More than half of Winter is over. If you joined the Food Practice tribe and bought the Winter, A Turning Inward book, right about now you’re reading and practicing the Setting Of Intention.
Nothing adds meaning to an activity or an event as consciously setting an intention for what it is you want to create or get out of the circumstance. Eating and preparing food is no different.
In the book I first talked about Conscious Approach as a practice and that sets the ground work for Setting Intention. I wanted to share these two practices here with you because they are so integral to a mindful relationship to food as well as cooking for others in your life.
And for me… returning to these two simple practices helps recalibrate me when life is hectic and my mind is being pulled in countless directions. It’s during times like this that I cook less, eat less consciously and don’t tune into the needs of my body as much.
These two practices returns me to center.
Have you ever either been the person or watched a person enter a room with a sleeping baby in it? Suddenly, voices lower, they slow down upon entering, drawing closer to that babe, trying to sneak a peek at the cherubic perfection but in such a way as to not startle or disturb the baby’s slumber?
Everything about the person shifts: demeanor, volume, pace. Their attention is fully on the child and that attention informs the attitude and behavior of the person.
How you enter into communion with anything speaks volumes to how you value it. And typically when I speak about Approach, it’s about how you approach your kitchen, your meal, the table full of people that you’re going to share that meal with.
For the last few weeks we have been focusing on the external a bit more. Cooking, keeping a diary, etc. Approach is where the internal and the external meet. More than what you do, or what you eat, it’s the mindset you carry when you enter the kitchen or sit down at a table to eat.
Where is your mind at when you walk into the kitchen to find or prepare food? Where is your mind at when you sit down to eat? The Practice of Conscious Approach starts before you enter the kitchen or begin to eat. It’s a very deliberate shift in mindset as you shift in activity.
Literally, it’s you telling yourself that now you are changing gears from one activity to another. And that the activity you are about to engage (eating, cooking) is a sacred one, so you enter with that truth in mind.
How does your attitude and demeanor change when you approach something that is sacred? This is how you approach the act of cooking and feeding yourself nourishment.
Setting Intention is very similar to Conscious Approach, but different. It’s also flexible to all sorts of directions you can take. Setting intention is like a prayer, only it doesn’t have to be as formal as that.
By choosing the direction and meaning of the experience you are wanting to have, you literally point yourself in that direction. It sounds obvious, but so often we engage in daily activities out of habit and autopilot that we aren’t even registering the type of experience we are having.
This week, think about what it is you want to receive from your relationship with food. Write down a list of what you would like. Examples could be, nourishment, pleasure, connection to culture, connection to family, healing, energy, etc There are no wrong answers here. It’s really about what you want in that moment. It could be a great exercise to just dwell in this exploration for a while as well.
Once you have a list, pick something that calls to you right now. So for instance, you might be wanting to be energized for a phone call after lunch. As you go into the process of preparing a meal,or going out to buy one, set the intention,“This meal will energize me.”, it’s both prayer and choice that you are making. Over time you’ll find that this type of intention setting does a few things:
1. It will inform the types of foods or ingredients you choose to match the energetic of your intention.
2. It spiritually imbues the food you are touching and preparing with that intention. There are countless articles and studies out there that speak to how our beliefs and intentions affect the molecular structure of water and food we are interacting with.
3. It pulls you deeper into the intimate dance you are having with the food you are choosing to nourish your body. The relationship deepens as the food becomes an extension of what it is you’re seeking to provide for yourself. It’s a beautiful thing.
Sit with all this, and then come back here. Share with me how this was for you or what thoughts come up as to how this might affect your relationship with food.