Thanks Giving: Joyous Food for the Spirit

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       In a recent conversation with a friend, I reflected on my love of cooking.  I said that, if I had a free moment to relax, it would likely be with poring over a recipe or preparing a special meal.  In my mind, I would conjure the process of working in my kitchen preparing something that will nurture and nourish myself and those around me.  I can feel my heart open and a joyousness emerges as I think of the fireplace crackling with warmth, classical music or chants , wafting through the room, a fragrant candle with the hint of apples and pumpkin, and me, chopping and mixing up a blend of home cooked kindness.  This is, in fact, how it is in my Thanksgiving kitchen.

      As I set about to take various ingredients and turn them into food to offer family and guests, I never feel alone.  Instead, my kitchen is surrounded by memories and traditions.  It brims with remembrances of past holidays, generations of those family and friends past and present, of aromas and tables set with foods popular during the time they were offered.  Food provides a sense of community (of communing together) and connecting in ways that only food can evoke.

      I savor a  memory of my mother baking hundreds of Christmas cookies that she gave out to eager recipients each year — everyone from family and neighbors to the post man and the man who took care of her car.  My mother learned cooking, sewing, and other domestic skills from her own mother.  She, in turn, taught them to her eager daughter.  I knew that I was learning a skill but I was also learning a more important lesson. It was a lesson about how to share love with others.  Then, as my mother reached into her late nineties and lived with my husband and me, we prepared many of those same Christmas cookies.  She had grown too weak and fragile to stand at the counter, mixing heavy dough in big bowls. Under her watchful eye and taking her advice, we took the cookies  from the oven and offered them to her for the true taste test. Every morsel was an act of love.

      Though I did not know it then, the energy and attitude of the cook goes into the food itself.  Mixing dough, mashing potatoes, making the sauces — whatever the dish — it becomes infused with the predominant attitudes of the one cooking.  So cooking with attention to attitude is important.  Maybe even offering a prayer or affirmation as cooking commences is a kind gesture in much the same way as offering thanks for the food set on the table.

      Food and eating as a group has traditions that stretch back into the roots of our humanity and are shared in all cultures.  The “communion,” in religious ritual, brings like-minded people together in praise and commonality — perhaps even in rapture.  It is no mistake that food plays such a central role in all the important ceremonies of life.  Think of holidays (holy days) of all persuasions, weddings, anniversaries, funerals. 

      So it is with much love that I approach the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner.  I will offer a prayer of thanks giving for an abundant sense of love, for all in our nation, and in the world, for concern for those without family and home, for those present and past.  And, especially, to my mother, in thankfulness for the lessons she taught me all those years ago and into this very day.

      Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.  You don’t even have to live in a country where Thanksgiving is celebrated each year, you can make EVERY day one of thanks giving.

With love and namaste from Deanne

For more thoughts, go to www.deannemincer.com and to http://deannemincer@wordpress.com

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About deannemincer

Deanne Mincer has been a long time student of religious and spiritual studies. For many years, she was a practitioner of yoga and in the late 1980's she was drawn to share her enthusiasm by becoming a yoga teacher. Her certification, from the Himalayan Institute, was a comprehensive two year program including the study of anatomy, diet, nutrition, Ayurvedic medical practices, the methods of teaching hatha yoga, the science of breath and the study of raja (the royal path of yoga) philosophy. She has taught yoga, meditation, and spiritual classes for more than twenty years. In the mid 1990's she became a follower of Siddha Yoga where she experienced a spiritual awakening called shaktipat and her teachings took on a new and freshly informed understanding. As Deanne continued her studies, she learned level one in Reiki and also sutdied with Henry Grayson, Ph.D. where she refined her work with muscle testing and the complex of energy healing methods Dr. Grayson has developed for use with his patients. Dr. Grayson's work is illuminated in his books, Mindful Loving and Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind. Deanne teaches group and private classes in yoga as well as stress reduction programs and meditation in many forms (sitting, walking, whirling, meditation in action, and "sleeping" meditation called yoga nidra). She has developed methods of using yoga in treating those with life threatening diseases as in the programs she designed for Gilda's Club and Friends in Deed in New York City. She was a consulting producer on an alternative health program for CNBC's Alive and Wellness, and she has demonstrated yoga on network television. Deanne created the audio DC, Inner Light Yoga with Deanne Mincer and she has spoken widely and demonstrated meditation in many venues. Deanne is an enthusiastic and joyful teacher. She is known for the keen interest she takes in her students' physical and spiritual development. She stresses that each student should work at their own pace in a non-competitive and caring environment. You can read some of the comments her students have shared in the Tesimonials Section of this site. Her teaching is grounded in her own steadfast spiritual awareness - that each of us is a being of eternal light and love and that we can all come to knowing this truth for ourselves. She is eager to help guide you on this joyful path of body, mind, breath and spirit.

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