The first month of the new year is when the world’s perennial search for health is at it’s most charged, in light of this I look to Sufi philosophy for inspiration in my quest to unearth vitality through mindful eating in 2016.
Sufism has an ancient and beautiful history, the health industry has had a different past – one that has been highly contradictory over what to eat in a bid to be healthy. Mindful eating is the exact opposite of this status quo.
I believe that the passage to real wellbeing is a satiated mind, body and soul or being able to eat peacefully without obsessing over our choices whatever they are. In order to find this balance between mind, body and soul we need to make our peace with the idea that a worldly concept of health much like the concept of our own self is on a journey and therefore constantly evolving. While worldly health is a product of time, place, popular culture and the limitations of science and research, Sufism is free from such restrictions just as mindful eating is.
For example, there was a time when eggs were touted for being loaded with cholesterol and we were encourage to curb our consumption of them, today’s research suggests that eating eggs everyday does not lead to cholesterol problems or heart disease. So now we eat them? For most people their journey towards wellbeing is outward, where as it should be inwards. Perhaps taking stock of how our own body responded to eggs would have been the better choice all along.
We live in a fickle world that loves avocados one minute and hates them the next, there’s always a new superfood waiting around the corner promising so much more than it’s predecessor, each grain goes through it’s own scrutiny, food items that were once our truest foe have now become our friends, for example saturated fat.
How many times have Americans read about a study damning this or that food, only to then hear the revisionist opposite? Avoid eggs, we were told; they clog your arteries. Wait, we then heard, eggs have nutritional value. Coffee can give you cancer. Hold on, coffee can improve brain function. Butter is terrible. Well, not really. Again and again, yesterday’s verity becomes today’s punch line. [Clyde Haberman, A Healthy Diet’s Main Ingredient]
What’s imperative to this idea of our vitality is finding the self, that we should not just be a mere reflection of the world we are living in. How many times have we taken up the latest fad diet that promises to help us drop ten pounds in two weeks? Or spent a fortune on some superfood while continuing to leave greens off our plates? Or continued to eat beyond the point of fullness? Or even stuffed our faces with junk after a fad diet? All the while ignoring what our bodies are really crying out for, some mindful eating.
Unlike restrictive diets, mindful eating, like Sufism is free of limitations. Mindful eating like Sufism is an experience of the inner path and established on the laws of being. Mindful eating like Sufism is not just an abstract idea or gateway to some sweet truth without any endeavour. When one eats mindfully they are in tune with the self, the self that requires a green smoothie some days and cookies on another.
Sure we’re going to eat better but it’s going take some work. In order to do it we’re going to take away the fear, we’re going to move our bodies in a way that feels good (not to burn off some M&Ms frantically) and instead of eating less, we’re going to cook more! When I say cook, lets really cook! Let’s pick up a vegetable we never cared for, discover a new spice, go to the farmer’s market we’ve been meaning to go to, or remake our family’s most prestigious dish or maybe it’s not about food at all. Maybe it’s just about switching off for while. Whatever it is, we’re going to do it!
We’re going to shake things up this year, you and I. We’re going to start looking inwards. We’re going to devour our way to vitality. I’m going to make my recipes simpler with ingredients you can find at the grocery store down the road in the hope that this will encourage you to cook more. While I stay true to myself, you don’t have to make my truth yours, you don’t have to follow my recipes rigidly, it’s your vitality, not mine.