"As a child growing up in the 70"s in central California I had many experiences that aligned me to natural health. My mom was very centered in a natural approach to living including going to the dairy for fresh milk, transcendental meditation and a vegetarian diet rooted in seasonal cooking through the lens of her Italian family. To say it now seems like no big deal, but to try and navigate a diet without animal proteins and fresh, seasonal goods in a mid-sized city at that time was not so easy. I remember an occasion when my sister and I begged to go to a certain known fast food restaurant that EVERYONE was going to. She finally conceded and so we proceeded. But trying to order cheeseburgers "hold the meat", add extra lettuce and pickles was an epic mystery to the folks behind the counter. We did finally manage to walk out with said "cheeseburgers" made by the manager herself, I still don"t understand what all the hoop-la was all about, but the french fries were the best! All of these choices of living really left an indelible mark on my young heart and as I aged this blossomed into what is now my life"s work and the way I make my living.
When I first came to study Ayurveda I could not believe the philosophy matched so beautifully to what I had been raised with. Across the globe and from far and away places to each other, Ayurveda shared her wisdom with me and it felt like a continuation of the threads we had woven in my childhood, and more. But as an adult I had made choices and decisions that moved me away from that life and so it was time to unlearn a few things and go much deeper.
Food is medicine was a term I heard early on in my introduction to Ayurvedic cooking. An important philosophy really, stemming from ancient wisdom that reminds us that everything we eat has an impact. A dear teacher once said to us "everything is good, everything is bad. Nothing is good, nothing is bad". A reminder of how highly individualized our eating might be taking into consideration time of day, time of season and time of life. Nothing is ever rote but rather a highly organic and beautifully unique experience. These concepts of time, or in Sanskrit kala, are important understandings of how food can be so impactful beyond just what is put into our mouth.
Time of Day. The body is a natural time piece. Not in a linear sense but in a wonderful and organic way. When in the flow of this type of energy, which I think of as rhythm, we can well feel the natural call of hunger and then eating. For example, It makes so much good sense that when the sun is high in the sky and at it"s strongest point, our internal sun aka agni (akin to digestive fire in Sanskrit, the original language of Ayurveda) is also at it"s strongest and therefore a very good time to take our largest meal. And, as a result a better chance of honoring the body and their natural ability to break down food. Attuning to this natural rhythm regularly strengthens the fire within and helps us stay in closer relation to good health. Since it is believed that Agni is likened in importance to the Goddess, it is considered wise action to support Her well.
Time of year. Our bodies are amazing vessels cohabitating and conversing with the natural world around us. Ayurveda shares that seasonal living is an important attunement for our heath, especially our digestive fire (agni). When we align to what Nature is doing outside we do a very power thing inside. We open the conversation and the mind bodies" very innate sense of what feels "Right" from our own internal voice. I believe this conversation is sacred and pure. It helps create and support natural rhythm and flow and informs the channels and feedback loops that are fortifying, stabilizing and nourishing at a deep level.
Time of Life. The ageing process is very natural. I think it asks us to listen and pay attention as we move through life. That attention gets more and more refined and aware. It is one of the many boons that we can welcome and support as honored wisdom on the life path. Our digestion is one of the many functions that also changes and refines over time as we process food. Chances are that the energy and vitality that we once needed in quantity and regularity might shift as life shifts too. Demands and how we spend our time and energy will naturally feel and find a different rhythm and so adjusting to that to better support the fires within is another tool of aligning and attuning to our internal voice and connections.
Ayurveda also shares that nourishment comes from many different places beyond food. Every day our mind, body and spirit do the big tasks of ingesting and digesting ideas, emotions, experiences and communication. We "eat" images off of screens and difficult conversations with peers at the office. We also feast on sharing a sincere and heartfelt compliment or writing a love note to someone we adore. For better or worse, in health and happiness, we are married to ourselves and the world around us as vital foods that we are, in turn, made of. And while this concept can be more subtle, the energy it takes to digest the world around us is true and will impact our health. For me this translates to awareness and intention. There can be great value and importance in connectivity of all sorts. So my work is to be clear about how I participate and use my energy in regards to it. For me this understanding changes that energetic relationship to external connectivity and therefore the way I take it in and digest it.
So food is medicine, and indeed I believe it to be true but understanding and remembering that there are so many good ways to strengthen and attune to the ways we nourish ourselves feels like wisdom Ayurveda asks us to pay attention to. Calorie counting and food journals may be one way to support the deepening of awareness, especially when done as a resource of understanding. ANDI believe there are many aspects to understanding how food can contribute to wise action and understanding in all of our bodies, a gift Ayurveda continues to reveal in so many different ways."
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