I'm finding myself in a learning predicament. I feel like the more I learn about food, the less I know. I am in a very different place than when I began this course of study back in December.
I've been doing a lot of late-night cooking this week. Posting a new recipe a day is both an amazing gift and a challenge. I've been listening to a lot of Jack Johnson lately and he has become my new cooking buddy. I cannot remember which song it is, but at the end of one of his song tracks, he talks about how surfing is all about operating in the present. I will have to find the clip and share it with you because the way he phrases it is really beautiful.
His comment about operating in the present really struck me. It seems like most of us would agree that our mainstream culture is all about not operating in the present: multi-tasking, skipping meals, and constantly adding things in our planners for the future, but losing touch with the current moment.
I know that I personally struggle with operating in the present, which was one of the reasons I challenged myself to go on a five-day silent meditation retreat back in November. At the retreat, we alternated between sitting meditation and walking meditation. From 5:30 am until 10:30 pm, we performed sitting and walking meditation, with meal breaks and occasional chores. Since there were no distractions of my daily world -- work, my cell phone, my computer, schoolwork, or chatter -- it was easy to remain fully present.
At the end of the retreat, our teacher told us that one of the ways to keep our practice going as we returned to our lives was to pick a daily habit and choose that as our meditation period. For example, every time you shower, use that as an opportunity to be fully present. Or, every time you drink tea, do nothing but drink tea and become present in your body. I never ended up doing this, and sadly, I have not meditated since the retreat... until now.
Tonight I realized I have been meditating while cooking. While cooking I am fully present. I am aware of all the colors, flavors, sounds, and smells of what I am cooking. For the last three weeks, I have made the time and space in my day to cook. It has become my practice.
This got me thinking about eating as a meditation practice and inspired me to find out more. Eating As Meditation and Eat Your Way to Enlightenment are both great resources about mindful eating meditation. This is also an interesting contrast to Mindless Eating, a book by Brian Wansink, that I read a few months ago about how unaware we are of our food and eating habits. I think a huge piece of this journey for me has been becoming present with my food; taking the time to recognize what actually tastes good and what I like eating (not simply what is most nutritious) and allowing the space for food to become a spiritual experience.