How to Live with Consciousness
Consciousness determines the quality of your life. If you go though your life only vaguely aware of what is happening, how it is happening and why it is happening to you, you may miss the opportunity to be happy and to experience success.
In Vedic times, the teachers of human nature taught us to look at ourselves as a pattern of vibrations, a seamless energetic system whose point of initiation is cosmic consciousness. They believed that the intelligence that underlies the universe resides in us all. They were unlike modern teachers of human nature: they did not consider us the product of our upbringing or of our genetic makeup. Instead of having nature vs. nurture debates, they were of the mind (read: simply decided) that you as a human being are limitless and any sense of limitation would cause you harm.
In modern times, quantum physicists are returning to this age old notion. They define the human body as the embodiement of pure potentiality. And in an age when faith has been long lost for most people, they don't require you to believe, but provide evidence instead.
The Four Horses
There is a story, in a book I read, about four horses. It is maybe not closely related to this topic, but I feel it is in some way related. I'm sharing it because it gives me great comfort whenever I encounter a situation that takes away power from me.
The book is about Zen meditation and so the story is also about Zen meditation. However, I feel that its teaching can be extended to other areas of life as well. The story deals with the question that some people may find it difficult to sit in the full lotus posture - which is a requirement of Zen practice, - that is, in a way where your left foot is placed on your right thigh and your right foot is placed on your left thigh.
It is said that there are four kinds of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones and bad ones.
The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left at the driver's will before it sees the shadow of the whip. The second best will run as well as the first one does just before the whip reaches its skin. The third one will run when it feels pain on its body. The fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones.
You can imagine how difficult it is for the fourth one to learn how to run.
When we hear this story we all want to be the best horse. If we can't be the best horse we want to be the second best. We think this is the moral of the story that speaks to us about the purpose of Zen. We may think that as we practice Zen meditation, we will find out whether we are one of the best horses or one of the worst ones. Here, however, there is a misunderstanding.
If you think the purpose of Zen practice is to make you one of the best horses, you will have a big problem, as this is not the right understanding. If you practice Zen the right way, it does not matter whether you are the best horse or the worst one.
you are determined to practice Zen with consciousness,
you will find the worst horse is the most valuable one. For in your
very imperfections is the basis for your firm way-seeking mind. Those
who find no difficulty in sitting perfectly physically will have difficulty finding the true way of Zen. But those who
find great difficulty in practising Zen will find more meaning in it. So
sometimes the best horse may be the worst horse and the worst horse may
be the best one. If you meditate on this for a while, you will find how
true it is. And when you encounter difficulties in your life, you may remember that here you have a big opportunity to truly learn something.
Since most people will not believe in anything that they cannot see, hear, feel or smell, in a attempt to defy them, to illustrate how applying consciousness to the most fundamental aspects of our daily lives can greatly affect us in a beneficial way and can turn our lives around, I have chosen an area where it becomes most apparent, what's more undeniable, that we are what we cannot see, hear, feel or smell, that is the embodiment of life energy. This area is metabolism, the process that constantly converts matter into energy and energy into matter within our human body.
In other words, we will now look at how your conscious choices can enhance your dining experience and improve your life. In many ways.
According to Vedic sages, food is a matter that conveys energy to body, mind and spirit. They thought of food not as biochemical building blocks of our body, but rather as packets of information, couriers of universal intelligence and transporters of life-energy. For this reason, it was essentially important to them to take food in a conscious way. Taking food in a conscious way involves being fully aware of what we eat, why we eat it and how we eat it.
What to eat
When we choose what foods to eat we should choose the ones that carry the biggest amount of life-energy. The following should be taken into account:
- The freshest food carries the most life-energy.
- The longer the food has been stored the more of its energy has been lost.
- Processed foods are dead entirely.
- Food molecules are meant to fit naturally into our body, so eating organic food is recommended, eating genetically modified food is not recommended.
- The cook's consciousness plays a part in the health-giving quality of the food. The loving and attentive hands of a person who has a deep desire for the well-being of the recipient of the meal makes a huge difference.
How, when and why to eat
Gaining awareness of how, when and why we eat can go a long way optimizing our digestion and helping us attain a balanced state of harmony in life.
Processing what we eat involves the following four steps: ingestion, digestion, assimilation and elimination.
To optimize this process take into account the following:
- Food feeds the cells in the body, but it is the full sensory experience of eating that enlivens the physiology:
The metabolic process begins before we put any food into our mouth. Indeed, it begins when we look at the food or when we merely think of it. Sighting, smelling and tasting food begins a cascade of reactions in the body. Our sensory awareness stimulates nerve receptors that send a message to the brain. The brain then mobilizes the digestive organs and the intestines.
- Awareness is the spark that lights up the digestive fire. It prepares the whole system for the event:
Eating puts us in a relationship with the food we consume. The mind must attend to the food that the body ingests if we are to gain anything meaningful from the interaction. If you engage in inattentive eating, your digestive fire will be squelched and you'll have problems in your metabolism.
- As we realize that the physical body is the vessel of the spirit, the mundane task of eating takes on a deeper meaning. How we eat becomes as important as what we eat, it almost becomes a sacred ritual:
Conventionally, a nice table setting is just fine to eat our meals. Gobbling food as we jolt down the street or while racing somewhere in our car, however, is pretty much not fine. The environment we are in while consuming our food should enhance relaxation. Argumentation, work, reading, writing or watching TV should all be avoided while we eat. They make it impossible to focus on the food and the experience of eating.
Here are a few other things to be consciously aware of when considering to eat something.
- Sitting down while you eat helps your digestive system. It informs your mind you are ready to focus on the food you are eating rather then many other things.
- A big meal in the belly before going to bed often means a wakeful night. While sleeping your body is doing a myriad of things to prepare you for the next day of your life, each of which is more important than digestion.
- Eating can trigger the happy you. Still, it is not advisable to engage in emotional eating. Eat when you are hungry.
- Leave some breathing space for your body to sustain the digestive fire. Oxygen play a wonderful role in the metabolic process. Eat only to 75 percent full.
- Digesting a meal takes between 3 to 6 hours. Do not eat until the previous meal has been digested.
- Being a creature of nature, you should live in sync with the cycles of nature. Your digestive fire burns strongest when the sun is highest in the sky. Make lunch the biggest meal of the day.
- Digestive enzymes function best at body temperature and in a narrow pH range. Do not drink iced drinks or carbonated beverages while eating or digesting food as these tend to cool the body and change its pH.
- Provide our enzymes with a big surface area of digestible food particles by chewing your meal well.
- Although, raw foods are highest in their nutritional value, they are also the most difficult to digest. Avoid raw foods in big quantities at a time.
Read the bodily signs
Your body is constantly sending you messages about its current state. When we feel hungry we tend to reach for a snack without thinking. Here, however, there is a problem that is at the root of our health issues.
Your body is actually telling you more than what you pay attention to. When you feel hungry your body is telling so three distinct things:
- You are hungry.
- Your body is ready to digest the food you're about to take. OR It is not quite ready.
- Your body needs a specific type of food.
The feeling of hunger is apparent, but it is not quite so apparent if your body is ready to take and digest food at the time of feeling that hunger. However, if you pay close attention to the signs and messages your body is sending you, you should be able to tell if you can eat a big, heavy meal or you'd rather have to choose some lighter food.
Considering the third question is even more difficult. It involves deciding whether your feeling hungry is the sign of some biological need or the sign of bodily desire. Because your body will from time to time desire things it doesn't need. A good rule of thumb to follow is to check whether you desire a specifict type of food such as pastry, ice cream or potato chips, or you simply desire food that has a specifict taste such as sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter or astringent.
- If you crave food in a specific taste you should go ahead and eat something health in that taste.
- If you crave a specific type of food such as chocolate, you should restrain from eating that food. Instead, you should choose a healthy alternative in sweet taste.
Our body is the product of our habits. If we have bad habits our body will suffer in various ways and it will not be healthy. As happiness is the byproduct of health, we cannot truly experience it in an unhealthy body.
- Self Examination
Nadia Azhar teaches us that consciousness underlies body, mind and spirit. She understands that consciousness is the intelligence that guides nature and that it is the basis of everything in the universe.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to do the things you do most consciously in life. It is true not only for eating, but also for everything else such as relating to others. You are a creature of habit and as such you tend to do what you always do, regardless of its impact on your body, mind and spirit. Gaining awareness of what you are doing and if it's good for you or not can go a long way changing your life for the better. And that's what we all want.
The time of hopes and dreams is long gone. Wake up and take action!
The advice found here is taken from the best book I have ever read on holistic health improvement. Although, it is geared towards helping people with different types of depression, it goes much further than that. It shows the path for anyone to a life of health, harmony and joy.