After several decades of study and meditation, we’ve developed a simple, philosophy answer to the deeply complicated question about our purpose on this planet: The meaning of life is to give your life meaning.
“How do I give my life meaning?” becomes the next question. You are the answer to that question; or, more precisely, what you do with your life is the answer. Everyone alive faces this same challenge and the other challenges of survival, so it seems that treating our fellow beings with kindness and compassionate is, in itself, a meaningful way to live. We are all interconnected and we all need help on our journey.
For those of us who have the desire and the means, offering tangible help and healing to others through sharing, volunteer work or a dedicated life calling is another way. However, no matter how meaningfully we live our lives, there will always be other equally natural factors of stress at work that tax our minds, our bodies and our spirits. So, meditation is key.
"The meaning of life is to give your life meaning."
What is a “meal meditation”? For most people, the word “meditation” conjures up an arcane technique that must be done with strict adherence to ancient forms and for years of daily practice before any of its promised benefits—a perfectly attuned mind and body and possibly a direct link with the ultimate reality of our being—can be derived. But being present with whatever you are doing is meditation.
Nurturing, soothing, and stabilizing yourself and others is important in times of chaos and uncertainty. Being creative gives your mind a rest from stress and makes space for nourishing your soul and communion with spirit. True meditation allows you to be present and being present while you’re cooking and eating is a very fulfilling practice. It will make you and others happy.
"The meal meditation is about connecting to your inner self, acknowledging the beauty, preciousness and sacredness of life."
The meal meditation is about connecting to your inner self, acknowledging the beauty, preciousness, and sacredness of life. It is about your deep connection to the natural world that supports and sustains your life. And it is about the need to stop, recalibrate and focus attention on the many forms of nourishment, joy, and light that cooking and eating provide.
Here are eight tips for meditating while you eat, cook and entertain:
- Use recipes that work for the season and your personality and the appetites of your guests.
- Make sure you have everything you need to prepare the meal: ingredients, equipment, utensils.
- Take a few deep breaths and begin. Treat cooking as your sole focus while you are doing it.
- Do one step and one task at a time before moving to the next one.
- Incorporate prep work, clean-up and even chanting into your cooking meditation practice.
- Focus on the task at hand. Measure and marinate. Stir and add spice. Smell the aromas. Try to do this while not focusing on problems in the outside world or worries in your mind.
- Make the table settings as special as the meal. Let your intuition and imagination guide you in color and arrangement. (Flowers can lift your spirit.)
- Wash your hands. Light a candle. Say a blessing. Sit down and enjoy each bite of your food—the textures and tastes—and your company. Inhale. Exhale. Let yourself be nourished and grateful.
Amy Zerner & Monte Farber are the authors of upcoming new book, Signs & Seasons: An Astrology Cookbook (HarperElixir, May 2017).