Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Mindful Compassionate Eating
Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things I beg of you, do not grudge me them before I die: keep falsehood and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches, grant me only my share of bread to eat, for fear that surrounded by plenty, I should fall away, "Yahweh-who is Yahweh?" or else in destitution, take to stealing and profane the name of my God.
As I read these verses this morning I can't help but ask myself the question: What would the world look like if everyone had only what they needed? Not too much, not too little? Almost as soon as I write this I think of communism. That's not my intention. I'm not talking about some government forcing us to have equal shares of food and necessities. I'm talking about what if everyone chose to live in moderation, appreciating the things they had, knowing they are a gift, and not living in excess? For sure, there would be more resources to go around. I believe there would be more peace too for oftentimes the cause of war is over the battle for resources and the dominance over resources means economic dominance. And the power of greed runs deep in the fibers of our moral makeup. Greed, if one really thinks about it, attacks our sense of morality and gets in the way of compassion and compassion is what the world really needs. Without compassion love is empty.
Sometimes it seems as an American, that there is so much food that goes to waste. You see it especially at gatherings when much is tossed out or perhaps given to guests to be taken home. Many times the fate of such is the same just a different trash receptacle when it spoils in the refrigerator because it wasn't eaten quickly enough. (Who hasn't had that happen? We unfortunately have!)
I think there's a possible solution. Of course there are probably many, but this is just one that I thought of this morning when I reflected on this issue and one that has been approached by others before me, who I will note; If we all viewed what we consumed with the spirit of mindful compassionate consumption we'd consume less, be more satisfied with what we do consume and be provoked to sharing with others who have less than us. What is mindful compassionate consumption? Hmm I kind of just made it up by stringing two very important concepts together but I did get both ideas from two very specific sources.
I got the mindful part from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk who teaches about mindful eating, among many many other things. What is mindful eating? It is simply being present in the moment while eating. When one eats oftentimes we are thinking about other things. What we have to do for the day, what we already have done, a conversation we just had, perhaps we are in a conversation on our cell phone, perusing the net, watching tv. We are doing everything other than concentrating on eating! If we centered ourselves in the moment and merely concentrated on our food, something amazing happens. We start to experience it in a whole new way! We start to taste flavors that we didn't even realize went into it, we start to feel textures we never noticed before. We start to hear sounds that happen while we eat. We start to notice the beauty of our food. Ever look at an orange? really looked at an orange? One might think I sound crazy when I say this but I sometimes feel as if I could get lost in the beauty of an orange! Try it sometime! We are there, completely there. And we can feel our bodies being nourished and we begin to appreciate it and the process that goes into eating more. I know when I eat this way I star to appreciate the blessing that truly is food. For without sustenance we'd all perish. Yet we forget that sometimes it seems.
And then we can go even further. Think about the ingredients that are in the food and where they come from. This is where the compassionate part comes in. And this is how mindfulness and compassion are linked together. Where did the food come from? Which country? Who picked it? What were their wages do you imagine? Were they treated fairly? How do their children live? I get the compassion part not only from Thich Nhat Hanh but Jesus too. He was all about compassion and love. The Bible talks about loving your neighbor as yourself and being willing to lie down your life for the life of your brother's. If we are to live this way, why do we go about buying food that is produced by the sweat, tears and blood of our global neighbors? I'll admit, I most likely do sometimes, but I'm trying to become more aware and mindful, and that's where it all starts. And urge any who read this to do the same. I do see one solution that pops out immediately-locally grown food! It has to start somewhere.
When you are mindfully eating you might also ask what is this flesh I am eating? (if you are eating animal flesh)...did it suffer? What kind of life did it live so that I could consume it? Is that the kind of life it deserved? Perhaps while eating compassionately we start to make different choices about what we eat. That seems natural.
These are just some thoughts that popped up when I read those verses from Proverbs 30 this morning. I know many of my fb friends have different beliefs/philosophies, and I respect them as I hope they respect mine. I personally think that these verses make sense and carry truth no matter what creed one follows. Life is a miracle really when you think about it and so is food because it comes from living things. It is my belief that we should be thankful for the life which surrenders itself so that we may live and ultimately thankful to the giver of all good things that provides us with it all.