A reader of the #blog SattvaTattva sent me this question: You talk about sattvic food as supporting conscious expansion. What does it mean-conscious expansion? How is it different from eating with awareness or mindfully?
Thank you for asking the question. Here are some basics about sattvic food- how sattvic food is different from organic food, not ayurvedic food, benefits of sattvic diet, and learn more about sacred foods that we must eat every day. With this background, you can better understand the answer I present below.
Ancient Hindu scriptures that provide guidance regarding the sattvic lifestyle are codified formulas for conscious expansion. The practices and diet prescribed in the texts support the expansion of human possibilities with techniques that boost our potentialities. For example, if you have always been told that you need to eat three meals a day is required to be healthy. Contrary to this advice, you will find the scriptures say a person who eats three times a day is sick in the belly, a rogi [row-ghee]!
Eat once like a yogi, twice as a bhogi [bo-ghee], eating thrice is for a rogi
You can practically experiment on this. Start by eating full meals three times a day. Gradually skip one meal and eat two meals a day. When you are ready for the one meal a day challenge, for the successful completion of your experiment, you need to support your body with both yogasana practice and meditation or chanting practice. Maintain your journal, track your moods and weight, and your wellness. You will be able to find your level of dependence on food. By doing this experiment and trying this method, you have expanded your consciousness and your range of possibilities. You have also made your decisions based on your consciousness and what works for you.
The sattvic diet does not just focus on the mind-body connection. It asks you to lead a profoundly contemplative lifestyle that goes beyond the obvious connections of the mind and body. The possibilities highlight your super-human powers by going beyond both body and mind and reaching into the realm of consciousness. Food is only one aspect of a sattvic lifestyle. What we eat as food plays a critical part of energizing our cognitions and thought processes.
Constant emotional reactions to events cause our bodies to create toxins. Awareness that our reactions produce toxins and these toxins cause their own, unwanted, cycle of reactions is fundamental cognition that supports conscious expansion. For toxins to be flushed out of our system and give our digestive system a complete rest and relaxation, we can choose our fuel or foods deliberately.
Food that expands our consciousness also serves multiple functions. For example, organic vegetables and fruits such as pumpkin, cucumber, and watermelon cool our bodies. They also have high fiber, fill our stomachs faster due to water content, and are easy to digest. If we need a bit of spicy taste, we can sprinkle salt and pepper on fruits or vegetables. Foods that are sattvic and easier to digest keep us feeling light and fulfilled throughout the day. Similarly, buttermilk helps to replenish our gut microbial population, cools, provides vital amino acids and nutrients to the body.
When we consume food mindfully, we primarily feel well nourished and satisfied with the food we have consumed. Mindfulness while eating ensures that we do not overeat and slow down to detect our body’s signals regarding the quality, taste, texture, and quantity of food we are eating. We become aware of our eating patterns, our cravings, and our dialogue with food. When we cook or prepare food mindfully, we organically appreciate and often feel a genuine sense of overflowing gratitude for the abundance we are being showered with.
Conscious expansion can be caused only by cognitive shifts. When the food we eat does not trigger cravings or euphoria, instead, it steadies our mood swings, such food supports conscious expansion. For example, eating commercially available potato chips makes us crave for more and more salt or want to taste more of the chips. Food that triggers cravings is not designed to be filling or supporting your conscious growth. They are designed to fulfill immediate sensory needs without addressing the deeper aspects of hunger. This is one reason why we consume a lot more snacks as compared to real food.
The food we eat should be able to fuel our energy needs for the work we do. Our goal is to become stable. Be able to concentrate on tasks for a long time without any distraction, even when there are noise and movement around us. This is an indication that everything is alright with our body, and our mind has become steady. Such steadiness can be achieved by breathing and awareness too. However, when we eat sattvic food, the physiological responses of the body are altered and become stabilized.
Participants of the cooking classes offered by living sattva have reported that they felt more alert and less sluggish when they dine on sattvic recipes. They reported feeling content and satisfied with smaller servings and having fewer cravings. These benefits are associated with specific spices offer signature flavor and taste, and aid in digestion and detox. When our stomach does not have to work so hard to digest the food, our body has so much free energy for devoting to higher pursuits.
Sattvic food feeds our body, steadies our mind, and supports conscious expansion by the stability of both the body and the mind. Following an active routine is also critical for conscious expansion. The conscious expansion will not happen if we watch TV and snack mindlessly. It happens when we choose to be aware and hold on to powerful cognitions that renounce our feeling of helplessness, overwhelmed, tiredness, or boredom every time it shows up in our mind or our thoughts. Imagine the stamina and patience required to accomplish this. Our body should be able to support the intense dramas our mind creates for us. To feel powerful enough to manifest everything we need with the support of cosmos, meeting whatever life brings to us with every breath and continually building the life we envision requires a tremendous amount of strength. Just like a rocket cannot take off without proper fuel, our conscious expansion cannot take off without sattvic food.
Stock your sattvic pantry and choose sattvic food every time and every day!