by Ashley Kole
After a recent stay as a volunteer at an organic farm in Bedford, Pennsylvania, I was able to consider just how easily food and meditation pair together.
There is a lot we can observe about what, why, and how we eat when and where we do.
Our bodies, individually and communally, are maintained by giving them proper nutrition. Eating a meal is a small yet important action toward our preservation.
Though a regular and vital component of our lives, the disconnect between our plate – or the wrappers we open with haste – and the soil of a farm has increased. This is due in part to the commercial production of food supplies that are made to be able to feed people living further and further away from the rural areas which are able to feed them. Adding to that, most of our American population will tend to favor reduced prices over other factors when making a decision about produce, which is reasonable when considering conflict between the cost of living and minimum wage.
While the gap between where our food originates and how it finds its way to our shopping cart is often overlooked, we can cultivate practices with food in order to invite awareness into our diets.
An example of a tool to apply for this purpose is the “orange meditation,” popularized by Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. The meditation offers its participant suggestions to engage in the experience of eating fruit with consciousness injected into all steps of its consumption.
The act of eating an orange in this experiment demands the participation of all your senses. You might begin to imagine the fields in another state which grew the citrus tree, engaging your imagination in order to envision the steps that delivered it to your hands. The truck that drove it. The grocery store shelf that displayed it. Your cashier. Your kitchen. Now, you are here: with closed eyes, you feel the skin of the fruit. How does it feel? Heavy? Cold? Hard? Digging your fingers into the peel, you open it slowly. The zest will release its bright scent for you to inhale. Taking a section of the fruit to your mouth, your tongue will salivate as you take a bite.
While I might not have had the experience of an orange meditation during my exposure to agricultural practices, I was able to have significant moments with other fruits and vegetables. (And, yes, I realize this sounds absolutely looney.) For example, being invited to share a dinner salad with the greens we had picked in the fields felt special. Not only was the quality of the fresh arugula notable, but the experience of knowing our hands had cut the leaves from the plants hours before made everything feel enriched by its connectivity.
Regardless of whether you meditate on a farm location while picking vegetables or at your local grocer, the takeaway is the same: by looking for chances to bring in mindfulness, we open up in a way to allow in small moments of wonder and, potentially, gratitude.
Food does not magically appear; however, the appreciation for how it arrives and what it provides us with can make the ordinary feel magical.
Ashley Kole is a self-declared word nerd and a voluntary herbivore. Based out of the Greater Philadelphia area, her work blends her skills a freelance writer, editor, and a Certified Yoga Teacher focusing on application of mindful movement as way to balance life with her chronic condition. See more at the Vegabetic blog or Yoga With Diabetes on Facebook.