How The Food You Eat Affects Your Mind
How The Food You Eat Affects Your Mind? Food provides our bodies with nutrients and influences how we feel and think.
Spiritual practices – be it prayer, meditation or yoga, were always accompanied by dietary guidelines aimed at supporting and allowing the best possible results of these practices.
The History of Food And Mind Connection
If we look back, the history of connecting spiritual practices with nutrition guidelines, it all goes back to:
- a dietary code of the people of Israel (as described in the Bible)
- the Vinaya code of the Buddhist order
- the dietary restrictions of yoga practitioners in India
- special diets by the Shamans in the Amazon.
It was known for millennia by the great sages of all traditions that what you eat will directly affect your state of mind and the depth of your spiritual practice.
A Deeper Look Into The Yogic Tradition:
In the Yogic tradition, food was categorized into three groups. According to three Gunas (tendencies) that exist in the universe, we could find:
- Tamas – The heavy, dulling foods causing inertia and laziness in the mind and body, lack of energy and sleepiness. These include meat, old and rotten food, and mushrooms among others.
- Rajas – Fiery, stimulating foods that will cause agitation of the mind, many thoughts, and restlessness in the body. These include chili, black pepper, garlic, onions, coffee and other stimulating foods.
- Sattva – The pure, pristine force acting as a balance between two others. It allows a peace of mind, tranquility and optimal conditions for deep and profound meditation. It will be clean of any unwanted chemicals, cooked with care and love, not spiced, wholesome and light on digestion.
Food provides our bodies with nutrients but also affects the quality of our thoughts
Practicing meditation for several years and spending a lot of time in silent meditation retreats around the world, I realized this. During an intensive meditative practice, food extremely affected the quality of my thoughts. It influenced the level of energy and the depth of my meditative state.
Meditation retreats worldwide most often serve a vegetarian diet. They consider the fact that most spiritual practitioners in the west avoid eating meat. That does not mean any vegetarian or vegan food will be tied to a meditation practice.
What kind of Food should I eat?
Eat Whole Grain For Sufficient Levels Of Energy
Include whole grain nutrients in two meals every day. It will provide your brain with a sufficient amount of energy in a form of complex carbohydrates. This will cause a gradual breakdown of the sugars in your body and sustain your energy levels for many hours.
This is the wiser alternative to serving white rice, bread, pasta or any other refined grain. They cause energy levels to fluctuate rapidly and create fatigue by the late afternoon. The same applies to over-eating and consuming large amounts of protein in the form of meat or other sources.
A great introduction into a field of food awareness is a new Spirit Science video series:
A true sign of intelligence is imagination.
What Should I Avoid To Eat
Fluctuation of the mind is one of the biggest struggles in retreats. We cannot control the mind’s activity as we try to cultivate a steady and calm witness. Observing thoughts as they arise and pass through our field of consciousness.
We can give ourselves a proper support by avoiding certain thing is our diet.
Try to avoid:
- stimulants like coffee, black tea, and sugar.
- eating only “superfoods”
These have a direct effect on your thought process. By keeping your diet simple you can create a good base for a calm mind and deeper meditation.
Yin and Yang foods
The chemical structure of the food is not the only aspect that will affect the quality of our mind’s activity. The energy of the food has a profound impact too.
Putting it in Macrobiotic terms:
- The more Yin foods we consume (fruit, dairy, sweets, spices), the more expansive, dull, lazy and fatigued our mind will become.
- The more Yang food we consume (salty foods and meats), the more our mind will become contracted, tight, rigid and aggressive. Not allowing relaxation and surrender in our meditation practice.
Searching for a balanced diet
Focus on the middle of Yin and Yang spectrum. Your diet will consist mostly of whole grains, vegetables, and beans. It will provide you with a sufficient amount of vitamins, nutrients and a balanced and harmonious energy to connect to the subtle aspects of life and nature.
Our meditation practice is a form of connecting to life in a more direct and harmonious way. Beginning with this attitude on the physical level with a balanced and harmonious diet will simply give a proper base for this movement to unfold.
How The Food You Eat Affects Your Mind – Conclusion
Why do you need to begin at the physical level?
This correlates with the Yogic point of view regarding the energy channels running through our body. Our physical body functions as a vehicle. Give it a proper nourishment on the physical level and you will be able to function on a higher mental and spiritual level.