Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 1: Making Time to Practice

Monday, Day 1: Making Time to Practice

In all of my research and studies about food and health, one of the most startling discoveries was that the single most determinant lifestyle factor related to health was whether or not we prepare our own meals.  This lifestyle indicator was more predictive of long-term health than following any particular diet or exercise plan.   In other words, the more one consumes meals prepared by a person, the greater the correlation is for good health.  Food columnist, Michael Pollan has many great sayings about food, one in particular that captures this idea:  “If it comes from a plant, eat it, if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

Yet, too often we choose convenience at the expense of long-term health.

The average amount of time Americans spent preparing, cooking, serving and cleaning up food has shrunk to 37-minutes a day?  The amount of time we spend on average to nourish our bodies has shrunk almost in half since the 1960s*.  During this decline we’ve also seen a substantial rise in health issues attributed to lifestyle.  Understandably, we live in busy times and we all feel pressure to do more with less time and may have obligations that limit the amount of time in the kitchen.  And yet, we often do find a way to make time for the things that really matter to us.  Or maybe we just need to be given permission to make time for ourselves, like carving out time to practice yoga.  It’s not always about having time, it’s about making time.

Now I’m not trying to suggest that we all need to be slaving away in our kitchens for hours a day cooking up gourmet meals, nor that we even need to cook every single day.  The modern convenience of prepared foods can be a way to save time without sacrificing health.  Over the course of the next 22-days, we’ll explore ways to save time and how to find convenient options that are healthy too.  For now, our first practice is about making time to enjoy a meal with full presence.

The yoga sutras of Patanjali begins:
atha yoga anushasanam, which means “now, the practice of yoga begins."

Practice for the day, to be repeated as often as you can practice:

Take note of how much time you allot for yourself to eat.  Can you dedicate a few extra minutes, or perhaps longer to sit and enjoy an entire meal?  If you have a family, you may already have a practice of eating a meal together.  Recognize that this is a practice, it is a sacred time, whether alone or together to be grateful for this meal.

  • Consider silencing and removing from sight any potential distractions like cell phones or personal devices from your eating space, just as you would do during a yoga class.
  • Slowing down while we eat helps us to eat just enough food so we feel comfortably full.

“Spend time with your food; every minute of your meal should be happy. Not many people have the time and the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal like that. We are very fortunate.” ― Thich Nhat HanhHow to Eat

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