Sometimes it seems impossible to drum up the time and energy needed to cook a healthy meal. And what happens to dinner when mommy (or daddy) has had a long day? In our house, we usually end up ordering a less than nourishing take-out dinner. What if there was a way to embrace cooking, even on the challenging days, and actually find contentment in it? Recently someone at in my mom's group mentioned Mindful Cooking. My ears perked up! I am a big advocate of mindful eating, so why I had I not thought to bring mindfulness to the kitchen as I prepared the food? As I started to read up on it I realized I already was practicing mindful cooking in many ways.
Mindfulness in its self is the state of being aware and present in the given moment. It is in those moments, when we allow ourselves to let go of that constant babble in the mind, we can find true contentment. “Be here now.” I often repeat this mantra to yoga practitioners when I am teaching. It’s easier said than done, but those moments of mental stillness can help us slow down and appreciate what is right before us.
The kitchen is the perfect place to practice mindfulness. There are so many opportunities to keep the mind actively engaged in the here and now. By tuning in to the smell of the food, the heat of the oven, the sounds of chopping, and the sight of our creations we can learn to enjoy the experience of cooking. Instead of feeling burdened by a meal, one can actually find it therapeutic and relaxing!
Try these simple exercises in the kitchen.
*Before you get started on any of the exercises below, put all screens and electronic devices out sight. ;)
This one works well if you have a lot of prep involved in your meal. With each
ingredient whether you are chopping, seasoning, mixing, try to visuals and
acknowledge the origin of that food. Did it grow from the ground? Or in a tree?
Did it walk or swim? Breathe? When we see our food as having an existence other
than on our plate we can truly appreciate it. Take a moment to express gratitude
for the nourishment that each food will provide.
Use Your Senses:
If you are cooking something on the stove or in the oven take a few minutes to
sit quietly nearby. Experience the
fragrances, sounds, and sights of your food as it cooks. Notice the subtle
changes in the room. Notice how those changes affect your body.
If your mind starts to wander off, gently
bring it back to your cooking meal without criticism or stress. Allow yourself
to appreciate the sensations that the impending meal drums up in your body and mind.
Infuse With Love:
Have you ever noticed that a home cooked meal prepared by a
loved one just tastes better? Your mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing? Or your grandfather's apple pie? It’s almost
as if you can taste the love. Many people believe that food can take on the
energy of the person preparing it and then be passed along to those who
consume it. Next time you are cooking for your family acknowledge how each food
will nourish those you love the most in the world. If you want to take it
further, create a mantra to go along with it… “I am cooking with love.”
If you are interested in learning more about Mindful Cooking, read "The Mindful Cook: Finding Awareness, Simplicity, and Freedom in the Kitchen" by Isaac Cronin.