The food we consume forms an intimate relationship with our health and well-being. Besides giving us the necessary nourishment and energy for this physical body, it also adds juice to life in terms of senses pleasure.
As the human society evolves, our eating habit also changes in the course of time. For example, the influx of food choices was powered by the trend of consumerism where, as consumers we are now spoilt with choices. In a mall or food court (especially in Singapore – a foodie heaven where food is a national obsession), we can find endless list of food offered by different countries, different manufacturers, different cultures, different chefs, different restaurants and hotels etc.
To cater to the modern busy householders’ lifestyle in reducing cooking time, there is the new invention of convenient food such as fast food, processed food and pre-packed food. We forget that convenient food is not for LIFE, it is anti-life. Then there is a proliferation of advertisement and promotion by food manufacturers to constantly tease our senses, hence keeping our subconscious mind continuously pre-occupied with food as one can notice every other TV commercial or billboard is about food. Our diet has become an income source for them, no wonder they have a huge vested interest to continuously create a desire in us so that we keep consuming!
When men become driven by the sense pleasures of the mind, we become insensitive to our body intelligence. Many times even our body tells us to stop eating for e.g. oily spicy food, but our desire for spicy food over-rules the signals that our body intelligence is sending to us. We become unconscious and a slave to our senses. By and by, the wrong mental patterns of diet related disorders such as over-eating, obesity, food addiction, anorexia, bulimia and chronic diseases like diabetes, get developed which could result in a gradual self destruction.
The above is a picture we are living in at our time. It takes restful awareness for one to see the whole picture. But there’s hope because whenever there is disorder, the nature will bring about a balance. Hence, the recent movements such as going organic, self farming, going green and being vegetarian are just expressions of some conscious groups of people rising up to go against the unconscious in the food industry. We seriously need more people to become more conscious of their diet.
In my own journey, I discovered that the answers can be found in the Vedic tradition which was created by ancient Eastern masters, sages and rishis. They knew the problem that human beings would face; they gave the sacred understanding of food to humanity in a form of shruti (daily spiritual practices) which I imbibe. I would like to share them with my readers.
- Food is God – Below are the 2 sacred verses in Sanskrit within the Vedic literature which stipulate the right understanding about how we should relate with food.
“Annam brahmeti vyajanaat” – translation is “Food is Brahman or the Lord of Creation. It is from that living beings are born. It is with the help of food that living beings are nurtured and stay alive.”
“Annam na nindyat tad vratam” – translation is “Treat nourishment with great respect. Never show disrespect to nourishment. That should be the vow.”
- Get back to Agricultural Lifestyle – Wherever possible we should grow our own food in small gardens – vegetables, fruits and herbs in organic way because we should know how the raw food is grown before we consume it. In addition, being engaged with earth element – whether it is gardening or farming, helps us to develop a deep connection with Mother Earth. One will experience the sheer joy of seeing the growth process of plants and eventually enjoying the fruits of one’s labour. This may be a challenge in city life, but I hope one day I will grow my own vegetables and herbs garden.
Eat only Sattvic Vegetarian Food – Men, by its nature, are hardwired to be herbivorous. Vegetarian food is considered Sattvic in quality and hence it creates the right energy balance in our body.
- Cook Your Own Food & Consume it within 3 hours – Nothing beats cooking your own meal. Besides the physical cooking, it can be a meditation itself. When you eat out, you don’t know the chef’s mental state which could impact the energy of the food. I learnt that food cooked by healers or meditators creates a positive vibration and promotes wellbeing. Another thing is that we should consume the cooked food within 3 hrs and avoid consuming over-night leftovers as they become tamasic (dull) which cause our body to become lethargic.
- Don’t Waste Food inside Your Body – As Asians, we have been conditioned by our parents not to waste food because our ancestors suffered from scarcity of food during the world war period. Instead, over-eating has become a modern disease due to consumerism. It is better to waste food outside the body than inside because the poor body has to waste the resources to process it and any excess will be stored as unwanted fats. Food can become poison if we over indulge.
- Eat with Awareness – Quite often we are not aware of what we are eating because there will be many distractions during meal time like TV, books, newspaper, mobile devices or socializing with family or friends. Stop all distractions and just be in the present moment. Before each meal, it is good to center yourself for a minute. When you infuse awareness to eating, you can never over-eat because the body intelligence will kick in. Become aware of the presentation of the food, the aroma, chew the food slowly and savour the flavour in every taste bud and just simply enjoy the bliss of nourishing your body, mind and spirit.
- Get the Right Signal from Your Throat – From one of the sutras by Patanjali, I learnt that the right signal of hunger or thirst should come from the throat chakra, not the stomach. When you learn how to receive the right signal from the throat, you can cut down about 50% of food intake. Receiving hunger or thirst signals from stomach is pure greed. This yogic science was available at least 5,000 years ago and receiving it direct from the Source is my greatest blessing. Teaching this science to humanity can reduce many diet disorders we are facing today.
- Energise your food – When we eat out, quite often we don’t know what goes behind the food – the mood it was prepared and the quality of the ingredients. There is a food mantra from Vedic tradition which energises the normal food into divine food before we consume it. Just chant this mantra and you can change the quality of food.
Brahma arpanam, brahma havihir
Brahma agnau, brahmanaa hutam
Brahma iva tena gantavyam
Brahma karma samaadhinaa
Hari om tat sat sarvam sadguru paduka panamastu
On a final note, one of the amazing sacred secrets I received from my master is that human beings can draw energy from its pure inner space and be completely free from food and water. There are many highly evolved yogis in India who go into Jivan Samadhi (a deep meditative state) for several months without food and water, they survive purely on prana from the air and energy from within. This science was outlined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. However, for this kind of advanced yogic science, an enlightened master’s direct guidance is required.