Start listening to the discussion around food; the words we use to describe it. You will hear little aside from comments about taste and satisfaction. "Yum" or "this is so good" or "tastes ok" or "definitely worth the calories."
What all of these have in common is their reference to taste, something that has become increasingly dominant in our idea of what makes good food. You may even hear healthy food---food that serves a useful propose to the function of our bodies---described with derision: "Ugh, this tastes healthy."
Even though we occasionally pay lip service to the value of eating healthy, we drift farther and farther from the understanding that we eat to keep our bodies alive. Instead we eat to simulate our senses with aromas and flavors. We eat what smells good and what tastes good. We go to restaurants expecting a delicious experience. Even if we go to a health food store or eatery, the measure of value is most often in the taste.
This relationship with food is bad for our minds.
(It is almost inappropriate to call it food since that's not why we put it in our mouth. We should call it "flavor swallow" or something that signifies its true use.) Every time we stimulate the senses, the mind is drawn outward, causing it to seek satisfaction externally. But this ends up making us eternally unhappy, because the senses can never give satisfaction. They only bring more sensory craving.
The way to happiness lies through resisting our sensory cravings until they become quiet. When our senses are quiet we can perceive things more clearly.
With food this means that we must resist our cravings for tasty food, at least in their disguise as "good" food.
Once we do this, our consumption of food becomes so much clearer. We understand eating as a process of nourishment, not of sensory simulation. We don't need to avoid all tasty things, we just need to recognize what they truly are.
P.S. We do our best to not offend. Really, we do. And we know the sensitivity of this issue. If this article strikes a tender spot in you or brings up emotion or anger, take just one millisecond to recognize that, and that is enough for today. We are on your side!
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga. This blog is about their experience with yoga practice, study and teaching.
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