Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Secret Sits

Sigh....this is not my sweetheart.
I just had a textbook demonstration of our collective mindlessness sucking the richness out of experience.  It was at a Royal Wood concert.  What?  You don’t know Royal Wood?  Well, as they say on the good ol’ CBC (which you obviously don’t listen to), your next favourite song is right here. Or here.

His voice is resonant as a cello.  His songs are Michael Ondaatje novels, or maybe Tom Thomson paintings.  His live shows are aesthetically satisfying in so very many ways.  You know that corny term “dreamboat”?  This is a man to whom you could apply that word without irony.  I mean, he closed his show with his own adaptation of my favourite Robert Frost poem.  Mercy.

Excuse me.  I’m getting carried away.

Anyway, there was this moment in the show.  The intimate little theatre was dark and still, with a single spotlight glowing on him. He was at the grand piano, carefully drawing the song to a close.  Before he could conclude the audience started in with the clapping.  It was so unsatisfying.  Even he seemed a little frustrated, like we cut him off before he got to his final point.

Wait for it.  This post actually relates to mindful eating.

This happens at movies too.  I didn’t mind people getting up before the credits of American Hustle at the multiplex, but when I’ve just had my mind blown in some moving or thought-provoking way at the local art-house theatre, I’d like to sit for a quiet moment before the lights come up.  Where’s everybody in a big hurry to get to?  It’s not like there’s going to be a traffic jam on the sidewalk as they walk home.

I’ve realized I do this same thing pretty much every time I eat - as do most people, I’ve observed.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a square of my new favourite mint dark chocolate, or a delicious (or mediocre) meal I’ve cooked.  Before I’ve finished chewing the last bite, I’m outta my chair and on to the next thing.  Filled my gut; time to hit something else on the to-do list.

Ridiculous, isn’t it?  So, my practice lately has been to try to notice the urge to wrap things up before the last bite has reached my belly, and to just PAUSE.

At the end of a yoga class we don’t put on our sneaks and scram.  We rest in corpse pose – sometimes for a long time.  And then we sit.  And then we chant Om.  There’s a reason for this.  Why not treat our meals with the same appreciation? 

Way back in the early days of my yoga life, I sometimes left the class before the final savasana.  Too busy to lay around doing nothing!  This was a lie, of course.  I was a grad student.  I had nothing to do but find ways to avoid finishing my thesis.  I really didn’t get the point of yoga back then.

I’m more aware now.  Taking a moment to appreciate my food with some gracious thoughts at the beginning of my meal still eludes me, but I can remember to rest in satiety after eating.  I used to be a premature clapper too.  But where’s the pleasure in that?
Sigh...THIS is my sweetheart.  Making me coffee in our outdoor kitchen.
That's way dreamier than playing the piano.

Sunday, 16 November 2014


In Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving several few weeks ago.  This coincided perfectly with the last assignment of my online mindful eating course: looking deeply into our food.

(An aside: I'm sorry, my American friends, but it makes SO much more sense to have this holiday in October. I recently visited your fair country and saw plenty of Christmas decorations, but no cheerful orange pumpkins, happy turkeys in pilgrim hats, or wreaths of colourful autumn leaves.  So why bother celebrating Thanskgiving at all?)

The point of "looking deeply into our food" was to trace the path the food took from a seed in the ground to my plate, and then to feel gratitude for each person and energy source involved in each step.  I struggled with this one.  I'm pretty righteous when it comes to food choices, and for my most righteous foods the exercise was so easy it seemed almost pointless.  It went like this: farmer's market, shopping bag, bicycle basket, fridge, cutting board, stove, plate, mouth.  Or even better: backyard, hand, mouth (this applies to my fall raspberry harvest).  

Of course, if you want an A+ on this one, you could think about the people who first domesticated raspberries from the wild fruit, the carbon sources that went into making the soil I planted the canes in, the First Nations people who were displaced when Europeans founded this city and started building it, the family who first built my home 100 years ago, etc. etc.

Although I'm righteous, I have my vices, too.  For the vice foods (say, instant hot chocolate or coffee), this was so difficult and abstract I couldn't train my mind to concentrate on it.  I found it easier to do this when I actually went to Nicaragua and saw how coffee is grown.

But being the keen student that I am, I wanted to make sure that I completed the exercise properly.  I chose a beautiful heritage squash that I had bought from  Freedom Farms, my favourite vendor at the local farmer's market.  I've visited this farm during an Open Farms event, so I could even picture where the squash was grown.  This farmer is friendly and chatty so I know a little bit about the trajectory that brought him to the farm, and the squash to my home.  

Here is a list of gratitudes that came up as I prepared, cooked, and eventually enjoyed my lovely little squash.

As I look deeply into this heritage squash, I am thankful that:

- it was part of a lovely centrepiece I arranged for the Thanksgiving meal I shared with people I love

- there is some left over to eat on another day
- it is full of intense orange nutrients
- it is feeding my healthy body, which I will use to go do fun activities
- there is an amazing farmer's market down the street from my house
- the farmer that sold me this squash is so pleasant
- I can roast the seeds for a yummy snack
- I can put the skin into my compost and one day it will become part of my garden

Who wouldn't feel thankful buying beautiful veggies from these smiling faces?