'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general review of the week so far…
On any given month, at some point on the globe, there is a festival going on. Humans love a time to do other than work. Since the dawn of the thing we call 'society', there have been causes found for celebrating, usually in the form of a 'feast'. In those earliest times, all such "feastivals" (yes that's how the word came about, when we talk of being festive, we are talking of food) were marked by a downing of tools, a preparation of more than the usual daily menu and a lot of enjoyment of the results. Mostly they were tied in with meteorological events; equinox, solstice, general seasonal change. Along came formalised religion and the term 'holy' was applied to the festivals. Taking time from work meant we were taking a 'holy day'… (yes, a holiday).
Holy days were revered and much was offered up in thanks. Nowadays, majority folk think of 'holidays' as a right of employment, as the time to escape life, to revel in less than healthy ways, and with nary an acknowledgement of anything to do with the 'holy' - but still, nearly always, food is involved, which will be different from the daily norm.
Remembering that the food we consume is the fuel of our body, and allowing for the body being the vehicle of the soul, ought we not to give a little more thought to that consumption? Is there not room to give thanks for its provision? It doesn't have to be a showy thing. A simple closing of the eyes and saying 'thank you' to whichever level of the Higher you choose to acknowledge is all that is required. No one else has to join in, if you are in a group of doubters and scoffers. What is important is that you, the spiritual traveller, take time to say thank you for the food which is about to serve the body in which you travel.
Further, when eating, attempt to eat consciously. Each bite is not to be shovelled in and swallowed half-chewed. Try this exercise when eating alone, build on it, then make use of it even in company. Note whether, over time, there is improvement in digestion, in level of satiation, in thought process.
- Utter the small prayer, albeit internally
- Survey the plate and smell the food before lifting utensils
- Taste the food before applying further seasoning or condiments
- Fill only the front of the fork, not the whole of the tines
- Having taken the food, savour each mouthful; softer food will of course not require as much - or any - chewing, but ought still to linger upon the tongue prior to swallowing. More robust food ought to be chewed as much as possible. This is to encourage salivation and to gather full taste. It is also to slow down consumption;
- Do not place another forkful of food in mouth until it is fully clear of the previous load.
- Wherever possible, do not engage in conversation whilst eating. If there is discussion to be had, ensure the mouth is empty and do not place more food until you are fully complete of your engagement.
- Keep water on hand in case of choking or excess dryness, but as a general rule, do not consume liquid whilst taking the solid food. Ten to fifteen minutes following eating is the ideal time. (Or before, of course.)
This may all seem a little old-fashioned, or quaint. Mindfulness in one's eating, however, has long been proved to be better for digestion, overall health and for weight management. The latter is due to the slower eating and the increased chewing, both of which bring on an earlier feeling of fullness and thus portion sizes will drop naturally. … listening to the signals of our stomach is a whole other matter!