“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life…” Melody Beattie
“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.” Albert Einstein
This was a big weekend of friends and family for me. In addition to Mother’s Day, it was my best friend’s birthday and her son’s 8th grade dance, as well as graduation at my partner’s university. Lots of occasions to think about both the ties that bind and the time that passes. Cooking dinners for Mom’s visit with us as well as going to a delicious brunch, reminded me yet again of the tradition and ritual of saying grace before a meal.
Having been raised in a devoutly Christian home, saying grace and giving thanks before a meal was what we did. Acknowledging the gifts that God had given us and asking for blessings for “the hands that prepared the food” and that we be nourished by what was on the plate and that in turn we bless others because of that sustenance was the ritual that began our family dinners.
For a long time, I left that behind, but I find that I am bringing grace back in my own way to each meal I eat, and the meal is the more satisfying and nourishing for it. It’s something I encourage my clients to do as well, in our endeavor to enjoy our food more.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that with the world at our fingertips now more than ever, we are nevertheless starved for deep connection. And that this lack of connection leads us to seek creature comforts and false pleasure or numb out in all sorts of unsustainable ways – drugs, alcohol, food that is far from real and nourishing, overwork, Netflix, etc.
And so, one of my personal remedies which I offer to you is the gift of both the ritual and connection of giving thanks for the food that you eat and to allow your vision and imagination to extend to ALL the hands of people and nature that have had even the smallest role in what you are receiving as well as however you conceive of the source of it all. This is where the interconnectedness that yogic practices seek to teach can become imminently practical.
One of the insights that is continuing to resonate with me post silent retreat is that we are the meaning-makers of our lives. Things, in and of themselves, don’t have inherent meaning – think of a bunch of guys running up and down a “basketball court” doing the things that they do…we made it up and a certain group of people decided to make it mean something really important to them. We impute our meaning and much of the time it is unconscious and not particularly uplifting.
So, I can make a rich and uplifting meaning, simply because it feels like true joy to do so. In a single meal, I can pause, remember, feel connected with, give thanks to and ask that blessings be given to:
Publishers and Internet People
Farmers and Fishers
Those who run farmers markets
People that manufacture my cookware and appliances
Grocery Store Workers
Me or whoever prepared the food
The nursery workers that advise us on how to grow what we grow
My ex-mother-in-law who inspired me to take up cooking
Whoever is enjoying the meal with me
Mom, for teaching me to pray
This really does turn a meal into a feast and a stranger into a friend. And it increases my awareness of and helps me improve the quality of what is on my plate as I feel what I am connecting to. Plus, the time this takes serves a practical biological purpose of priming the digestive fires for more optimal use.
I encourage you to take this on as practice and see how it enhances your sense of pleasure and well-being!
May your days be truly delicious and satisfying!
Hi! I’m Laura Jarrait and I work with women who adore good food but feel like it’s running or ruining their lives. They don’t want to diet or quit socializing around food but are tired of feeling less than their best and guilty, obsessive, or confused about what they eat. I help them keep the pleasure and drop the stressful thinking and extra weight, so they feel confident, light and free — all without ending their love affair with food!
I would be thrilled to help you do the same! Get my free Beautiful You guide that teaches YOU how to eat with pleasure and thrive at your natural weight or learn more about how I can support you in your eating, body love, and weight-loss goals.