“I love cooking. It gives me a lot of peace.”
“Cooking is therapy, and I feel good about it.”
“Cooking gives me goals to do, things to think about. The process of cooking helps re-center me, diverting me from all negative thoughts.”
“Cooking is meditation.”
If you resonate with the above, you are a mindful cooking practitioner. In other words, when cooking, you only concentrate on the food, the pots and pans, and the kitchen. The kitchen is your sanctum sanctorum for making food, and you experience peace there. I know many friends who tell them that cooking helps them de-stress. It allows them to take time out for themselves.
It is one space where they can be themselves. Of course, the condition being no one is around to disrupt their thoughts, and the place is not chaotic. To truly experience the aromas and flavours of every dish, one must be there whole and soul! Your mind must be in that place rather than elsewhere. They say you need not be a skillful or a good cook but a mindful cook. When you begin cooking, you know precisely what you put in the dish.
1. Start grounding yourself
There is no better way to begin the day than going for a nature walk, letting the first rays of the sun fall on your face, walking on bare grass and earth, and spending time in the water. Grounding is the best way to absorb nature’s positive energies and nourish your food.
2. Practice Gratitude
Taking a moment before beginning cooking is a great way to bring in mindfulness during cooking. In addition, you can thank the Universe for giving you all the ingredients to cook and appreciating the nutrition you are receiving from the food grown.
3. Set the intent
What is intent? It is a purpose or goal that you set before beginning any task. The same goes for cooking. What do you want to prepare today? Is it something that you would like to eat? Is it for someone in your family? Either way, the intent must be positive in anything you cook – something that makes everyone happy, including yourself. For instance, you can say, “I want to prepare a nourishing, delicious meal for my family.” You can make similar statements or affirmations and display them in your head before beginning to cook.
4. Being in the present
As you cook, feel the warmth in the kitchen, breathe in the aromas and flavours, and feel the taste of the texture of the food on the tastebuds. If you think of all these, you are entirely into cooking.
5. Shut off external distractions
There were no gadgets in earlier times, so one leisurely did cooking. We knew what we were cooking and what we ate as well. Cooking minus any external distractions (of course, there can be emergency calls, but avoid social media distractions) is the best way to practice mindful cooking.
6. Make it a sensory experience
Using all your senses – sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound – helps immensely in mindful cooking. For instance, noticing the colour of the vegetables, feeling the texture of the grains before and during cooking, tasting the gravy after you add salt and spices, and finally listening to the sizzling pan or the spluttering of seeds in the hot oil before you do the garnish, and smelling in all the spices, will engage all your senses effectively during cooking. Old timers vouch that they could make food without tasting it.
7. Pen down recipes
You may say that you are looking at a YouTube channel for recipes, but most of the time (be honest!), you spend more time before the screen, browsing other videos. Once you select the recipe you like, you can copy the recipe/write it down in a diary first (old-fashioned pen and paper!) before entering the kitchen. You could even pick the ingredients out while watching the video. Then, when you begin the process of cooking, you can have the diary around with you. It was an excellent old-fashioned method used in the days of zero digital devices by our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They often remembered recipes verbatim thanks to this habit. So that rules out your need for a gadget for cooking.
8. Slow cooking
Stirring a gravy, kneading the dough, boiling rice, making a salad, chopping vegetables, and setting the table are all a part of slow cooking. It sounds impractical to do slow cooking when you are running against time to complete your deadline. But the solution may be to keep some time off for cooking alone. In your limited time, consciously keep away all kinds of distractions. That is why many love slow cooking on an open fire as well. No wonder our parents always insisted on waking up at dawn!
“Cooking is not just about the food. It’s about the intention, the love, and the energy we infuse into every dish.”
How accurate is this statement? Think about how many days you have practiced mindful cooking. If you still need to and are caught up in the daily, monotonous routine, it is time to reset and start all over. If food nourishes the body, soulfully made food enhances both mind and body!
Priya is a quirky writer/photographer/closet poet, and singer who has traversed a non-conventional path. As a former entertainment journalist who has worked in print and online media for a decade, Priya loves talking to people and writing their unspoken stories. She is the single parent of an 8.5-year-old son settled in Tamil Nadu and a freelance Content Consultant. Priya is also an informal mentor to parents in her local parenting network. She dreams of being an author and maybe a scriptwriter someday!
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