Food has a spiritual nature. Experiments show that praying over seeds causes them to grow faster and that there are taste differences between blessed and unblessed water. Don't you prefer food that has been prepared by good friends? And you'd expect an identical recipe to taste better when cooked by a loved one than by a factory. Deborah Kesten, a nutrition educator and public health expert, wrote a book about food called "Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul." She claims the sacred awareness we bring to our food cycle is as important as the vitamins and minerals. The processes and techniques involved in the growing, picking, cooking and eating affect our health, our psyches, and our souls.
To be truly nourishing, food must be properly prepared. It's probably too difficult to make your own bread from raw wheat kernels or concoct your own mayonnaise from eggs and oil or to kill and butcher a turkey with proper respect, but there are still ways to make a healthy sandwich by paying attention to the thoughts you have as you make it.
First, take a deep breath. Let it out slow. Relax. Don't think about the family hassles you ran into last Thursday. This is a sandwich you're making. Let it be the most important thing in your life at this instant. Lay out the bread slices reverently. Get a large glob of translucent white mayonnaise. Admire the texture and color before spreading it gracefully across the bread. Now pull off the tin foil and lay down a few slabs of turkey meat. Concentrate! Don't think about Aunt Maureen contradicting herself saying, "You need to lose some weight" as she handed you a giant plate of leftover turkey hunks. It's her particular way of caring and will never change. Besides, you won't see her again until Christmas dinner. Along with another turkey.
Look at the counter and admire your cozy handiwork. Light brown slices lying on a blanket of white atop a spongy bread mattress. Let your worries rest as you spice the sandwich with salt and pepper. Breathe deeply and savor the aroma. Enjoy the making of a masterpiece. Spruce it up with some slices of tomato or onion or pickles. Use all three or add your own favorite adornments. There's no hurry. Enjoy the process involved in preparing your lunch. Finally, lay on a leaf of lettuce, cap the sandwich with another slab of soft bread slathered with mayo or Miracle Whip or sweet-hot mustard.
Wait! Not yet. Now pour yourself a beverage. Milk is good with turkey. You don't need a scotch because you're NOT thinking about how in the eyes of your relatives you'll never measure up to the accomplishments of your super-model, physicist, Pulitzer/Oscar/Nobel winner cousin Sheila. If you want a soda or beer, don't drink out of the can and spoil the ambiance. Pour it into a glass so you can see the fine color and watch the bubbles bumping, shoving, striving to reach the sun. That's the spirit.
Sit down to enjoy your meal. Just eat. Try to pick out each different flavor and smell. Become an eating machine, salivating and masticating in ecstasy. If you still can't clear your mind, try this Zen koan: What is the sound of one tongue tasting?
Relax. Breathe. Eat. Let the sandwich feed your body. Let the ecstasy of peaceful eating nourish your soul.
Done? Okay, now you can come back to earth, and think about your job, Christmas, another family dinner. Maybe pour yourself that scotch. At least now you're ruining your health consciously.