DAAJI share some simple tips on eating well for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. These ideas also can solve humanity’s issues of food security, the environment, and how we re-establish our relationship with planet Earth.
This century, we have finally woken up to the destruction of our environment and the inequality in the circumstances of people around the world. Nowhere has this been highlighted more than in our relationship with food. While many people suffer from malnourishment, others suffer from chronic lifestyle diseases associated with overeating or eating unhealthy foods. Food security has become a major issue, and according to the FAO, we waste roughly 1.4 billion tons of food every year.
The approach of yogis to food is shared by wise sages across all cultures and all eras. Their approach is the same for all resources. They give special regard to eating wisely, treading lightly on the Earth, and taking minimum input and giving maximum output. Morality is seen as care and conservation in the use of resources, including food, water, money, land, sexual energy, forests, the ocean etc.
Food is a form of prana, a source of energy. The physical body is associated with the sheath known as the annamaya kosha, translated as “the food sheath,” but the effect of food percolates through all three bodies of the human system, not just the physical body. And when food is charged by prayer, food becomes a potent source of goodness.
True happiness is a quality of the soul, emanating from the Center of our being, which radiates outward through the layers of our system, purifying the physical levels of existence. The current flows out from the Center, and also back to the Center. So when food is received with the right understanding and eaten with the correct attitude, it can nourish and support us at all levels back to the Center.
Food is part of our energetic relationship with the environment, and a wise person will not disturb even one atom of this universe unless it is necessary, because of their respect for all life. Nothing is wasted. This creates the lightest human footprint, and a sacred attitude to living every moment of every day in tune with Nature.
Thus, a wise person is happy to eat whatever food is available, without the need for exotic foods or foods chosen for their delectable taste. They are content with Nature’s bounty in whatever form it is available. This is explained beautifully in Babuji’s Principle 8, which you can read about in more detail in “Happiness, Food, and Resources.”
Principle 8 is:
Be happy to eat in constant divine thought whatever you get,
with due regard to honest and pious earnings.
This attitude is lacking in most modern societies. In fact, fast food, processed foods, desire-based eating, and takeaway meals have taken us in the opposite direction.
Food in daily life
Food is an important part the day for most of us. As well as contributing to our happiness and well-being, it provides an opportunity to share that happiness with others, through regular family meals, special events, and holidays like Christmas, Diwali, Eid, and Hannukah. Food is a way of bonding, and is much more than giving chemical nutrients to the body.
Principle 8 asks us to “be happy to eat in constant divine thought.” In many cultures, this is done by praying or saying Grace before eating. This practice connects us with the Divine at the beginning of the meal, so that we will continue to hold that connection while we are eating. By doing so, we activate the divine current from the Center that is also present in every atom of the food we will eat. When the prana in the food comes into contact with our thought, the effect of those vibrations filters down into the food itself. When it enters our body, the vibrations spread throughout our system as the channels of prana open up, allowing the happiness with which the food is charged to enter, and the atoms of our body are purified. This benefits our overall well-being. Our expansion of consciousness is also accelerated, as the prana in the food is connected with the Center.
It’s important to take care of where food has come from and how we pay for it. Even the purest food bought with dishonest earnings will carry a different vibration. When we consume food bought with wrong earnings, the vibrations become heavier and more complex, so wise people have always put a lot of value on honest and pious earnings.
Eating is sacred
This principle awakens us to the idea that even worldly activities like eating will either contribute to the purity of our system and expand our consciousness or take us in the other direction. Babuji describes it thus:
Food should be cooked neatly and cleanly in a proper manner.
That is the hygienic point, but if it is sattvik and is cooked in constant remembrance of God,
its effect will be surprising.
And if it is taken meditating all the while on God,
it will cure all kinds of spiritual diseases
and remove things which hinder our progress.
Until the middle of last century, there was a scarcity of food, which is still the case today in many parts of the world. With the invention of processed food, scarcity was removed from the prosperous nations, but the result is that food has now become a major cause of disease. According to the WHO, close to 40% of people in the world are overweight. The main causes are overeating, poor nutritional quality, and the way we eat. In conjunction with inadequate exercise and high stress, the result is ill-health.
Emotional eating leads to overeating, as we compensate for feelings of lack and low self-esteem. We eat because of anxiety and stress. We unconsciously put on weight because of childhood trauma, to protect ourselves. These imbalances can be addressed through Principle8 in conjunction with the self-awareness and transformation that develops through meditative practices.
Many people adopt a plant-based diet after understanding how different types of food impact health, and because of the way animal farming is destroying the environment. Yogis add another perspective: Consciousness is present in the energy field of food, and animals have a different level of consciousness than plants. The yogic science of the three bodies of minerals, plants, animals, and humans helps us understand why it is beneficial to eat lighter sattvik foods for spiritual evolution. Animal foods are much heavier in vibration, so spiritual practitioners often choose to be vegetarian so that they maintain lightness in their system.
Principle 8 is about how we earn, how that money is utilized to buy food, how the food is cooked, how it is eaten, and what we do after eating. Many of us pray before eating, but what happens during the meal, and after the meal? How do we assimilate the food? Just as meditation in the morning is the beginning of assimilating the meditative state for the day, so eating a meal is the beginning of assimilating the food given in that meal.
While eating, try to remain connected with your Center
to bring happiness to the meal.
So here are some simple suggestions to incorporate into your daily routine:
- Purchase your food with honest, pure earnings. If you grow your own food, send loving happy thoughts to the plants as they are growing.
- While preparing and cooking food, be conscious of the sanctity of the food, with loving, pure, and happy thoughts. The easiest away to do this is to connect with the Center of your being through your heart.
- While eating, try to remain connected with your Center to bring happiness to the meal.
- When you have finished eating, close your eyes for half a minute and remain connected with your Center. Truly be grateful from the bottom of your heart for the meal, and for all who served you. If you are in a restaurant be thankful to the chefs and the waiters. It is easy to give a tip, but it is rare to give such blessings from the heart. It will touch them at some level. It is a very powerful moment once you have finished eating in divine remembrance, grateful for everything that has happened.
With practice, you will discover that Principle 8 works on many levels.
Illustrations by JASMEE MUDGAL
Kamlesh Patel is known to many as Daaji. He is the Heartfulness Guide in a tradition of Yoga meditation that is over 100 years old, overseeing 14,000 certified Heartfulness trainers and many volunteers in over 130 countries. He is an innovator and researcher, equally at home in the fields of spirituality and science, blending the... Read more