If you are what you eat, you should definitely avoid chopped liver, waffles and all forms of nuts. Yet we are….what we eat, just as we are what we think. We eat our histories, live our intentions, and create our futures with each thought, word and meal.
Wendell Berry wrote, “I eat my history day by day. Bird, butterfly, and flower pass through the seasons of my flesh.” This is true for all of us. When you eat with love, what’s grown with love, prepared with love and served with love, you feel more nourished, revitalized, satisfied, balanced and loved. Thanksgiving meals are an awesome time for gratitude, to remember the goodness of the earth and all our many connections. We consume earth’s food to give us strength to serve the earth and everything in it.
This is a meditation to nurture gratitude around food, and to be mindful of the journey of various ingredients to your plate.
Quiet your mind and bring your full attention to this moment. Begin with awareness; of your body, your breath and your surroundings. Become as relaxed as possible knowing that in this moment you are part of life energy that is larger than you and yet deeply present within you and in the earth and in every living thing.
Let your senses take in the beauty of the moment; the awesome potential, the surprising symmetry, the glorious oneness of life. Life is an incredible miracle and you have the privilege of participating and co-creating the future. Focus on gratitude, for all this and more. In Spring nature rolled out a red carpet with its own designer labels of new color and spectacular growth. Now is time for the Harvest. Feel the gratitude. Feed the gratitude before you feed your body. Gratitude is to the spirit what food is to the body; it nourishes and regenerates.
Imagine yourself the host at a Thanksgiving feast. The sun is splashing patterns of light on the table. Give thanks for the sunshine, earth and rain that helps grow the food that makes your feast possible. Give thanks for the plants and animals that provide your nourishment. Give thanks for the seasons that make growth and harvest possible. Give thanks for good company and for the love that connects us all. Breathe in deeply and feel your connection to ALL THAT IS.
Allow yourself to drop deeply into this scene until you truly feel you are there. Imagine that you are greeting all the objects of your gratitude at the feast table. Local farmers and bakers are arriving, bringing their seasonal goodies. Friends are arriving with home cooked dishes. Children are skipping around the table. The people who have prepared, packaged and processed your food are now arriving. Greet them all warmly. Include the local store owners and cashiers. The homeless and hungry are also arriving for they too are part of your compassionate consciousness.
The table is ready and all the participants are here. Notice the way you feel about this feast. Notice the aromas. Feel the energy. Are you feeling pangs of hunger and anticipation? Are you feeling profound gratitude for all those who make your life and health possible?
Call all your guests together around the table and join hands in friendship, grace and gratitude before you sit down to eat. Notice the abundance at your table; love, food, friendship, warmth, shelter, peaceful hearts, good conversation. This feast is a gift of the soil and the air; the ricefield, the vegetable garden, the beans sown in the soil, an apple orchard, a tomato garden, the bees and butterflies flying from flower to flower. Every part of the universe has participated in this feast and is part of your nourishment.
Is your heart full of gratitude and joy? As you eat the feast, let it nourish your consciousness that all is related and let it feed your compassion for those who don’t have enough to eat. Every bite nourishes you and reminds you of your ancestors and your descendants, who live in you. As you eat with full awareness, feel the compassion, freedom and joy.
Now you have finished the meal and said goodbye to friends. Bathed in light and love, you are ready to return to this here and now reality. Focus your awareness back in the present. Feel your feet grounded on the floor and gently open your eyes. Offer love and blessings to all as you go about your day in greater awareness and gratitude for the great web of collaboration that makes life possible.
Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, described it like this:
In this food I see clearly the presence of the entire universe supporting my existence.
Looking at the Filled Plate
All living beings are struggling for life. May they all have enough food to eat today.
Just Before Eating
The plate is filled with food. I am aware that each morsel is the fruit of much hard work by those who produced it.
Beginning to Eat
With the first taste, I promise to practice loving kindness. With the second, I promise to relieve the suffering of others. With the third, I promise to see others’ joy as my own. With the fourth, I promise to learn the way of non-attachment and equanimity.
Finishing the Meal
The plate is empty. My hunger is satisfied. I vow to live for the benefit of all beings.
Happy Thanksgiving! Many blessings on your meals, your friends, your family, the earth, the hungry and all living beings. May peace and compassion fill the earth and may it begin with each one of us living in gratitude.