The Zen of Cooking

Did you ever feel in the zone while cooking? If so, you were experiencing the zen of cooking! But for many of us, even when we make the time, finding the energy to cook everyday is difficult, because when we have just done a day’s work, the idea of having to stand in the kitchen doing more ‘work’, is not that attractive.

If this resonates with you, then see if you can turn your time in the kitchen into something which nourishes you and restores your energy, rather than drains you. Cooking can be very therapeutic, if you do it in the right way. It may not always be possible, but if you can, on difficult days, have your partner look after the children while you cook. Close the kitchen door and tell your family not to disturb you. Forget multi-tasking and allow yourself to concentrate solely on just one thing, the task of cooking a meal. I find it helps to create a nice ambience for yourself. Remember a happy cook is a good cook!

Sometimes I like the ambience of silence, when I am feeling bruised and sore from the noise of the world. But you don't need silence to feel the zen of cooking. Sometimes, I want to hear music to help me relax and find the calm place within me, like the Bach cantatas, Verdi's requiem, Satie, or my CD of funky Buddhist mantras. Othertimes, I want the lazy, sunny, good-time feel of Congolese rhumba, which makes me feel happy, or when I’m feeling upbeat, African or South Seas music, some A3, some early Van, or the late, great Dr. Simone. Having your cooking music on tap is another way of equipping your kitchen for a pleasant cooking experience.

Creating your psychic cooking space is as important as your physical one. During a difficult time in my life, when Fortune’s slings and arrows were coming at me hard and all was disorder, trauma and upheaval, I used cooking-time as ‘time out’ for myself. I came to really look forward to that slot in my day when I could put to one side, all the problems I was dealing with, turn off the ‘worry switch’ and just cook. I became so engrossed in what I was doing that I forgot everything else. I became calm and focused and my mind rested. I was experiencing the zen of cooking.

Any activity can become a meditation, be it archery, motor-cycle maintenance, calligraphy, flower-arranging, walking by the sea, sitting cross-legged repeating a mantra……so why not cooking? If you are a stressed-out working mother, I doubt you have much time for walking by the sea, calligraphy, or cross-legged meditation. But cooking is something you have to do each day and if you can use that time to feed your spirit and rest your mind, you will be multiplying the benefits you reap from your kitchen labours.

So when the world beyond your kitchen is in chaos, you can create a zen-filled oasis, where chaos does not reign. In the kitchen, we can create harmony, order, wellness, the antithesis of everything in our lives that stresses and exhausts us. Instead of chaos, we can make an oasis of creativity. Kitchen-time can become me-time, during which we nourish and repair our spirits, as we cook and regroup our energies for the next battle we have to fight. Just as eating home-cooked food can be a ritual that grounds our children, we can make the cooking of it a ritual that grounds us.

Understanding that we can experience the zen of cooking is like a self-fulfilling prophesy---the more we are aware of this possibility, the more it works this way. When we are resentful about having to cook and allow the stresses of the day leak into our cooking time, we become even more depleted. When we throw a ring around our cooking time, and think of it as sacred time, we ‘enter the zone’ and it becomes a special ritual that we can look forward to every day.

How cooking gives us psychic nourishment.

Healthy Eating and the Alexander Technique.

Try a Zen of Cooking meditation.

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Remember! Healthy eating is enjoyable!

Blessings on your table!

The Good Food Angel.


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