Growing Your Food and the Art of Mindfulness

Grow What You Eat…At Least A Little

Berlin Tempelhof Gardens © gleamingnorthernskies via Creative Commons v.2.0

Berlin Tempelhof Gardens © gleamingnorthernskies via Creative Commons v.2.0

Earlier this year we planted a dwarf Washington orange tree in our yard. The entire family watched with eagerness as the fruit ripened; our toddler often stopping to test the oranges with a little tug. Three days ago they were ready. There is nothing more satisfying than eating food you have planted yourself. It became a family event, my husband announcing that the oranges were ready. He and our little one ran out to pick the fruit. We stood in quiet anticipation as he doled out wedges to each of us. It was glorious—partly because we were reaping the reward for our patience, partly because we were nourishing our bodies with the simplest, cleanest food, and partly because Washington oranges are just pure delicious goodness.

When you eat something you grew yourself there is a natural reverence for it. You savor the moment as much as the flavor, appreciating that you worked for the privilege. Most of us here in America have come to take our food for granted, often mindlessly devouring as we work, play or space out in front of the television. Rarely do we pay attention to our food at all. Even as I write this, it occurred to me that I’d been sipping mindlessly on a cup of coffee, forgetting to appreciate the complexity of flavors and aroma.

Mindfulness at Meal Time

Most of us can grow our own food to some degree, even if that means keeping a basil plant on the windowsill of your city apartment. Even if the majority of your food is store-bought, you can instill a mindfulness practice, infusing your food with light and intentions for nourishment and good health.

You can do the following with any food you eat. I especially like to do it with my water.

Hold your dominant hand, palm down, a few inches over your glass or plate and imagine pure white light flowing from the universe through your crown chakra and out your palm. You can think or say the words; “I infuse you with the light of perfect love and perfect trust”. This, I borrowed from the Druidic Craft of the Wise, but I understand it’s used in a variety of pagan circles. Although I don’t identify as pagan, the saying resonated with me. Find what resonates with you. You can simply say: “I infuse you with light and love,” or “may you nourish and heal my body, bringing perfect balance.” Infusing your food and drink with your intentions need not be lengthy or complicated. There is great benefit to us when we pause for a moment of gratitude and imaging good health is the first step in manifesting it.

Another way to practice mindfulness at meal time is to perform an exercise of the senses while eating. When you sit down to eat remove all distractions. No TV, phone, newspaper or radio. Just you, your meal, and the blissful (and sometimes scary) silence. Take your time eating, pausing to engage all your senses.

  1. What colors do you see? Are there many colors or just one? If just one, are there a variety of shades and textures?
  2. What does it smell like? Pungent or subtle? Does it smell crisp or complex? If it’s combination of ingredients, can you identify the individual aromas?
  3. What does it feel like in your mouth? Take your time chewing allowing the food to sit on your tongue. How would you describe the texture? The temperature?
  4. What does it sound like? Is it sizzling on your plate? Does it crunch in your mouth? How does it sound in your head when you chew?
  5. What does it taste like? Savory or sweet? Bitter, spicy or mild?
  6. Finally, engage your sixth sense. How does this food make you feel? Do you feel restricted, like you wanted something more? Do you feel guilt? Do you feel neutral? Does it make you feel happy? Proud? Maybe it was something you grew and you feel like you worked hard for a small moment of satisfaction. Maybe you feel appreciative.

Guerrilla Gardening

“Growing your own food is like printing your own money.” –Ron Finley

This morning I saw this incredible Ted Talk featuring a Ron Finley, a man living in South Central L.A. who decided to convert the city-owned/homeowner-maintained green space at the street into a garden for his neighborhood. At one point the city intervened, threatening arrest, but when the media stepped in common sense was realized. He is doing amazing things for his community and what’s best, is anyone can do this. I’ll let the video speak for itself. It’s short and inspiring.

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