Our bodies are made up of the foods we eat and the air we breathe. When we truly understand this, it becomes clear that what we eat and breathe is very important. I have also found that my state of mind affects the foods I am preparing. When I am happy and trusting that all is perfect, my culinary creations become amazing treasures that seem to nourish not just the body and mind but also the soul as well. An alchemy happens when I am glowing and flowing. Realizing this, I have made being in the kitchen a part of my spiritual practice. I call this practice Kitchen Yoga, The Most Important Ingredient… You!
In simple terms, “yoga” translates as “yoke” or “union,” meaning to fuse or unite the self with the divine. It is the state of supreme joy we feel when our body, mind and soul are in a state of integration. How one achieves this state is very personal. When in the kitchen, I do it as an extension of my yoga practice and it is at the heart of Kitchen Yoga.
As I step into my kitchen, or any kitchen, like when I step onto my yoga mat, I drop any concerns and still my mind. I use my breath, a song or a Sanskrit mantra to bring me into the present moment, into a state of joy, readying myself for the task at hand. Taking a long, slow, even breath, while focusing my attention on my heart center, always brings me to a very calm, relaxed state. Reciting a mantra or singing a song puts me further into a state of balance and harmony. I often light a candle, pick a flower from my deck garden and set it on my kitchen window sill which has become my Kitchen Puja, a place to put special, meaningful objects that brings oneself joy.
Creating a Kitchen Puja is a way of remembering our connection to the cosmic energy that flows through all of us and all of creation. Your Kitchen Puja can be small or large depending on your space. It can be on your kitchen window sill or on top of a bread box. or on a counter. It’s a place where you can put objects that are particularly meaningful to you, things that are pleasing to you or meaningful you. Your Kitchen Puja could have a picture of someone or someplace that brings you great joy. Be playful when creating your Kitchen Puja and let it express your highest self, your joyful self. Add a flower to remind you of life’s fragrant moments, a crystal that reflects your light energy, a butterfly wing you found on your walk in the forest that invokes a feeling of your own transformation, or a stone from a creek or river that brings you back to your natural self, your eternal self. Your Kitchen Puja is a living puja … it can change from day to day or whenever you feel inspired add something new and take away the old that no longer expresses who you have become.
Each time you connect with your Kitchen Puja, let it conjure up a feeling of calm and of connection to the eternal. It is a practice, so the more you practice the quicker and easier it will be for you to go into a state of pure love. This is the state you want to be in when you are in the kitchen cooking. I have found when I prepare meals in a state of pure love and joy, the food becomes an elixir of life. As your energy mixes with the life force of the food, this is the food goddess expressing herself through you and this is where the real magic is.
So simple a ritual as I have described, or one more to your liking, can transform your time in the kitchen from one of drudgery and resentment to one of joy and giving. In my own life,
I have found that connecting with the sacred gives me an appreciation for each moment and the task it brings.
So before beginning to prepare food, whether for family, friends or simply for yourself, pause for a moment and set an intention to create this meal from your heart. Now take a deep breath. As you slowly inhale, feel the gift of this life you have been given. At the top of your breath, pause for a moment and allow a feeling of joy and gratitude to flood through your entire being. Next, slowly exhale, letting go of any unnecessary thoughts, worries and fears. Now you’re ready to cook!
Create positive, life affirming habits around the preparation and serving of food!
More joy. More bliss. More love! ~ Richard Van Donk, martial artist ~