For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful…
One of the habits that was practiced at the ashram was to eat your food in silence. When you are not distracted by talking, it’s an opportunity to concentrate on what and how you are feeding your body. Along with silence, the regular times of eating three meals a day, less meat more vegetables, fruit and alternate sources of protein were followed. My body responded well to the routines and I have tried to keep them up now that I am home. I have noticed that when I don’t eat on time, my stomache lets me know. I consider that great progress for me.
Another ritual I, and others, noticed is how individuals approach the act of eating or better yet, what you do before you eat. We were all pretty curious in regards to this and asked each other at one group gathering if they had a ritual or practice they followed before they ate? Some responded that they pray over their food, some say a mantra or chant, some make a sign over the food like a blessing and others, like me, just start eating. I didn’t want to change my habits, in this regard, while I was there as I felt it wouldn’t be genuine. I was, however, curious as to those that had a ritual or prayer what did it entail?
I remember, as a kid, my dad having a prayer he said “for what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly grateful. May it nourish and strenghthen our bodies. Amen”. I know there are numerous versions of this traditional prayer on the internet. This is the version I heard as a child. It was said in a monotone voice and I never considered it to be anything more than habit that lacked any true sincerity. I think that’s the key in the having this kind of ritual. The belief behind the act. I think I understand the mechanics. It’s an opportunity to focus in, become aware that you are about to intake a substance into your body. To your body you want it to pay attention to the offering and make the most of it. Set an intention as to what to do with the resource. How best to distribute it to the various areas of the human system. I know this all happens automatically without any intervention and yet, does it make a difference if our conscious takes part in what our subconscious does? Verbal communication from the sound of your voice, brain and body has been studied in depth with remarkable connections. Since this ritual would happen at least, three times a day, it has the opportunity to be impactful to changes in habit and consumption.
Those that had a pre-consumption practice at the ashram varied. When they shared the details I was intrigued. One had a prayer they had created. It recognized the source of the food, it asked that the food help the person to use the energy in the best possible way to honor it’s sacrifice. It blessed those that had prepared the food and set the intention that the person eating the contribution would pay it forward in their actions. I like that. Someone else meditated with the food a few minutes before consuming. They manifested how it would help them, how it would serve their body, mind and spirit.
I didn’t choose a ritual to adapt while I was there. I am, though, more aware what is going into my system and my intended use of that energy. If you are like me, in the past I ate while watching TV, reading a book or text, scrolling social media, working, bathing ( yep even the tub had no boundaries). Mindless consumption of anything I put before me. I am aware of the behavior now and can see it trying to needle its way back into my efforts to change. To help me combat that I eat my breakfast and lunch in a quiet room with no distractions. I do, silently, give thanks for the nourishment. I ask my body to make the most of the offering. I am more aware of the chatter inside my head that goes on while I eat. “To do” lists for the day, things I want to explore and other distractions. I treat eating like a meditation and call back the attention to the task as I would call back my attention to my breath. The intention to help make me stronger, healthier and bring a sense of gratitude helps me to focus. Gratitude, that for me and my family, food is plentiful and available. We are privileged to choose from a wide variety and even grow much of our own vegetables if we desire.
Do you have any rituals related to food? Comment If you do as I would love to know what others think of this topic.