We often try to eat nutritious food in order to maintain a healthy body. The food we eat not only nourishes our body but also influences our mind and thoughts. The subtle energy from the food is transformed into the mind. Purity of food leads to purity of mind. When eaten, certain types of food increase negative emotions. Therefore, those who follow spiritual disciplines must be extremely careful about what they eat.
Without controlling food, one cannot control the mind. Food must be used to maintain both a healthy body and mind. Food must not be eaten for taste alone. Unless one renounces the taste for food, one cannot enjoy the taste of the heart.
The kind of thoughts the cook has will affect one who eats the food. Once, a monk started dreaming about news events even though he was not in the habit of reading newspapers. He wondered why he was having these strange dreams. One day, he saw the ashram cook reading the newspaper while cooking. Then he understood the reason. While reading the newspaper and cooking, sometimes, the fire would get extinguished. Without taking his eyes away from the newspaper, he would relight the stove. All his concentration would be on the newspaper. Without realizing it, his thoughts began to exert an influence on the monk's mind as well. So, as much as possible, mothers must try to cook for their families. Chanting one’s mantra during this time will purify the food. Everyone in the family will benefit from this.
Before eating, let us offer a little food to our pets or other animals and birds around us. Seeing the divinity or our favourite deity in them, we should offer them food as if it were prasad.
While sitting down to eat, a ball of food must be kept aside while visualising our favorite deity. Closing our eyes for two minutes, we can pray, “O God, may this food give me the strength to recognize You in everyone and to serve them thus.” Do not focus just on the taste. Imagine that we are feeding our favorite deity, seated within us. Then the act of eating becomes transformed into worship.
Do not eat to fill the stomach. Food must fill half of the stomach. A quarter is for water, and the other quarter, for air movement. This will aid proper digestion. If we stuff the stomach, the heart will have to work very hard. This will harm our health. Eating at regular times also helps us control the mind and health. Eat to live. Do not live to eat.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi