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Seasoning as symptom?

March 8, 2014

Bottled_Seasoning,_Trinidad_and_TobagoI had the delightful opportunity to sit this morning in an unfamiliar but tremendously comforting place, to gaze lovingly out onto a winter-bare meadow glistening in the morning sunlight angling through the woods and bursting onto the reflective whiteness of frozen snow. And to eat a plain hard-boiled egg.

OK, so the egg part doesn’t sound so romantic or poetic, but indeed it was. I took a moment to briefly feel some gratitude toward the chicken who birthed it, but mostly I simply enjoyed it as it was.

The pieces of shell yielding to my gentle touch.

The micro-rush of being able to pull off a particularly large piece of shell intact.

The quick sweep of my finger across the smooth surface to detect any lingering shards of hardness.

And then I ate it slowly and mindfully.

It was delightful. Just as it was. And it nourished my body as well as my senses by being what it was and allowing itself to be eaten.

Soon after finishing my little egg meditation I thought about how I usually eat hard-boiled eggs. Quickly, without much attention and with a lot of seasoning. Salt and pepper maybe, or some other spices sprinkled on each bite, with an underlying imperative that something has to be added in order to make the experience complete. And then I thought of how I eat eggs in other forms, quite often with some sort of hot sauce like Sriracha or Cholula.

And then I thought of my friend Hubert, a wonderful German chef who often cooks for our mindfulness training retreats. He once bemoaned how so many people want seasonings and condiments for the food he prepares, even before they have tasted the food. It seemed as if he was a bit insulted by this behavior.

I put this all together and wondered if perhaps our growing reliance on spices, sauces, and flavorings (witness how many flavors of potato chips you can buy these days!) is because we are actually honoring some deep desire to simply taste our food?

But because of our frenzied pace and fractured attention, our food is often dismissed, overlooked or simply consumed thoughtlessly like fuel. What if, when we reach for the hot sauce we could see it as our deep desire to remain intimately connected to the life-sustaining essence of our food? Could the salt and pepper be a mindfulness bell that reminds us to pause and be with the process of eating so that we can give ourselves what we deeply need: the simple experience of tasting what we are putting in our mouths?

It’s hip to be a foodie these days, but maybe being a foodie is really an inflated version of our deepest instinct to taste. What might it be like to pause and consider the chipotle-infused, citrus-brined and applewood-smoked pork loin chop nestled in a bed of hand-massaged, lemon-macerated kale beside a hillock of garlic-laden goat-cheese-topped whipped Andalusian parsnips? And to instead see the pork chop, garden greens and vegetables that it is. And then really EAT it with full awareness, unlocking all that it has to offer, bite by bite, without distraction.

Might this be the deepest expression of our true nature to connect with and taste what we eat? What would it be like to let go of needing our food to be ANY different than it is? What would we learn? What would we lose? What would we discover?

Maybe our meditation practice can simply be each meal. After all, you were going to eat anyway, right?

 

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Rosemary permalink
    March 8, 2014 8:43 am

    Well, now your delightful description has made me hungry! 🙂 But what a beautiful way to remind me to slow down and pay attention to something that I do several times a day. I think I’ll go and enjoy an egg.

  2. March 18, 2014 10:35 am

    Beautiful description of how everything on the path is useful – even Sriracha or Cholula sauce! Such a great example of how we are always adding things — spices, thoughts, comments — before we’ve even tasted, paused or listened. And of course, as though what’s here right now in this moment, isn’t enough.

  3. June 14, 2014 7:18 am

    When I’m in peaceful (meditation induced) mode, I find myself yearning for the simplest foods and drinks: bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, homemade soup, a piece of cheese, and water. Everything else suddenly looks overcomplicated.

  4. July 3, 2014 3:01 pm

    Thank you for such a beautiful piece of writing. I was actually sitting down to enjoy my breakfast of vegetables and two eggs, raw rather than boiled for me today, and this enticed me into a very different experience of my food. On occasion I do enjoy the meditative value of food, certainly with dark chocolate and also ice-cream in summer, gathering the full joy and appreciation for everything they bring.

    Though often as you say food is “simply consumed thoughtlessly like fuel”, something which I have on many occasions done. As with all things, bringing the element of mindfulness and meditation into the equation brings a very different experience, and I am grateful for the gentle reminder this morning. Having that increased level of appreciation and depth to food does take it to a different level, something Iook forward to enjoying on a more regular basis from now, whether I am in a winter bare meadow or at home when I come to eat.

    Beautiful piece, thank you.

  5. August 21, 2014 8:33 am

    This is so wonderful! I feel more people need to take time to use mindfulness in our everyday task!

    -Caroline
    caroline@rumur.com

  6. September 21, 2014 10:21 am

    Gorgeous thoughts. It really should be as simple as that. I find it hard to always be mindful but your comparisons here to such simple things as spices in relation to being in the moment is quite poetic. I try as often as I can to meditate but must admit that I cannot always shut my mind off long enough!

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