We have probably all had an ecstatic eating experience at some time or other! If you have ever tried the desserts at Saké restaurant in Sydney or Burma Burma in Delhi, for example… wow! With all the different textures, sweet, sour, salty combinations, it’s hard not to be in total food bliss!
But can we experience ecstasy every time we eat?
Yes, absolutely I say! Here is a ‘happy belly, happy yogi’ six-step guide how!
1. Clear your mind of any unsettling emotions before you eat. Have you ever noticed when you are feeling frustrated, or bitter, or angry etc, and start eating, the food correspondingly tastes bitter, or sour, and feels heavy and hard to digest? And the instant we can let those emotions go, and the mind is quiet, the food suddenly tastes so much better?
2. Say a blessing before you eat. Geeti and I love saying the Sanskrit food blessing mantra, “Brahmāpanam Brahma Havir Brahmāgnau Brahmanāhutam, Brahmaiva Tena Gantavyam Brahmakarmā Samādhina, om shanti shanti shanti’.
We find it’s a wonderful way not only to honour the occasion with deep gratitude - isn’t it incredible we can eat, and eat in peace! - but also to remember who we are, beyond the mind. It’s a way of affirming everything is ‘Brahman’ - the food, the offering of it to our bodies, our agni (digestive fire), the awareness of this, etc - and we are absolutely ALL of it!.. We are the Divine or what-can’t-be-described. We’ve found this prayer is such a wonderful way of emptying the mind before filling the belly, and only gets more profound the more we practice it!
3. Reiki your food! I feel we all have healing potential which can flow through us, very powerfully through the hands (though being initiated by a reiki teacher helps greatly to attune us with this energy.) It just takes some intentionality and focus. Hold your plate or have your hands hovering over your food and imagine and feel light energy flowing through your hands into the food (covertly if you are dining out!)… even just for a few seconds.
Chanting the sanskrit prayer + reiking the food will not only help to clear any fear or anger or heaviness in the food (especially if you are eating out!), but will, in my experience, actually make the food taste even better, and bring to your eating experience a higher consciousness and vibration.
4. If you can, eat with your hands! When we pick food up in our hands, we are imbuing our energy into it, and even tasting it before it we put it into our mouths… try it for yourself, it is subtle but tangible! Feeding hand to mouth also forms a powerful mudra, enabling our healing energy imbued into the food to go straight into our mouths and travel down to our stomach! Similar in principle to chin or gyan mudra in yoga meditation, where the index finger curls to touch the thumb, keeping the meditation energy flowing back into the body and aura. This energy exchange when we use utensils is lost or dissipated. Again, I find, eating with my hands makes the food taste so much better!
5. Food mindset! Feel and know that what you’re eating is either good for you, or if it’s on the ‘naughty side’, know and trust you can digest as well as enjoy it fully! (Otherwise, don’t eat it!)
So many times I have had the experience of tummy upset / wind / bloating etc after thinking the food I was eating wasn’t so good for me, and felt absolutely fine when I have trusted the same kind of food was good for me!
I found that a keto diet, recommended by my yogic and Ayurvedic GP, supported my recovery from blastocystis parasites in India from my 2012 trip, and I was reluctant to go back to eating rice, dahl, bread, pasta etc. And every time I tried any of these carbs I would feel depleted, lethargic and bloated. One day I was at my kriya yoga teacher’s house, and I said I’m so sorry I can’t eat anything you’re offering me! The teacher channeled a message from Mahavatar Babaji, and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! You can now eat anything you like!’ I fully resonated and trusted these words, and lo and behold, after that, I could eat anything and feel great! I was so happy to be able to eat out again and enjoy India and Nepal’s delicious cuisine worry-free.
6. Being present while eating, and enjoy to the max! This is easily the most important step of course, if you follow none of the others, follow this one! Let the thinking mind not be involved in the eating process, and be a quiet witness to the chewing, the taste sensations, the swallowing. Be sure to make plenty of ‘mmm’ and ‘yum’ sounds to extract the full heart warming pleasure from the experience! And be with what’s in your mouth before diving into and considering the next mouthful!
This of course is much easier to do when you’re dining alone - which I recommend to do sometimes to build this relationship to food. When in company, just taking even a few seconds when first eating to witness the process, can make a huge difference to the enjoyment of eating. Eating can, especially with this practice I’ve found, become an instantly ecstatic experience, whether it’s vegemite on toast or mum’s deluxe Christmas trifle! You witness the brain flooded with endorphins and have the most delightful meditative experience! The food tastes way more delicious, and I’m sure the whole process of assimilation, digestion and nourishment from the food are massively enhanced!
Happy eating! Xxx
Photos courtesy of Geeti - Gyan eating paan with Sudhanshu - deep gratitude to Sudhanshu for taking us to some of the choicest dining experiences in Delhi!