Kindness. Contemplation. Creation. Connection.
Continuing with thoughts about food and mindful eating, I’m reminded of something I stumbled across in the kitchen at the Hermitage. It was titled, “Verses for Preparing Food.” Not only were the retreatants encouraged to think about their meals mindfully, but the cooks were encouraged to think about how and why they were preparing their food. Mindful preparation and mindful eating is a part of the cyclical nature of gratitude for what sustains us: Food and eating.
I plan to print up the verses and keep it in the kitchen to remind myself to stay open and compassionate while preparing food. I often feel rushed and resentful about preparing food, as if all I’m doing is feeding our human machines. But if I continue to be mindful while cooking, keeping in mind the kind intentions behind the preparation of the meal, then positive energy is formed and will continue to grow, and my community (whether it’s me and my husband, or friends, or family, etc.) will benefit, as will I. Like the positive actions that were taken by a couple of thousand people to turn the flood of negativity into a flood of hope and concrete positive action during the Kindness Flag Project’s post-riot initiative, a seemingly small act of mindful, loving, compassionate food preparation can have a similar effect, albeit at a smaller scale. Which is a reminder that no matter what you do, small or large, keeping kindness, mindfulness and compassion as the foundation of every action will lead to greater satisfaction and happiness.
I hope you will consider these verses below and maybe even print them up and put them in your kitchen too. I’ve made some minor changes because the original was written with the volunteer cooks in mind who cater to groups of meditation practitioners at the Hermitage. For example, I modified the the first line, which would have read, “We are going to offer service by preparing a meal for the community of Dharma practitioners.” Like me, many of you reading this won’t be cooking for 20 people at a time at a meditation retreat! You’re probably cooking mostly for yourselves and your families and friends. Our communities are a little different than the Hermitage’s, but the verses can still be applied while we’re cooking. You might even find yourself smiling through the tears of cutting an onion! All because your heart is open and joyful.
May your next meal be all that much more delicious and meaningful. Bon appetit!
Verses for Preparing Food
We are going to offer service by preparing a meal for our community.
How fortunate we are to have the opportunity to prepare and cook this food.
The food will nourish their bodies, and the love we put into preparing it will nourish their hearts.
Preparing food is an expression of our kind heart.
When we chop, mix and cook, we will work with mindfulness and a relaxed mind.
We will leave aside idle talk, and speak with gentle and low voices.
The menu will be simple and healthy, free from distraction of elaborate and complicated menus.
We will wash the veggies and fruits well, thinking that we are cleansing disturbing emotions from the minds of sentient beings with the nectar of wisdom.
Out of consideration for those who will clean up after the meal, we will tidy up after ourselves.
Let’s take joy in working harmoniously together for the benefit of all!