• Acharya Shunya

Ayurveda: Food for the Soul


An Excerpt from Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom

In Ayurveda, certain disciplines are recommended to ultimately bring us greater health of body, mind and soul. The Sanskrit word for disciplines we mindfully and voluntarily take on to reach a certain goal is Sadhana. In Ayurvedic food sadhana, we embrace the timeless wisdom of the Ayurveda sages.

Here are a few of their teachings you can start to incorporate into your life for greater wellbeing at all three levels:

Eat Fresh Foods, Not Stale

Stale foods have a mind-disturbing quality. They induce tamas, a quality of the mind that is connected with negative vibrations. Heaviness, dullness, and even sadness and depression are found to manifest in the mind of a person who has eaten stale foods. In time, the immune system also becomes weakened. I have helped countless people battle depression simply by having them eat fresh food.

So make cooking fresh your daily sadhana. Minimize leftovers, and when food is left over, eat it quickly so it doesn't sit in the refrigerator. Your own leftovers are better than those you bring home from restaurants and cafes because when you cook the food yourself, you know what has gone into it - both in terms of the ingredients and the emotions of the cook.

Take Your Time in Food Preparation

Ayurveda recommends preparing fresh foods in a slow and relaxed manner in a spirit of joy and with the keen anticipation that will make the salivary glands and other digestive juices flow. When we take the time to prepare our foods with natural ingredients available on our planet, these foods will, in turn, give us more time on this planet.

Food preparation begins with its purchase. I suggest you buy your groceries from natural markets or vendors who offer pure, organic, seasonal, and fresh foods. The next step is food prep - mindfully cutting, chopping, and otherwise readying the food to be cooked. Then, there is the cooking itself, the final step in a process that should delight the soul. I suggest you drop any habit you may have of rushing through your preparation. Instead, choose longer stretches of time for cooking. Then you can begin viewing food and its associated processes, equipment, tools, and gadgets as friends, not tasks.

In fact, watching food manifest from its initial raw stage to its final, ready-to-eat state is a meditation itself. Hold this thought: The world stands waiting while I cook my food as an offering to myself.

Make it Fine Dining Every Day

Based just on the length of its history, I think I can safely say that the art of fine dining was first given to the world by Ayurveda. The ancient texts of Ayurveda recognize the importance of eating in a beautiful place and of eating on appealing vessels and dishes.

Ayurveda fine dining includes, at a minimum, setting the stage with beautiful, clean, and inspirational crockery and eating utensils - whether flatware or chopsticks - with music in the background (wind chimes are great), perhaps a lit candle or two or oil lamps, and fresh flowers and fruits as an eye-catching centerpiece.

Sage Charaka further recommends dressing up for meals, wearing fragrant flowers on the body or perfumes, and also chanting sacred mantras before eating to set the right vibration and prepare the body and mind to accept the food with ease and grace. This is all pleasurable for our senses and plays a part in enhancing our anticipation of a meal, which in turn, boosts our digestive fire (agni).

Ayurveda recommends eye-catching utensils, fragrant spices, beautiful garnishes, and tasteful presentations of food to evoke excitement and enthusiasm and enjoyment in our act of eating. Fold away those TV trays and bring out your "guest" dishes - you should be giving yourself the care and beauty that you deserve. To put yourself in the center of your own lotus is extremely good for your health.

Read More in Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom

Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom is a groundbreaking work within the field of holistic health and traditional yoga. Raised in a distinguished lineage of Vedic mystics and healers, Acharya Shunya learned the ancient art of Ayurveda directly from her grandfather, a well-known healer in Northern India. Here, she presents both an engaging narrative of her unique education, as well as a complete encyclopedia of Ayurvedic practices, recipes, and knowledge. With Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom, Shunya maintains the integrity of Ayurveda’s traditional teachings while showing us how to integrate them into our modern lifestyles.

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