Mindfulness in the Kitchen – an Edible Meditation
With a busy day to juggle, the kitchen could offer a rewardingly good excuse for the practice of mindfulness – an edible meditation.
With our increasingly pressured lives, it is true that pure meditation, with no other outcome than having spent time in quiet contemplation, is a welcome antidote for hectic lives. However, it is not always easy to find or allow that time for self, that may have no tangible result. Cooking a meal or even making a cup of tea helps to keep that ‘doing, productive mind’, nicely busy and allow space for the ‘being in the moment mind’ a chance to… well… be, for the moment, able to take the lead.
Meditation and cooking have much in common, if we choose to see, and can openly receive them, in this way. Food, like the breath is both inside and out. Its vital process occurring whether we notice or not. We will make food and eat, probably several times a day, but our level of mindless distraction or mindful attention will naturally vary. As we allow ourselves time to notice and tune into our ingredients as we cook with them, we are an engaged, connected observer to a process that can otherwise become mechanical if not automatic, in the rush of daily demands. An embodied activity, with a meal to show for it, cooking offers a wholesome and unifying opportunity, with a cyclical reminder, for mindful practice.
Our meditation practice does need to be prepared for, in the ritual of routine, if it is going to either happen at all, or be helpful to our day. Kitchen meditation is also helped along with our preparation routines, our personal rituals that set this time aside for creative contemplation. Do we set the practice up by scanning the fridge and store-cupboard for decisive inspiration, or by checking through the recipe book, referring to our weekly menu plan? Planning and preparing what we will cook, enables embodied thinking, head and tummy have time to talk, setting up the intention for this productive meditation. Likewise, as we need to draw the meditation to a close, allowing this time of contemplative practice to absorb, and grow throughout the day, so as we lay our meal out ready, the sense of peaceful satisfaction liberates our creative confidence for the day.
By setting our intention for what, why and how to cook, our ego driven, doing brain is relieved of its duty to stand on guard, satisfied its work is being done. Now our inner-tutor, our digestive brain is asked to take the leading reigns, since food is of course, its specialist topic. By asking our first, ‘brain in our guts’ to mindfully lead our cooking practice, we find relaxed release from our busy ego. We find an inner peace that arises from connecting with this inner brain, the one we share with every other living thing, that will be breathing in this moment of now with us, if not the pleasure of eating this meal with us.
Our inner tutor, who we sometimes call our ‘gut instinct’, operates through ‘discerning observation’ rather than our head’s critical judgment mode. Whilst working within the broad focus of the meal being made, there is a receptive openness to the process and how it will be formed by what’s suggested or remembered as we mindfully enable our intuition to lead in our cooking practice. A look in our larder reminds us we have an ingredient yet to try. A taste of the sauce, allows us to stand back to gain perspective, so we can see what’s missing for greater depth or balance of flavour. The pan’s aroma reminds us of a sunny holiday and entices us to add an unexpected chilli into the pot. There is a fluid release of creative intuition taking place in a kitchen meditation…
Meditation, like a good meal, feeds, but more importantly flavours our day with the quiet satisfaction of spiritual sustenance. With this full tummy, quelled head and happy heart, we find a trust in managing come what may. A mindfully conscious approach to our kitchen practice, offers a cyclical return to our intuitive awareness; our inner self has the chance to breathe, to freely expand in the present moment. Cooking offers a purity of purpose, a delicious excuse to escape into the pleasures, the potential of the present, held within a process that engages us, mind body and soul. Every part of us can fully get involved with this edible task. Our creative imagination soothes our hungry, inner mind, so that we feel a relaxed unity of intention, in the comfort of our kitchen meditation.