People on a spiritual path do not need dogma. Someone searching for truth would benefit from letting go of a mission to figure out what system is “better”, ditch the idea of following “rules” and instead aim for a practice that includes moment-to-moment flexibility. I call it being spiritually flexible.
Being spiritually flexible does not mean slacking off. There is purpose, intension and especially accountability.
And more than anything else being spiritually flexible spans areas of your life besides the yoga mat. Being spiritually flexibly includes the yoga of relationship, the yoga of parenting, the yoga of work and of course the yoga of the kitchen.
The yoga of the kitchen includes many parts. Some of them are:
1. Know your food truth
2. Flow in your kitchen
3. Release your thoughts. Change your food.
4. Love the Skin you Live In
5. Food flexibility.
And a few more.
Lets take a deeper look at food flexibility.
What I love about food flexibility is that it busts through the food myths that there is one right way to eat. Yes I am talking to you yogis. I know somewhere inside, because I have been there myself, you have either been a person who is searching for the yogic way to eat, are a person who thinks they found it or thought there was a yogic way to eat and now found this is not true.
Studying the first Yama, Ahimsa, is enough to strengthen this argument. Ahimsa has often been mistaken to mean, do not eat animals, but what it means is non-violence. And I want to challenge you to consider that not eating meat might be violent to your own body, mind and spirit depending on your age, health concern or context you live in. Instead of trying to live by rules inquire into what violence and food mean to you, your body, your unique relationship to food and try food flexibility.
Below is a personal story that illustrates a time when my ideals were shattered because of my needs in the moment. A real lesson in food flexibility. I call it the story of the chicken. Read on to learn more…
One afternoon my friend Carin and I were hiking and stumbled along the farm Slide Ranch. As we walked onto the premises we heard a voice, “Wanna help?” There was a man standing there with a white t-shirt with bits of red on it and as we looked up he was holding a chicken with his head cut off.
“Want to help pluck the chicken?” he said. Oh that red…it was not paint! My friend and I looked at each other and she enthusiastically said yes.
I on the other hand felt a bit stuck in my tracks. Seven years ago I had become a vegetarian and 5 years ago became a vegan. I was not sure I wanted to be involved, but honestly he was pretty good looking so off to pluck a chicken I went. We spent the afternoon helping out and later on that night he asked us to join them for dinner. And guess what they were serving? Chicken.
Oh boy, could I eat this creature? After some discussion and my own internal struggle we decide to come back for dinner. My rational was that if I was going to eat meat I would take the offering of THIS chicken. She had a good life, on a good farm, it was her time to go (at least according to the good looking guy) and I helped with the process. I picked up a piece the size of my pinkie nail, said grace, closed my eyes and that was that. I put the whole thing behind me and went back to my vegan life. My first dab at food flexibility.
Flash forward 2 months, I was at a friends wedding and it was time for the reception. I saw the buffet and before I knew it I was b lining to the dining table. I took a plate and a large piece of roasted chicken. I couldn’t get to the table soon enough. As I walked I was pulling apart the chicken, the grease dripping down my arms towards my elbows, as if I had never seen food before. I devoured that chicken in less than 5 minutes.
Then I sat, breathing, watching my thoughts.
What happened to my vegan life? In a matter of seconds my ideals, my beliefs, my image, my ideology were shattered.
My plate was empty.
I looked around. Were people watching? I was a yoga teacher, a vegan chef and cooking teacher! I looked inside to see “where I had gone” during the last 5 minutes. No where. I had not spaced out. I was present. I was calm, I felt satisfied. I felt aligned.
Yet I was seeing my ideas wanting to stay in the “old me” and what I needed in the present being completely different. Which “should” I believe? The old or the new? And could this be true? In a matter of minutes did the last 7 years disappear? The ideas and image of myself were melting away as I sat feeling calm inside. As I continued to look inwardly I noticed, I was peaceful. Something was shifting. I listened to my body. It was saying it’s OK, I need this. I want this.
I sat longer.
And then it hit me. Food Flexibility. I have to practice flexibility. Not just on the mat but here in the dining room at the reception dinner of my friends wedding.
Now it didn’t just gel all at once, but I decided to trust something in me that knew more than my thoughts. A felt sense that felt satisfied and peaceful. Isn’t that the aim of my practice? And here it was coming from a piece of chicken.
I get that this story is not for everyone. But I do believe it makes the point of food flexibility. As the Buddha said, ”see for yourself.”
What is true for you? What food beliefs are you holding on to? Is your body craving something else? Or visa versa? Does your body think it wants something but your beliefs could use some fine-tuning?
Challenge your food beliefs. I was forced to in that moment and I’m glad I was. It was a huge lesson in the art of letting go and non-attachment.
I welcome you to practice food flexibility this month.
I would really love to hear from you about the article and what you discover. Write in the comments below and I promise to check and respond.
In health and service
Darshana Weill, Somatic/ Spiritual Counselor and Yoga Teacher has counseled over 1100 women worldwide. Her main aim is to support her students to learn to feed their souls and nourish their bodies through individual sessions, group work, tele-classes, webinars and home-study programs. A guest teacher at the 2011 Yoga Journal Conference in San Francisco you can also find Darshana teaching LIVE between Sonoma and Santa Cruz CA or via tele-classes and webinars.
For a free copy of Darshana’s EBook 5 Keys to End Unwanted Cravings and Find Food Freedom or to find out more about Darshana’s FOOD FREEDOM Programs check out www.darshanaweill.com or www.findfoodfreedom.com
To contact Darshana directly call 415 637 7222 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
WORKSHOPS WITH DARSHANA AT YOGA TREE
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The Yoga of Food: How is life feeding you?
Sugar can be Medicine,
Yoga and Food For Emotional Eating,
Health Moms, Healthy Families,
Kick Cravings; A 21 Days program for women who want to take back their power over food.