The meditation of cooking an act of Mindfulness and self love

Basket of food and flowers from the Toledo farmers market

Basket of food and flowers from the Toledo farmers market

In my opinion cooking is a form of meditation and radical self love.  Every step of the process can be intentional.  For me it often starts with going to the grocery store or farmers market my sights set on picking nourishing organic, local, whole foods, and putting the groceries away with care when I get home.  In the spring and summer it often starts with planting and growing my own garden, but this very week in January it starts with my local co-op grocery store. When I get home the mindfulness of taking time to clean and chop away at the vegetables helps ground me especially after a long day of work and meetings.  Sitting down in my home at my table to savor the outcome of my labor feels like an act of rebellion because I know it's intentional.  I'm bringing mindfulness into my day, I'm mono-tasking.  Even the act of cleaning up is meditation.  Many of us have read Thich Nhat Hanh's The Miracle of mindfulness and his excerpt on washing the dishes.  He says "you must wash the dishes to wash the dishes".  That passage was life changing when I read it almost 10 years ago.  I understand now it's all practice.  Life gives us so many opportunities to practice mindfulness Pema Chodron reminds us "we don't need to go looking for them".  Cooking is one of my daily mindfulness practices, like a prayer or ritual that I do for myself.  It's not only a promise of health and medicine it's an opportunity to return to myself.  

Preparing food feels like a luxury to me.  Over the last month, I couldn't cook at all in my kitchen, due to a water leak that lead to an unexpected remodel.  I couldn't heat anything, store anything, or even boil water for a cup of coffee for that matter.  I longed for the sensation of control over what I could put into my body.  I longed to be able to prepare food for myself.  Dining out became a necessary instead of a treat.  I find that eating out is great up to a point, I am indeed a foodie, but I crave the meditation of the process of cooking food.  I crave the ability to choose organic and local, I crave how preparing my own food forces me to slow down.  

Too often in this busy world we eat quickly and mindlessly.  I'm not exempt from that.  Life can be crazy and lead us into habits that aren't healthy, like not preparing our own food, or eating quickly in the car or in front of our computers while we work through lunch.  One full day into being able to cook for myself and I feel a large amount of stress dissolving.  There are times when needing to eat quickly is unavoidable believe me I know, but I want to challenge you to prepare mindfully at least one meal a day for yourself start to finish.  I would venture to say that if you start with one meal a day it might spread to the rest.  Try it and see what you think.  If you do this already how do you think it impacts the rest of your life?