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April 12, 2016

The Power of Food as a Spiritual Tool.

Ryan McGuire/gratisography

Food is everywhere. Literally, everywhere.

It’s in the media, in the shops we go to and, for must of us, in our minds—or is that just me?

Food is also a necessity. Our body demands it to stay alive; we need it to be healthy. But because of the constant social reminders that surround us with food, it’s easy for food to become something not so healthy. In excess or lack of, it can be dangerous.

Undoubtedly, a bad relationship with food can be damaging for our emotional health, but on the flip side, can a good relationship with food be spiritual?

The religious texts mention it, the yogis rave about it and the meditators sing it from the rooftops: what we eat matters. The Bible tells us to “eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart” ( Ecclesiastes 9:7) and Krishna informs Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita that “there is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogī…if one eats too much, or eats too little.”

Yep, this sh*t is important.

Whether we eat too much, not enough or simply the “wrong stuff,” what we eat affects our body and our mood—and our physical state has a direct link to our desire and ability to be spiritual. Although I admit I have been denying the cliche “your body is a temple” for years, just so I can justify shoving my face with whatever I like.

But, truth be told, there’s no way that a tub of ice cream is doing any of my chakras any good. Shame.

On a personal level, I have been keen on spirituality for a few years now and am always reading, meditating, learning and practicing. But for approximately the same number of years, I had neglected my nutrition, diet and care for my physical body. I didn’t physically feel good, healthy or energized, and this made me reluctant to live in the present, be grateful or truly embrace any of my spiritual practices.

Hand on my heart, I think that this neglect and abuse for my body almost defeated the point of any meditating I was doing. Again, shame.

I wasn’t spiritually feeding my mind properly, because I wasn’t physically feeding my body appropriately. And feeding your body properly can be hard. We’re all in the same boat—except for those naturally radiant and nutritious fellows that always appear on the television after you’ve eaten the last bite of that chocolate cake. But…my point is, these habits don’t make me a bad person, they just make me human.

And us humans are all capable of positive and healthy change.

The tables have now turned and I am eating well, exercising regularly and taking care of myself physically. Consequently, I am also taking care of myself emotionally and spiritually. The concentration of my practice is better, as is my desire to commit and live in the present. All because I decided not to negatively engage with food the way the images we often see encourage us too.

Living spiritually is all about love and living physically is all about food. The two are adamantly interconnected and are impossible to separate.

Health and love in their purest form do not discriminate, and therefore we cannot decide to be loving in some areas of our life, and negligent in others. In essence, if we do not love ourselves physically, how can we love ourselves spiritually?

And if we don’t make the choice to love and care for our physical bodies, is that really love?

 

Author: Katie Gard

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: Ryan McGuire/gratisography

 

 

 

 

 

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Katie Gard