Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Food and Spirituality

Continuing onward in the practical side of spirituality, this blog is about food. There was a point where I think about half of my conversations with my one of my friends revolved around food. This really isn't an exaggeration. Both of us in our processes have been confronted by the continual need to re-evaluate what is okay, helpful, and sometimes devastating in terms of nutrition. I still don't really have this figured out, although I'll relay some of what I've learned from myself and others. The biggest part is to trust your own body to tell you what and how much it needs.

There's No Official Spiritual Diet
Sometimes I get the feeling from people that I've met that being vegetarian is somehow better than having meat in a diet. Then of course, there's the vegan movement. And there's the raw foods diet. And there's raw foods vegan diets. There's something call pescatarian in which the only meat someone eats is fish. The proliferation of different types of nutritional beliefs is kinda fascinating, but none of them holds any intrinsic value over each other or over the burgers and fries diets. I suppose if your body works best on burgers and fries, then that's just as "spiritual" a diet for you as any other. In my experience though, it really doesn't work, but that's my experience.

Hi and Welcome to Your Body
The biggest first step starts with your relationship to your food. Most of us don't have a relationship with our food. This sounds pretty cheesy, I know, but bear with me. It's important to be mindful when you're eating, but that's not exactly what I'm refering to. It's more along the lines of selecting the right nutrition for you (and not just following a random nutritional pyramid set up by a gov't agency or eating what your family has always eaten). I have learned to trust the different foods that I get attracted to during the day, and then I monitor myself to see how I'm feeling. Do I feel tired? Do I feel energized? Do I feel sick?

Over the course of time, my diet has shifted pretty dramatically. This is one aspect of my process that I've kinda had to run alongside with and catch up to at different points. There was about a month where all my body seemed to want was bran (my brother is currently laughing because he probably remembers that February because that was all I talked about on the phone). Other segments have had me completely into sugar snap peas, carrots, granola, dark chocolate, and blueberries--essentially, I was in a pretty serious detox mode and was looking for just about anything with antioxidants.

Nowadays, I seem to have settled down considerablely. The staples have become apples, corn, yogurt, chicken, rice to some extent, and beans. I also drink OJ like it's going out of style. But because I'm in a shift right now, my diet is libel to change again, and lately, it's been rather difficult to figure out what I want to eat in the mornings. More and more, my appetite before about 12pm seems to be evaporating, which is requiring another round of experimenting with foods for me.

What Not to Eat/Put in Your Body
If you want to get yourself moving into an awakening process or are already in one, you can grind things to a halt by drinking alcohol. I feel pretty awful pretty fast with around half a beer. I don't feel drunk like a light-weight drinker--I just feel sick and heavy and awful in the stomach. Heavy red meats can be problematic; I've noticed that I have almost no natural craving for those types of foods. Fish and chicken work best. After that, other meats (lamb, pork, beef) make me feel lethargic and less healthy. There's a little bit of a recovery time for my body to digest it and get rid of it. It should go without saying that drugs, cigarettes, and all that type of stuff will screw things up. I know some people have found interesting higher states with stuff like LSD (Ram Dass--I'm looking in your direction), but ultimately, that stuff is temporary and potentially damaging. It can also screw with your perception. Anyone in an awakening can attest to that fact that it's damn hard to figure out what's what with the re-wiring that goes on internally as it is. Adding another layer or filter can make things even more challenging/harrowing.

The Upper Division Spiritual Dietary Class
For those of us with lots of stuff moving inside, you may get into high states that you just can't handle. It's easy to end up in a freak-out mode. I probably could have a whole post about what I mean by "freak out," but it's enough to say that with so many changes going on to how you see, experience, and relate to the world that it gets damned scary. Here's what I've heard and experienced for myself to get out of a jam:

  1. Sugar--Sometimes a little ice cream or dark chocolate gets you out of a jam. I don't use this too much. Sugar can also make me really unbalanced and cause more problems.
  2. Coffee--Also something I've been told, but I haven't used.
  3. Corn--This brings me back down to earth faster than just about anything.
  4. Baby spinach--Another fast track back to some kind of stability.
Bon Appetit
But above all, it's really important to figure out what works for you. Starting from a clean slate can help. So a 3 to 7 day fast can be really helpful. As you go through a fast, things will start to move, and you'll probably get a sense of what issues you've been keeping locked down. In many respects, food often gets used to hold stuff down. A fast can get things moving up and out so you can heal and make space for more of...well, your true you. I'm not a huge fan of fasting, but it can help. After that, start experimenting with different foods and figure out what works for you. It will change during the process, and that's okay. Change is part of the whole process after all.
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