August 5, 2015

Cooking with Intention

A client said, "I have tried to meditate while waiting for the dinner on to cook, but things could boil over, or burn, and I find it harder to concentrate." For me, meditation is a relaxed, focused state of concentration. In hypnotherapy, we call this going into trance. We go into trances all day long - getting sucked into tv or facebook, reading a good book, driving home getting lost in one's thoughts and suddenly you are there.

This activates the parasympathetic nervous system - our natural state of being, as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system, also known as fight-or-flight. When we are stressed out, blood leaves the belly (poor digestion) and the brain (poor thinking) to go into the muscles in order to run away or deal with a challenge. We don't have tigers and bears chasing us any more, but we do have bills and traffic. Even being under low grade stress can wear out the adrenals, cause poor sleep and assorted ailments.

Being able to return to the parasympathetic is crucial, as we think better, sleep better, digest better - indeed, this is when the body and mind can restore, replenish and rejuvenate itself. Meditation is the deliberate act of intentionally entering this state. It can be done with the eyes shut or open, while sitting or walking, actually at any time you choose to. This, to me, is what being mindful is all about. Thus, one can meditate at any time - from brushing your teeth to cooking in the kitchen

So, I would propose a two minute kitchen meditation. While, cooking, take a few deep breaths. Then focus on the smells of cooking, the sounds of cooking, the colors of the foods, the tastes and textures. Really be aware. I like to visualize the whole chain of people who made the meal possible - the farmer who planted the carrot, the worker who pulled it out of the earth, the trucker who brought it to the store, the market clerk who stocked it, the cashier who sold it, the person who cooked it (myself or the restaurant chef if I am dining out), the person who served it (wait person or my spouse). I feel this is a way to bless the food and really appreciate the simple task of creating a meal.

And guess what, washing the dishes can be it's own meditation too!