Chant Mantras Over Your Meal
The Elegant Art of Vegetable Picking
I knew nothing about cooking. I grew up in the 1970’s where the main dishes in our house consisted of canned this and processed that. Later when I was in direct training with Guru ji I learned the art of cooking. Guru ji was a brain surgeon and had a PhD in Sanskrit. His name was Dr Ramamurti S. Mishra. He absolutely loved cooking and was always excited to explain the medicinal properties of various foods. He’d mutter, “Tumeric is healing to the blood, but you have to boil it first.” The list went on. I addressed him in the affectionate Indian term for respected teacher: ‘Guru ji.’ He loved cooking and was like a scientist in the kitchen. He transmitted yogic teachings as he simultaneously taught food preparation or a perfect dahl dish. He would say, “Its very important for a yogini to eat her own molecules.” I’d look at him as if to say, “Uh what?” he’d continue, “Food takes on the mind of the one cooking. A yogini must eat carefully prepared food made with a silent mind. For this you must chant mantras over your food.” He described how chanting mantras in conjunction with cooking would infuse the food with energy and love. And to this day, I follow his suggestions.
Healthy Happy Vegetables
One morning Guru ji looked at me and said, “You know nothing of picking out vegetables.” He seemed less than enthused by the notion. I felt sheepish and a little defensive after all I never knew that was an important skill to have. Upon reflection though I realized when I was in the store I generally just grabbed any vegetable or piece of fruit from its pile without paying close attention to it. He continued, “Today we will go to the store and I will teach you how to pick healthy and happy vegetables.” I recall a rush of nervous energy flow through me. Guru ji was coming with me…? Oye. But I was also excited because I’d actually learn about vegetable picking. Something I never knew was necessary to the yogic practice.
The First Skill in the Creation of Your Mantra Meal: Learn the Art of Seeing
So off we went to the local grocery store. Christina, an older student visiting from Sweden, joined us. Like Guru ji, she was a medical doctor. As always, Guru ji wore his red kurta, which created a bit of a stir for the American shopping experience. The moment we entered the store, he dashed to the produce section. A large pile of potatoes attracted his attention. Lifting one in his hand he said, “You see this one has a mark and is brown here. Its not healthy.” Christina and I nodded our heads studying the potato and working to absorb the lesson. He selected another, “look this one is smooth. There are no spots and its firm. See the vegetable. Does it look healthy? He asked. I looked at it closely and saw it in a way I never had before. I realized that in the past I’d rushed through many things in my life not just vegetable picking hmmm. In that store that day, I paused, breathed and looked at the potato and agreed with him that it looked like a healthy potato. He smiled…”Ahhh… ok now you select 10 happy potatoes…” Off I went to my task of seeing then either returning the potato to the pile or selecting one for our basket. It remains one of the sweetest memories I have of my time with Guru ji. Yes he was teaching me about vegetable picking, but he was also teaching about life. His lesson was that life is not so separate and no part of it is to be discounted. Work to develop the capacity to see what you see. If you do this as a practice, you will grow your awareness overall. Through healthy vegetable picking you can learn to leave behind unconscious living for conscious living, which is essentially the meaning of a yogic lifestyle.
5 Principles of Selecting Healthy Produce:
- See what you see. Pause and really look at the vegetable or fruit.
- If it looks tired, bruised or unhealthy don’t buy it.
- Don’t purchase fruits or vegetables that have small holes or look unwell in any way.
- Purchase fruits and vegetables that have vibrant colors and are healthy and alive looking.
- Shop organic whenever possible.
Luminous Soul ‘Healthy Vegetable Picking’ Assignment:
- This week, pause and look at the produce. See what you see really look at the vegetable or fruit. If it looks tired or browning leave it in its pile. If it looks vibrant and healthy then select that vegetable or fruit.
- Watch how building your capacity to see what you see builds your awareness in life overall.
- Write your insights in your journal.
Silent mind – The experience of Self beyond thoughts
Kurta traditional red or saffron robe swamis wear
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© 2015 Sanskrit Studies/Luminous Soul & Manorama