Use this meditation for cooks to turn your cooking into a mini-retreat. Calm your mind and enjoy the present moment while you prepare food for yourself or others.
Prepare Your Space
Start by preparing your space so you can to focus on the present moment. Free your kitchen from distractions if you can. Turn off the TV or radio. Silence your phone. Move the stack of bills or paperwork.
Clear Your Mind
Now take a moment to bring your mind to where you are right now. Choose a spot where you can stand or sit comfortably near a clean stretch of counter or tabletop. If you want, put something you find beautiful or inspiring in front of you, maybe a flower, a piece of fruit, or a picture of your family.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or sit upright in your chair. Put your palms firmly on the counter. Close your eyes or focus them on your beautiful object.
3×3 Thanks Mediation
You will be taking three sets of three breaths. Breathe deeply in and out, following your breath from your nose to deep in your belly. Breathe out fully, emptying your lungs and relaxing your body. For three breaths each, concentrate on:
- Your body as it is now
- How this food and space connect you with the larger world
- How cooking this meal will make a difference
If you have time or want to focus more deeply, take extra breaths. But just nine normal breaths, taken with intent and focus, can transform your cooking experience. Ready? Let’s do it!
1) Your Body as It is Now
For the first three breaths, focus on your body. Feel your feet firm on the floor and your hands firmly on the counter. Feel the energy of the Earth flowing from your feet, through your body, and out through your palms. Contemplate the first three thanks:
- Breathing in, I feel my firm connection to the Earth.
- Breathing out, I feel the flow of the Earth’s energy.
- Breathing in, I explore any hunger.
- Breathing out, I relax my hunger.
- Breathing in, I feel my strength.
- Breathing out, I will nourish that strength.
What was that experience like for you? Did you have a sense of being part of the Earth, not just a tourist here or being floating mind in your head? I like to visualize the energy of the Earth flowing up through my feet, coursing through my body and head, and then returning out through my palms. Let this breath heal any sense of separation from the Earth.
What is your hunger like, if any? Often we cook out of habit or tradition. It’s time to eat, so we do. Now if you are cooking for others, you can’t skip a meal or just serve fruit to them because you aren’t hungry. On the other hand, maybe you, like so many people, are very hungry because you didn’t get enough to eat at your last meal. Maybe it’s just been a long time since you ate. Checking in with your actual, current hunger can help you wisely cook an appropriate amount. Acknowledge that hunger. Ask your hunger to relax and let you prepare a good meal for it.
Focusing on your body’s strength even for a breath may inspire you to prepare healthy food. Sometimes this breath makes me aware that I need a green or orange vegetable still today, or that I haven’t had hearty greens for a few days. Maybe I need more fruit or a whole grain to balance my day.
Did you feel the strength that you have right now? Even during times of illness or during the natural changes that happen as we age, you have strength. Just the ability to breathe and to focus your mind shows strength. Enjoy what you have today. As you take these first three breaths for a few days, notice the shift in your sense of connection, hunger, and strength. It’s a good reminder that nothing is permanent.
2) Gratitude and Connection
For the next three breaths, think about how your kitchen and the food you are about to prepare connect you with the rest of the world. Awaken your gratitude for all who have made it possible for you to cook the meal you are about to prepare. Feel grateful for your own strength and work too. During the third breath, focus your gratitude on a person or group who made cooking what and where you are possible. I’m going to use a specific example, but you choose one that calls to your heart.
- Breathing in, I feel connected to my kitchen.
- Breathing out, I am thankful for those who made it possible.
- Breathing in, I feel connected to the food I am about to prepare.
- Breathing out, I am grateful for those who grew it and brought it here.
- Breathing in, I honor my farmers Jason and Haruka for nurturing this lettuce from seed to market.
- Breathing out, may my farmers be happy and free from suffering.
What was that experience like for you? Did you have a hard time thinking about who made your kitchen or the kitchen you are using possible? How clear is your understanding of where your food comes from? It’s amazing how many choices you have! Be grateful to the person who installed your counter or made the knife you are about to use. Thank your grandmother for teaching you the recipe you are about to use. Appreciate the ancient people who first selected corn with larger kernels or sweeter apples. Thank God or Thomas Edison. Honor your farmer, your grocery store clerk, or the road crew who connected you. If you are thinking of someone in the past, for the last line you can wish that others like him or her are happy and free from suffering.
3) Awaken Your Purpose
Finally, take three breaths to dedicate your cooking to a difference you’d like to make. I usually think about how and why I want to fuel myself, then about my Taster or someone else I am eating with, and finally the difference I hope to make. For example:
- May this food nourish me.
- May I help others learn to cook healthy food.
- May this food nourish my Taster.
- May it give him the energy to proof-read this post.
- May learning how to cook plant-based meals
- Help reduce suffering by animals and those who work with them.
Other examples include:
- May this meal bring all of those around the table together in love and companionship.
- May this food give my child the energy to study tonight.
- May this food please my partner, who worked so hard today.
- May this food nourish my friend. May she and her new baby thrive.
- May the extra food I am taking to my neighbor help her recover.
- May my care in avoiding waste help shrink my carbon footprint.
- May my mindfulness as I cook and eat sooth my troubled spirits.
- May I arrange this meal as if it were a mandala, aware of its beauty and impermanence.
Open Your Eyes and Feel the Change
Now slowly open your eyes. Feel how relaxed and focused you are. If you wish, go on to practice mindful cooking.