Every time I am feeling stressed, upset or a bit off, I can turn to my kitchen to find some comfort. But what is it about cooking that works almost as a form of meditation?
How cooking can calm the mind
Sitting down to meditate is not something that comes with ease to me. Because I struggle with just staying still. I do it from time-to-time, and feel a lot better when I’m done. But it doesn’t come naturally to me. Meaning I don’t do it as often as I need it.
I can tell you however, that whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed, there’s one thing that feels so natural and almost like second-nature to me. And that’s turning to the kitchen. I find cooking to be quite similar to meditating in the way that is calms the monkey mind.
Meditation is about being present instead of allowing your thoughts about past situations and future concerns to run wildly. It does this by focusing on the breath.
Cooking, is one of those activities that requires your full attention. It has steps to follow and many times you are working with tools where you have to focus 100 percent. Like when you’re using a sharp knife for instance. Similar to staying with the breath in the case of meditation, when you cook, you are staying with your ingredients.
I’ll admit that cooking may seem like a chore at times. But that’s because we often see it that way – as something that HAS to get done. Not as something that we CHOOSE to do. We’re trying to reach the end goal instead of being in the actual moment.
The act of cooking is truly a beautiful experience. It’s about being present – just you with your ingredients. It’s also about using all of your senses. You are being stimulated by different sounds and colors like when chopping different veggies. Then there are the intoxicating smells and flavors – my all-time favorite being the smell of roasting garlic. Nothing beats it!
The kitchen is where you witness the most amazing transformations. Simple ingredients from your pantry and fridge become foods that nourish not only your body, but also your soul. And it all happens right before your eyes.
Can food give you the feels?
There are foods that you eat that feel like a hug for the soul at every bite. Like enjoying a warm gooey brownie. Is it because of how food makes you feel or does the person behind the cooking have something to do with it?
I love stories that embrace the powers of cooking. Not only from the point of view of making beautiful dishes, but also as a way to process and express our emotions.
There’s a movie/book that always comes to mind when I think of the emotional connection with food – Like Water For Chocolate. The story revolves around a couple that falls in love but are forbidden to marry. Our leading lady Tita, is destined to instead stay single and care for her mother.
Tita has a superpower where the emotions she feels while cooking pours out into her food. If she’s happy or sad while cooking, those who try her food will feel the same. It’s been a while since I’ve watched it, but there’s a scene in particular that I always remember. Tita has to make a wedding cake for the arranged marriage of her love interest to her sister. Naturally, this makes her desperately cry as she bakes. As all the wedding guests try the cake, one by one they all of a sudden burst into tears.
Eating something that was made by someone in tears won’t make you cry. I do believe however that there’s a transfer of energy when you cook. And not only from the stove to the food! A transfer of intention and emotions.
We’ve all enjoyed food that had the ability of taking us on a journey at every bite. It could be at a restaurant or with mom’s cooking. Where your taste buds light up with joy and curiosity and warmth. Or the times where you’re transported into a beautiful memory. Food has the power to do that.
Kind of like an artist when they paint.
The art of cooking
Music, paintings, and sculptures usually come to mind as examples of art. But I would also include cooking to the list.
Your time in the kitchen, is the perfect moment to unleash your creativity. In fact, cooking can be an amazing outlet to fully be yourself. We won’t always create Monet’s out of our kitchen. But cooking is not about the masterpiece anymore than painting is. It’s about starting with a blank canvas, picking up a paint-brush, and allowing your soul to have a voice.
The more you practice any type of art and in this case cooking, the more you’ll feel comfortable with following less and less the recipe, and instead allowing yourself to be guided. Call it intuition or soul or even your muse.
So next time that you are in the kitchen (cooking or eating), have a full body and soul experience. Focus on the colors, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes. Also, do a check-in on how you felt going into the kitchen and how you felt coming out. See what comes up for you!