel their most productive or get a second wind late into the evening and early morning. This tendency to stay up late causes them to burn out, becoming overly intense, grumpy, and possibly angry. When they do get to bed, they toss and turn, reviewing the things they haven’t done or need to do. This aggravates their already hot, light, mobile qualities.

Kapha dosha tends towards too much sleep. They have difficulty waking up and moving. If they didn’t need to get up early, they would likely sleep in until 9-10am. Upon waking, they may feel sluggish and reach for coffee to get going. Excess sleep increases their heavy, static qualities.

Creating routines conducive to sleep

  • Commit to a regular bedtime, meaning lights out between 10-11pm.
  • Wake early. Kapha by 6am. Vata and pitta by 7am.
  • Eat your dinner at least three hours before bedtime. The body does internal cleansing during sleep.
  • Disconnect from all electronic media (TV, computers, phone, iPad etc.) a few hours before bedtime.
  • Switch off the lights and burn some candles for a softer environment.
  • Burn essential oils like lavender or chamomile.
  • Drink a cup of chamomile tea or a cup of warm milk with 1/2 tsp of fresh nutmeg and honey.
  • Do Abhyanga followed by a warm bath. Pay special attention to oiling the feet and scalp.
  • Jump into bed with a good book.

Doesn’t that sound great? Sweet Dreams!

Ayurveda's Definition of Health

Ayurveda's Definition of Health

Sama dosah samagnis ca sama dhatu mala kriyah prasannamendriya manah vastha ityabhidhiyate. Sushruta Samhita 15.38

 One who is established in self, who has balanced doshas, balanced agni, properly formed dhatus, proper elimination of malas, well functioning bodily processes and whose mind, soul and senses are happy is called a healthy person. 

This quote from the Sushruta Samhita, one of the classical Ayurvedic texts summarizes the Ayurvedic model of health. The definition is both philosophical and functional in its understanding of the individual constitution.