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For some, more and more, it seems, we may find ourselves dealing with anxiety and depression. In my personal experience, I know many who have struggled with depression. I now understand that I have dealt with these symptoms at different points in my life. It is a time when we are not aware of our personal struggle. Depression and anxiety cloud our sensory intake.
I am reminded of this after learning of Kate Spade's suicide. I recall reading about her life in a fun coffee table book about Napa we received as a gift. It showed a decadently wealthy family with a fun lifestyle, including summers in Napa Valley. I've always admire her designs and thought the whimsy and clever preppy-vibe was spirited.
When we consider the malalignment of the lifestyle and the outcome of the end of her life, we see the lack of balance in mind, body, and spirit. Offering a practice for each area of our life enables us to feel our bodies and manage symptoms as they come forward. Anxiety and depression present symptoms which are confusing to self-diagnose. The best course of action to be self-aware, is to be social and be receptive to the body and verbal language of those responding to you.
Being social is the beginnings of self development activities. Studies show that being social can alleviate and prevent feelings of despair. Connectivity to our community literally brings vitality into our daily experience. Humans are not meant to be solitary. We thrive in social environments and are supported by the energy of others.
Continuing our self-development through self-care practices of attending group lessons of exercise, academics, or being part of a group adds tour personal identity and gives depth to your daily routine. This adds a life force through others and creates a life of social dynamic and a sensibility with others in your community. Fostering empathy and feelings of peace and contentment, we may experience optimum performance in our brains. The hypothalamus is stimulated by feelings of peace and calm, allowing our thyroid and pineal glands to calibrate hormones in our blood flow.
Easing the labor of these important hormone releasing glands protects the good function of these parts of your body. All initiated from external stimulation developed over time into daily feelings of harmony. Quite literally, harmonizing the body, mind, and spirit with this action. Adding simple practices like self awareness can affect our peace of mind, and create a ripple effect to improve our overall health. Mental health continues to reflect a response to our environment and culture.
With self-care practices like self-awareness, we become better capable to interact in our communities. Adding daily yoga to self-care, allows us to stimulate organs with a perfect practice and will modulate normal hormone flow. Adding these truths to your routine may establish balance to your daily experience and improve how you feel.
Do you practice the communal connectivity of your personal mind, body, and spirit? Creating a kitchen space to express your own relationship with ingredients and the earth will enhance awareness. Mindfulness in the kitchen creates a ripple effect through our bodies, which feeds our minds. The practice of mindfulness stimulates our spirit, bringing direct connectivity to the earth through the food we eat and the bodies in which we reside.
Kitchen Sadhana practice includes our own expression of these 8 personal values of being:
- Spatial Awareness (especially helpful for grown ups to express this and orient children (sub-consciously) to this in their own development
Creating a special kitchen space that is welcoming and comfortable is the beginning of being mindful in our own bodies. A space with enough room, which is well appointed and orderly invites others to be a part of things. The kitchen is a home space for so many pleasantries of conversation, catching up, and family gatherings. We also do work, homework, and play games in our kitchens. Decisions about school, work, life, summer and holiday plans are made. Life is designed from a welcoming space.
A lack of hospitality brings forth negativity, solitude, disconnectedness, and may lead to stagnant energy in the kitchen.
Cleanliness & Freshness
Clear, clean spaces create a fresh feeling. Energy is flowing in a clean and fresh kitchen. Vitality exudes from cleanliness and freshness. Kitchens can be too clean sometimes, but this is, generally, not the case. Kitchens contain much work during the day and a space of incredible activity.
Tidying up after every meal will facilitate good energetic flow and also minimize bacteria growth in and around food preparation areas. Simple habits of appreciating cleanliness and freshness is generally all you need to keep your kitchen maintained. Taking 10 minutes to clean dishes and tidy counters, table, and floors can be all you really need (depending upon the mess). If it takes longer than 10 minutes, well, you may find that after 10 minutes, you just keep going until it is complete.
Learning the tricks of the trade in food preparation minimizes the time it takes to clean up. Enjoy a cooking lesson with a Kitchen Sadhana consultation, take a group cooking class, or watch a simple cooking show to learn some handy tricks for meal prep. Take a few hours daily to spend time in the kitchen. These are precious hours to prepare food that becomes YOU. If you don't have time to do this every day, then try every other day. You can reheat food that you prepare for a few days.
Abundance & Generosity
These go together. For when we see our kitchen in the light of abundance, we are able to be generous in our kitchen. The Vedic texts outlined sharing food always generously. If we have food, we have enough to share. From our kitchens, we may share meals with family and friends. We can apply this lesson to other ways of sharing with our community and our world.
Abundance of ingredients is known when we eat with the seasons. Seasonal ingredients teach us about how to be intimate with the Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall. To eat the Earth's harvest in Spring, for example, means to eat strawberries in many different ways to celebrate this time of our calendar. We may experience feelings of "delicious" to "sweet" to "tangy in the beginning of the season. Toward the end of the season, we may feel sensations of being fatigued with the abundance.
During these times of late season, we may explore preserving Spring's ingredients to save for a future indulgence. The abundance of the peak or late season lends to a natural generosity and feelings of wealth. This is wonderful place from which to work, as these feelings are cyclical and can ripple into your social circles.
I have had the opportunity to work with people from varying backgrounds and education. I have worked in kitchens and in leadership capacity. I have learned when I ask two people to do the same thing, I discover the process taken to complete the task is unique to each person. Spatial awareness is a kitchen skill that is tremendously important in professional kitchens. Most commercial kitchen spaces are cozy and any random move or accident can cause injury to a co-worker. Being respectful of your own space is where safety begins.
Being spatially aware in the kitchen is a practical developmental life skill which is perfect to hone as a child working in the kitchen. Grace and personal awareness fosters great style, which can be developed while preparing meals and tidying up. Sensitivity to the yourself in your own surroundings is important to our development, as cited by Sian Eckersley in the Occupational Therapy for Children blog --
Being Attractive & Healthy
In nature, beautiful examples of life are chosen first for procreation. It is in our hormones to seek mates who we are naturally attracted to. It is proven cross-culturally that attractive humans tend to be happier and have more rewarding life experiences. Attractive plants tend to be lush and vibrant with perfect leaves and blossoms. In humans, attractiveness is subjective. However, what is important is the overall body fitness and healthy appearance. This is a language from your body that you are vital and full of life.
Healthy folks will have a healthy clear sheen in skin and hair appearance. Eyes are clear and whites are white. Teeth are clean and gums are not inflamed. A little fat and plump collagen in the face also exudes a healthy glow of happiness and life balance. Toned muscles and visible appearance of fitness in the limbs shows enough movement in daily exercise.
Establishing a Kitchen Sadhana practice fosters healthy thoughtful food intake. With a balance of mind, body, and spirit practice in the kitchen, this will set a tone with others who take part in being in the kitchen. Creating a joyful space for preparing meals and the host of other activities is a powerful way to cultivate process in our lives.
You may be the kitchen leader. The one who makes all of the meals. You may work with a partner or loved on equally. Others may also be involved in kitchen preparation. Whether children, friends, or elders are in the kitchen with you, learning about food and life is constant. Hearing a good story about the day or discovering a new recipe to try, offers an opportunity to articulate our thoughts and feelings. Share your space generously and discover the connected feelings of community begin in the home environment.
This is the beginning activities of rippling positive energy into the world. Approaching life toward connectedness will foster relational growth and connect us closer to healing confusion, ignorance, and isolation in the world. May the kitchen be a place of peace and contentment offering nourishment to others.