Food as Mindfulness

It should be simple. We breathe, we drink, we eat; we live. But are we, in reality, consciously engaged in these fundamental activities? Are we aware of our relationship to them? Few of us eat, drink, breathe and move in this world with mindfulness. Only some have an awareness of the far reaching connections we share. In this overly fast-paced society, seldom does one have or take time to stop, reflect and become conscious of the myriad of extended relationships they are connected to. Food is the perfect example.

Most people eat too quickly without chewing and mechanically breaking down food into smaller pieces. Imagine it akin to swallowing a beach-ball size morsel. Instead our cells need nutrients something the size of a grain of sand. Digestive enzymes do not break down large particles of food very well. Obviously, smaller food components are easier to be utilized. Eating without consciousness overlooks this and its effects on our health. Gulping down food, not digesting it well leads us to eat more. Choosing fast foods laden with sugar and fats also causes us to eat more. When food is not digested the body tries to make up in quantity what it does not get in quality. The result is overeating and obesity.

We’re a nation of “fast food” with “All You Can Eat” buffets despite obesity being rampant and the many diseases associated with it. Death from heart disease leads all others. One begs the question, “Are we dying from lack of knowledge or something else?” For decades we have uncovered more than enough information on the causes of disease. Fascinatingly, most are related to what we eat and our environment, yet we ignore it. We go along our daily lives seemingly unconscious, as if in a dream. Slowing down and making time for eating enables us to be more appreciative of what we have and how we eat; the relationship we have to food and others. It allows us the pleasure we had as children; eating was wonderfully enjoyable. Being mindful when we eat, digestion is effortless and we receive more nutrients from our food. We need to wake up, become mindful and act on what we experientially know.

Experiential knowledge is bodily knowledge. How does food affect you? Which foods hinder or increase your mindfulness; your liveliness and energy levels. Food should enliven you not cause bloating, tiredness or disturbances. If you experience the latter, what you eat is not being digested properly and/or is simply not meant for you. Working with a health care professional well versed in enzyme nutrition can educate you to which foods are dietary stressors. Limiting these foods relieves stress creating a new sense of well being. In many cases we need to detoxify. Detoxify your body of environmental impurities accumulated over the years and you will begin to know, beyond intellect, your connection to the earth as provider, to others spiritually and to That which is the Source of Life.

Recent advances in genetics research have shown us food either turns a gene on or off. Turning a gene on or off can either prevent or lead to disease. Learn what foods keep you healthy or make you susceptible and act on that to assure a long life without disease. Making changes in your life on what you truly know is mindfulness in action.

How many of us take time to check the quality of food we purchase for its safety and nutritional value? Most take these for granted, trusting the government to be unbiased and do what is right for the public. However, politicians have allowed corporations to keep consumers in the dark about growing, harvesting and processing food. Manufacturers’ labels do not have to list all the ingredients and legislation profiting companies without regard for safety pass without much media coverage. We are exposed to thousands of chemical agents never having been fully tested for human safety and are used without adequate regulation. We are now witnessing how these chemicals affect us.

We cry out about another country’s injustices or corruption but few of us act when it is in our own backyard. How conscious can we claim to be when we ignore or explain away corruption of health issues in our own society, believing our government would never stoop so low? Dig beyond the news media and discover the truth of what passes off for “organic”. Become mindful of inconsistencies in our own society and act to rectify them. Act by purchasing locally, organically grown food. Learn how to grow your own food or find local groups of like-minded people and stake out a community-owned garden. Get your hands dirty or if you do not have time find CSA’s to support. Create or join co-ops buying in bulk to offset the costs of this recession and organic food.

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that it will only conduct border inspections on .6 percent of the food that it regulates (vegetables, fruit, seafood, grains, dairy and animal feed) at the border in 2007 – down from an already disconcerting eight percent prior to NAFTA and WTO. FDA data makes clear that Americans are three times more likely to be exposed to dangerous pesticide residues on imported foods than on domestic foods. Only 11 percent of beef, pork and chicken imported so far in 2007 have been inspected at the border by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). (1) (Italics mine)

“As of September, 2007 it was shown that 98.7 percent of imported food was never inspected by the FDA or USDA, the two agencies tasked with protecting Americans from tainted products.” (2)

As a person genuinely conscientious about food in this country, you cannot sit in silence while corporations poison the planet. Think on this: the same chemical corporations that produce pesticides which are known to cause disease also have a pharmaceutical branch selling synthetic drugs to “treat” the disease created in the first place. (3, 4)

We live on this beautiful planet which was once filled with pure air, water and food. The beauty is still to be experienced but we have become too complacent and allowed the contamination of pristine land and waterways. We ignored the laws of nature thinking we were not vulnerable. Being mindful would have prevented the dramatic challenges we face today. Our health and even existence is called into question from greed and lack of being conscious of the many relationships we have to all beings and the laws of nature. Being conscious implies much more than sitting in contemplation or going to services. It means having a genuine knowledge and appreciation of all that touches us through relationships and those connections we might not consider, living in this land of plenty.

In his books, Ekhart Tolle calls for a transformation of consciousness. He points to humanity’s dysfunction. “Another aspect of the collective dysfunction of the human mind is the unprecedented violence that humans are inflicting on other life-forms and the planet itself-the destruction of oxygen producing forests and other plant and animal life…poisoning of rivers, oceans and air. Driven by greed, ignorant of their connectedness to the whole, humans persist in behavior that, if continued unchecked, can only result in their own destruction.” (5)

Let us change the path we are heading down. Being mindful is more than the experience of our own little world. It entails much more than that. Begin with something simple: food. Awaken to your obsession or dissatisfactions with food. Discover why you do this. Learn which foods empower you and which ones lower your energy. See the connections you have in purchasing A instead of B and the effect it has on others you may never meet. Gather with those you love or friends and share meals. Become mindful and expand it out into the world so it can rebirth into the beautiful world it was before we altered it through our lack of consciousness.

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