Synchronous events sometimes emphasize a point in my life and this week I have been approached on the subject of food and diet by no less than three people. Nourishment for the bodymind is such a critical issue in sacred-spiritual life that you might wonder why I haven't addressed the subject already. I have no adequate answer except to say that I am inspired daily by so many pressing issues -- the need for a ritual ceremony at age twenty-one sanctioned and supported by an intelligent society to induct human beings into adulthood, the deep understanding of the spiritual teacher-aspirant relationship and how to distinguish it from the present-day manifestation of power play, and the fundamental need for parent-adults to be free of their own unresolved childhood issues in order to be equipped to support and care for the next generation -- to name but a few! It has been fun assembling the following information and guidance. I hope you find something useful here in this three-part article.
We will be discussing food and diet under the following headings:
- Everything is an Act of Love
- Orality and Your Early Life Experience
- Awareness and Sadhana
- Experimenting with Diet
- Conscious Eating
- A Moderate Diet
- How to Eat
- Negative Stimulation
- Changing Your Diet
- Idealism and Food Fadism
- Food Metaphors
- Spiritual Teachers and Inconsistency
- Living in This Present Single Eternal Moment
PART 1: Entrée
The following story is from the life of Krishna. Krishna's mother, Yashoda, has heard that her son Krishna has been eating mud:
And the Lord who had become a human child without any loss of His divine powers, now opened His rosebud mouth. She bent forward to peer more closely and felt herself whirling in space, lost in time. For inside the baby mouth was the whole universe of moving and unmoving creation, the earth and its mountains and oceans, the moon and the stars, and all the planets and regions. She was wonderstruck to see the land of Vraja and the village of Gokula, herself standing there with the child Krishna beside her with a wide-open mouth, and within that mouth another universe, and so on... and on... and on. "Oh God!" she thought. "Am I going mad or is this a dream or the magic wrought by this strange child of mine? "Krishna," she cried, clinging to His name like a drowning person to a lifeline. "Krishna." It was a despairing cry, for she felt her head whirling. Immediately, He shut His mouth, and she got back her equilibrium. In a trice, she had almost forgotten what she had seen. "Why have you been eating... ... ...?" She had stopped in mid-sentence. What a fool she was! This child carried the whole universe within Himself and she was worrying about a few grains of sand! "Krishna! O Krishna!" she whispered, snatching up her boy in her arms. "Who are You? Who are You? Who are You?" she whispered.
Everything is an Act of Love
In spiritual life everything should be done with consciousness, with awareness. As we deepen into the aware state what is real appears more and more clearly and what is false begins to fade.
Before we discuss food and diet in spiritual life, consider this. Everything that is done in consciousness -- speaking, walking, acting in service, or eating -- is an act of love. Love to yourself or love to others -- it makes no difference at all. It is simply and straightforwardly a conscious act of love.
Love and consciousness affect the way in which food is assimilated in the body and only through awareness, consciousness, and love can food and diet be said to be spiritually nutritious.
What is the role of food and diet in spiritual life?
Food is a fundamental issue in life. It is nourishment for the mind and body, entertainment for the senses, punctuation in the routine of our days, a means to social contact and ego-distraction, and the center for a ritual of social cohesiveness or conflict.
Orality and Your Early Life Experience
Food is a direct oral issue and human beings today are fixated and obsessed with orality. Taking in the world, putting things in our mouths, taste and sense sensations, filling our stomachs, sexual stimulation, emotional stimulation, addiction to experience, and attachment to worldly events and circumstances stave off our insecurity and fear of not surviving.
Your orientation to orality is dictated by your early life experience. How much, how often, whether you can have it when you want it or it will be taken away, how greedily and desperately you take it in before it's taken away -- these are the oral bases of neurosis concerning sustenance, survival, and nourishment.
Working with a Sacred Attention therapist through the seven core elements in the context of the Process of Self-Discovery and emerging through the first stage of awakening is a way to release the egoic contraction and character limitations of our attachments to orality.
Awareness and Sadhana
Spiritually we begin our examination of the role of food and diet, as ever, with awareness. Don't change anything, simply notice what you eat, how you eat -- do you taste the food? How quickly do you eat? What emotional state are you in around food, the processes of preparation and presentation, the ritual of the food table, and how do you habitually approach the whole ceremony of physical sustenance?
Spiritually the issues around food are this: does eating support your ego-self or does it support your sadhana (spiritual discipline)?
Moving through your awareness to an understanding of how different foods affect your body emotionally, sexually, energetically, mentally, and physically is a good start. Become aware of all these things as well as your digestion and elimination. Be aware of restlessness and urges and impulses and their relationship to the foods you eat. Notice how emotions play a part in choosing what food you eat as well as creating emotions in you.
Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected]
Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [...]