There is a practice in Japan called Ikebana: the disciplined art form of arranging flowers in such a way that the intention of the artist is shown in the meaningful combination of colors, lines, and shapes. It is a meditation of intention and gratitude.
Chado, or the Japanese tea ceremony, is a similar practice. By way of an age old tradition of preparing and drinking tea in a peaceful and simple environment with repetitive actions, the guests are able to enter a meditative state of intention and gratitude.
In both of these practices, every movement made and every object encountered is treated with the upmost importance and intention, meaning and purpose.
We go about our lives repeating many actions daily - brushing our teeth, showering, dressing, cleaning, driving, and eating. These actions already have inherent intentions behind them, originating from the purpose of doing them: We brush our teeth for clean teeth, shower to clean our bodies, etc. Most times, as these actions are repeated so often, we don’t even give much thought to the intention anymore, nor give much thought to the action either. The intention and purpose behind the action is lost.
We all want to live meaningful, joyful, healthy lives. This begs the question, ‘what gives something meaning’? Are we only living a meaningful life if someone else labels it as such? We can search outside of ourselves for stimulus, beauty, musings, inspiration, and wonder, but it is from seeking within that gives these external components meaning and power.
This idea carries over to how we eat. So many of us feed our bodies with little thought about the purpose, importance and intention behind the food that we put into our bodies to sustain our health. Our society tends to market food as ‘convenient’, ‘filling’, ‘fast’ and ‘tasty’, but is that how we want to nourish our bodies? With only convenient, filling, fast, tasty food?
When we shift our perspectives from mainstream food marketing to the idea of eating with intention and purpose, we begin to view food differently. Eating no longer becomes a chore to be crossed off a task list, but rather evolves into a ritual or practice of wellness and health. It takes on a level of high importance, as it should, since food is the fuel for our bodies which also directly effects our mood, proper functioning and state of mind.
Through the practice of listening to our bodies (I will link that blog post here) and personally re-instilling the meaning and intention behind the food that we put into our bodies, health will be inevitable. We begin to really understand the vital importance of nutritious food, clean eating, and intentional eating to thrive mentally and physically.
What a practice it is to shift from mindless and bored eating, and replace with a ritual of purpose and gratitude. Sustaining our health and wellbeing shouldn’t take backseat to convenience nor be an afterthought only when our stomachs grumble. When we take the time and energy to actually nourish our bodies instead of just filling them, our whole perspective on eating will shift. Eating is an art and intention will help us cultivate and master this beautiful practice of wellness.