Give up everything [in the way of food and drink] that is not absolutely necessary to your life for at least a week or two. You will catch a glimpse of freedom, happiness, and justice. You may soon understand why Macrobiotic persons are completely immunized from disease. The decision is yours.
~ George Ohsawa, Zen Macrobiotics
Would you like to boost your immune system without pills or tonics? A long life, free of disease, and filled with peace and happiness, is available to you right now. You can discover the natural ability of the body to heal itself through simple meditation and the art of eating.
What is meditation?
There are two kinds of meditation: concentration meditation and mindfulness meditation.
- Concentration meditation
Concentration meditation is like a laser beam, which illuminates any object of focus. This kind of meditation produces a calm, unruffled mind, that is detached from emotional and interpersonal attachment. Any object of awareness can be the focus of concentration, whether internal or external, including words (mantra), an image (flame), a spot on the body (abdomen), or a kinesthetic feeling (breath). When the mind wanders, the mind returns to the object of concentration.
- Mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation is like a searchlight that shines over a wide range of objects as they arise in awareness, one at a time. You notice whatever predominates in awareness from moment to moment. Relaxed, choiceless awareness develops in the mind, which directs conscious attention instantly and naturally toward the changing elements of experience. Meditation begins with focus on the breath. Then you direct your awareness to include other experiences, including the senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. When the mind wanders, the mind returns to the breath.
Unlike concentration meditation, which focuses on internal and external objects, mindfulness focuses on experiences and broad awareness. However, both meditations return to the focus object or experience when the mind wanders. This combination of detached emotions and an absence of interpersonal involvement in the development of awareness is central to both meditations.
Eating meditation is an example of mindfulness. Follow these steps when you are sitting down to a meal to become aware of the present moment, and help boost your natural immunity:
- Take a bite of food and put your chopsticks or fork down.
- Chew between 50–100 times for each bite. Proper chewing is important to stimulate digestive enzymes and alkalinize your food.
- Swallow your saliva. (Saliva and the water in your body are reflections of the oceans on earth.)
- As you chew, breathe in and out five times. (The breath inside and outside your body contains life force energy, called prana in India.)
- Repeat this process until all the food is gone.
What did you experience? If you experienced peace and a heightened awareness of being in the present moment, this is what mindfulness meditation is: the process of slowing down, with directed, moment-to-moment, nonjudgmental attention. When you practice eating meditation, you open your heart to the present moment, the universal source of natural healing. Your appreciation and gratitude for the food and all who contributed to providing it for your nourishment are the keys to long-lasting health, peace, and happiness.
October 4, 2011 at 6:08 am
Thanks, Julie, for this article. Your mindful eating discussion is right on. I have done it. Anyone who hasn’t should try it for a whole new eating experiemce.
October 4, 2011 at 8:31 am
I’m so glad you enjoyed this article, Dave. Eating meditation is a powerful exercise that can be done anytime to help boost your natural immunity as well as bring peace and joy into your life.