You’re lying in bed at night, trying to fall asleep. As you start to doze off, you are overcome with an incredible feeling. You can’t quite put your finger on it. Did you turn off the oven after dinner? No, that’s not it. Did you prepare the coffee for tomorrow? Yes, so that’s not it. That report for work…did you forget something? No, you went over it three times, so that’s not it. You feel like the room is closing in. Something is definitely wrong. You’re having trouble breathing and you can feel your blood pressure rising. Then it hits you…
…the stress that’s been building slowly, from everyday pressures, has finally got to you; you’re having a panic attack.
Life is busy, and those events and pressures create stress that has a negative effect on your mind and body. Job performance, relationships, children, schedules, traffic congestion, money problems, illness, and interactions with negative people all contribute to your stress. You’ve got to reduce the amount of stress in your life to be healthy. So what can you do?
Meditation is a wonderful long term solution to reducing stress. Meditation promotes relaxation, gives you a sense of well-being, peace and calm, and a clear the mind. It also can help ease health concerns. It helps you restore your mental equilibrium and balance. But how do you fit in another activity into your already busy life? You can combine meditation with a very basic, everyday activity that is essential to your needs, and that activity is cooking. There are many forms and levels of meditation. Start out with the enjoyment of a simple task and work your way up to the Loving-Kindness level.
- Simple Tasks Encourage Peace
One of the most basic forms of meditation is finding peace and enjoyment in simple daily tasks. Cooking is a simple daily task. You can also attempt complex recipes to give yourself more practice at both cooking and meditation. Easy soups and casseroles now become a peace-enriched event. Soak up even more peace by trying a more in-depth recipe by extending your experience in the kitchen.
- Silent Reflection
Silent reflection is a great way to get in touch with your emotions and thoughts. If you let your mind wander, there are many realizations and epiphanies that you can allow yourself to acknowledge. Cooking is a great place to let your mind wander as you perform the simple tasks, and be aware of where your thoughts take you.
- Therapeutic Relaxation through Repetition
Repetition is relaxing and therapeutic by focusing only on the task at hand. Cooking is full of repetitive action, from cutting, to peeling, to stirring, to grating, to mixing, and much more.
Merrium-Webster defines Mindfulness as: 1. the quality or state of being mindful 2. the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also: such a state of awareness. Cooking is a great activity in which to practice Mindfulness. Be present in the moment to take in the sensory information of the food you are cooking. The smells, the colors, the tastes, the feeling of the food, and the sounds are all senses to be aware of. What emotions do these experiences evoke? What thoughts do they bring to mind? Be aware of these emotions and thoughts, and acknowledge them.
- Loving-Kindness Meditation
The Loving-Kindness level of meditation takes the most focus and attention. You may need to work up to this level before you attempt it. You must develop a love for yourself first, and then work toward others. Infuse the food with love and kindness by actively reflecting on yourself or the loved ones you are cooking for as you cook. Love is the secret ingredient of the tastiest dishes, after all! Typically, you would visualize yourself or your loved ones smiling at you, and feeling happy. Visualization is just one form of the Loving-Kindness Meditation. To incorporate this into cooking, visualize yourself or your loved ones smiling and happy as they (or you) eat the food you have prepared.
So what will you cook to help you relieve your stress?
Crystal is the founder of Simply Playful Fare, a food blog with an emphasis on cooking from scratch and a twist of humor. She’s a native Montanan who loves to create. She has always been passionate about cooking, baking, and eating, and food has been a huge part of her family. She learned how to cook from her Grandmother (who learned to cook from her French Grandmother) and her Mother. Writing is her other passion, after her husband of course. She has a degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing.