CENTERING YOUR INNER CHEF:

5 STEPS TO FINDING THE CONSCIOUS WAY TO COOK

By Megan Sullivan, Whole Food Love, www.wholefoodlove.com

I take a peek of some of my favorite and inspiring blogs…and I begin to completely relax.  Maintaining that feeling, I take a deep breath, feel my heart rate slow, and begin to let my fingers type.  I have the true sense that some divine being or omnipresence is working through me.  My fingers just move…

Where else do I feel this?  In the kitchen.  How can this be?  We are so often faced with scenes of Gordon Ramsey, the sweaty chef slaving over a stove in a busy restaurant kitchen, and of course the Mama trying to prep dinner in between nap times and soccer games.  What do all these scenes have in common?  Chaos.
Why do so many experiences in the kitchen revolve around chaos?  It’s this very reason that keeps so many of us underutilizing this room in our home and sitting in a restaurant booth or ordering in.  I’m NOT a “fancy chef”.  I have never been to Paris’s Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, I cook more for health than taste (psssst – that actually makes cooking easier) but I can whip up a delicious, nourishing, and heathy meal + ENJOY the process.  We all can.   You see, the secret is staying PRESENT.
Have you ever felt the experience of FLOW?  Intense focus, no sense of time, effortless work.  Much like love, when you feel it, you know.  An athlete is lucky to feel this over a few games in his or her career.  An artist may may be able to experience this while painting a masterpiece and an author may have bouts while writing her soon to be best seller.  I have this experience several times a week in my kitchen.  Its all about staying PRESENT.

FINDING FLOW…

Gathering the ingredients feels much like a warm-up.  I don’t have a large kitchen but I begin to move around the tile floor like its a ballroom.  There’s the long reach to the spice cabinet and then there’s the preparation of the vegetables and produce.  I take note of how perfect Nature performs when she is allowed.  Her color and beauty continue to mystify me.  Take the time to notice.  Have you ever seen colors more beautiful than the produce section?

MOVING MEDITATION…

Next there’s the chopping board. When I’m going to have an extremely busy week, I admit that I use the food processor, but whenever I have some breathing room, I truly LOVE to hand chop vegetables.  Chopping has always been meditative for me.  If you look at it through the right lens, it’s a type of moving meditation.  It has a constant and rhythmic nature that requires focus but not strain.  Chopping with a good, sharp knife can be centering.  As Dr. Andrew Weil says, “Awareness of the danger present in wielding sharp instruments helps concentrate my attention.”

8 TO PLATE…

One of the most common concerns we hear for newbies is that they get overwhelmed with recipes.  A great rule of thumb when you’re first starting out is to select recipes that have less than 8 ingredients.  This makes the recipe truly manageable and you can have all of the ingredients ready to go when you START the recipe which reduces overwhelm.  PRESENCE can’t let you in if you’re knocking on OVERWHELM’s door.  Know that a new recipe is a learning experience needing extra time and attention.  The second time around will feel more like a dance.

THE EXACT TRUTH…

One of the best tips about cooking is …you DON’T have to be exact.  Cooking is NOT Baking.  If you add a little too much paprika or a small onion rather than a large, its doesn’t mean your recipe is ruined.  Cooking is truly like dipping your hand in a moving river.  It will NEVER be exactly the same.  That’s the beauty of it.  Just like a Broadway show, the performance, taste, flavor, and ambiance will be different every time.  Enjoy this!  Your dish is truly and original work of art that cannot be replicated.

SENSE IN SAVORING…

Since your dish will only be making a one-time appearance…SAVOR it! So many of us rush through eating, always thinking of the next task to complete or how busy our schedule is tomorrow.  It’s no wonder we’re moving out of the kitchen – who would want to spend time preparing a dish thats gone in minutes without the consideration of the effort put in to prepare it.  As you create your dish, you are responsible for each ingredient.  As you enjoy your dish, your taste buds heighten with awareness of each flavor of each ingredient.  It also makes eating out much like wine tasting as you try to identify flavor notes with each bite.
PRESENCE  IS THE KEY TO EVERYTHING INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF THE KITCHEN.  WHEN YOU STAY PRESENT, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO STAY POSITIVE.  YOU CAN ONLY BE IN ONE MOMENT AT A TIME AND WITHOUT THE RECALL OF TRAGEDIES OF THE PAST OR WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE, YOU CAN ONLY FOCUS ON THE NOW AND

NOW IS AN EXTRAORDINARY PLACE TO BE.

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