Searching through some old files this morning, I found this piece on diet and consciousness from my beloved Guru, Sivaya Subramunyaswami.
Diet and Consciousness
It is wise to have a free mind, a clear, serene and relaxed attitude toward life before partaking of food.
That is why people on the inner path traditionally meditate for a moment, chant a mantra or say a prayer before a meal. A simple practice is to intone “Aum.” This harmonizes the inner bodies with the external bodies and frees awareness from entangled areas.
If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot chant Aum aloud, then chant it mentally. Take several seconds before you begin your meal to recentre yourself in this way. You will find that your food profits you very well.
There are many traditional Hindu Ayurvedic guidelines for eating. A few rules that we have found especially important include giving thanks in a sacred prayer before meals; eating in a settled atmosphere, never when upset, always sitting down and only when hungry; avoiding ice-cold food and drink; not talking while chewing; eating at a moderate pace and never between meals; sipping warm water with meals; eating freshly cooked foods whenever possible; minimizing raw vegetables; avoiding white flour and refined sugar; not cooking with honey; drinking milk separately from meals; including a balance of protein and carbohydrates in all meals; cooking with ghee or olive oil only; experiencing all six tastes at least at the main meal (sweet, sour, pungent, astringent, bitter and salty); not overeating, leaving one-third to one-quarter of the stomach empty to aid digestion; and sitting quietly for a few minutes after meals. I might add that ginger root is a magical potion.
Our Ayurvedic doctor has taught us, and experience confirms, that fresh ginger can settle your stomach, relieve a headache, help you sleep if you are restless and keep the agni, fires of digestion, strong, especially while traveling. Grate two inches of fresh ginger, then hold the mash in your hand, add slowly an ounce of warm water and squeeze the juice into a glass. Repeat three times. Drink this extract fifteen or twenty minutes before meals.
It is also quite necessary to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Inadequate water intake results in dehydration, giving rise to many common ailments.
Let us realize this law in our consciousness: we don’t want to place anything into our physical, emotional or mental being that cannot be digested, assimilated and used to the best advantage in giving birth to our highest consciousness. Let every second be a second of discrimination. Let every minute be a minute of realisation. Let every hour be an hour of fulfillment. Let every day be a day of blessing, and every week a week of joy. Then, in a month’s time, look at the foundation that you have laid for those who will follow you. Let the past fade into the dream that it is. It is only experience, to be understood as such in the “now.” In keeping life simple through our powers of discrimination, we give our greatest gift to community, loved ones, country and the world, because we are beginning to vibrate in the superconscious realms of the mind. Your very presence is a blessing when you live in the eternal now, in full command of your life’s diet through the process of discrimination.