How often do you complain about the food you are served? To be honest, I have met only a handful of people till date who take whatever they are served without any complaint, no matter how bad it tastes. Until a couple of years ago, I too used to complain a lot about my food but after practicing some basic food contemplation strategies, I have learned the secrets of why some people never complain about their food. It’s not that they don’t want to complain, but they have learned to appreciate the food they are served. Today, I am going to share these basic food contemplation tips with you and believe me, you will definitely enjoy your food better.
People say it’s their right to complain when their food doesn’t taste good, but I have also realized that for some people, grumbling during the meal-time becomes a habit and no matter how much efforts their wife, husband, mother, daughter or sister put in preparing the food for them, they will never be able to appreciate it. The irony is, if you let these people prepare their own food, they will never complain even if it doesn’t taste good at all. One such person was my aunt. She would always complain whenever her daughters prepared the meals but when she prepared it herself, she would boast how delicious it was although no one of us would find it tasty. We used to silently laugh among ourselves.
I was very fortunate to get this wisdom a couple of years ago from one of my colleagues, Mr. Sonam Jamtsho who is currently working at Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency (BNCA) as a senior counsellor. When I told him that I always complain about food at home, he shared with me some basic ways to contemplate on food as he had heard from a Buddhist master. Those contemplation hymns instantly changed my perspective and significantly helped me appreciate my food at all times. Even today, I still eat with mindfulness and I have almost completely stopped complaining about my food now.
The food contemplation hymn is simple. It is only about eating mindfully, but how do you do that can be difficult to some people. You are at the table, with a plate full of food right before you. Just before you put the first spoonful of the food into your mouth, just think of millions of other people in the world who are currently starving and kindly pray that they too become equally fortunate like you to have their share of food. Then shift your focus on all beings like farmers and natural elements including soil, rain and sunshine that have contributed to the production of the food and thank them for their kind efforts and generosity. Think of those businessmen who have brought that food to the market and think of the person who has prepared it once it reached your home and made it ready for you to eat. You must bring all those involved right before your eyes and thank them for making everything ready for you, ready to satisfy your hunger and thirst. If you can do this during every meal, you will discover a unique taste in your food and you will start appreciating it. This practice makes you feel humble and you will learn how to value the efforts and love your wife, mother, daughter, sister, brother, dad, husband or friends put in getting the food ready for you. It’s also important to treat our food as medicine and realize that we eat it just to survive and not totally for fun. We must be able to share the pleasure of having food with all the sentient beings who aren’t as fortunate as we are. To conclude, this is how I have first learned to appreciate my food and it’s very helpful and effective, but mind you, you must take it seriously. More importantly, one must be able to get into the shoes of the person who prepares the food and only then, you will feel the pain when somebody else complains about the food on which you have invested so much energy and time.
Special thanks to Pema Tshomo and Riku Dhan Subba for choosing the images for this post.