What you eat and how you eat, can reflect on your behavior in ways you cannot fathom. If your meditations are not deep enough, or if you experience restlessness or lethargy, the answer would often lie in the food you consumed and the manner in which you consumed it. Here is a telling commentary on the many layers of connection between food and mind, by globally revered spiritual teacher, humanitarian and a voice for peace and diversity, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who founded the International Association For Human Values.
“Food is one of the main sources from which we gain energy. Not only that, the kind of food we have influences our mind, thoughts and behavior. There is an ancient saying in India – “as is the food, so is the mind”.
Once, there was a great monk who lived in the Himalayas. People loved and welcomed him and he had free access anywhere he went. This monk would go to the king’s palace to have lunch everyday. The queen would serve him in a golden plate and cup and he would leave afterwards. One day, after his meal, he grabbed a silver glass and a golden spoon and walked away with it. He did not even tell anyone that he wanted them. People in the palace were surprised. ‘‘What happened to the monk? He has never taken anything like that, that too without telling anybody!’’ they wondered. Three days later he brought those things back and returned them. This was even more puzzling.
The king called all the wise people to analyze the monk’s behavior. The pundits and the wise men investigated to find out what was fed to the monk that day. They found out that some food, which had been confiscated from dacoits, was cooked and served to the monk and that had made him rob!
The state of mind of the people who bring food to you also affects you. There is an ancient prayer in India that people say before a meal, which means – Let the provider of this food be happy. When you say this, you are wishing prosperity for three people – the farmer, the trader and the person who cooks the food and serves it to you. Even if one of them is sad, our lives will also be affected. Farmers are unhappy because the growing use of chemicals has reduced the fertility of the soil and put them under debt. We need to educate them in cost-effective ways of natural farming. If the merchants are happy and do their business without being greedy, they will not need to do adulteration. If the women in the house shed tears and cook food, we will have to shed tears to digest it; we will get body aches, headaches, stomach pains and various diseases. Therefore, the ancient prayer wishes happiness and prosperity to all three.
Another ancient saying proclaims ‘Food is God’. When you consider food as God you will not simply stuff yourself, but eat with honor. Most of the time we want to eat food that is tasty, and not food which is good for the body. We must pay attention to food and eat the right amount, the right type at the right time.
The debate on ‘why it is good to be a vegetarian‘ has long been settled. People all over the world have started understanding that human physiology is made for a vegetarian diet. The internet is full of information on why eating meat is not good for both one’s own health or the environment. There is plenty of very disturbing footage also available on what treatment animals are subjected to in slaughterhouses, like the documentary ‘Meet your Meat’. They are injected with hormones so that they grow faster and add more bulk. All these chemicals then end up in the bodies of people who eat this meat. But their system cannot take these chemicals and they eventually turn into cancers and other immune system disorders. The milk from these animals is also toxic and is rejected by the consumers’ biology. In fact, the large number of cases of lactose intolerance and diseases among meat eaters was what gave birth to the vegan movement.
The Indian ancient science of meditation and pranayama combined with Ayurveda is over 5,000 – 8,000 years old. It has been responsible for the good health and well being of generations. All changes have to start with yourself. Remember that when you eat, you are offering food to the Divine that resides inside this body. So honor your food, eat right and stay healthy. “
About The Author
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is an international humanitarian leader and a spiritual master who is the global rallying voice of this generation’s collective call for peace.
Named one of the “Seven Most Powerful People in India,” by Forbes, his world-renowned meditation techniques helped end the 60-year conflict in Colombia. He has been credited with bringing opposing parties together to facilitate meditation and peace talks in Iraq, Cote d’Ivoire and India.
Founder of the Art of Living Foundation and International Association for Human Values, Sri Sri is leading the way toward peace and tolerance through meditation and humanitarian efforts. Over 35 years, his programs and initiatives have touched the lives of over 370 million people in over 150 countries.
“Sudarshan Kriya,” the meditation technique introduced by Sri Sri is backed by research and implemented in schools, corporations, prisons, refugee camps and retreat centers around the world. As a spiritual teacher, Sri Sri has rekindled traditions of yoga and meditation that have helped millions of people achieve personal and social transformation by relieving stress and discovering inner peace in daily life.