Food is altering what we are, forever, and it’s happening all of the time. We are never the same from one moment to the next. At subtler levels, food is more than bread and water it is also the air we breath and the smells we sense. By reframing what food and eating are, their relationship to Consciousness we can make better choices to promote our well-being.
According to Ayurveda (an ancient science of life) and more recently that also of Quantum physics we can understand that the source of the Universe is Consciousness. This might seem abstract if it comes as a new concept. I find it easier to understand by comparing reality to a dream. When we have a dream, everything appears real, there can be many characters, scenes and narratives but it is all a product of our own consciousness. In the same way, we too, are part of a greater dream, and a dreamer.
Consciousness, at its source, is formless. But in its constructive forms, there are varying qualities of consciousness, at the extreme, it is the difference between a dream and a nightmare. If we are more conscious then we can more easily navigate the pitfalls of falling into a nightmare. The quality of our food too can have the effect giving us a nightmare, think about getting a stomach bug from a suspicious-looking burger or having too many drinks and suffering the consequences the next day – or the same night for that matter.
Consider the metaphors from Alice in Wonderland with regard to the impact of food on us. As she ventures into a dream world, she encounters many references to food and drink. Eating and drinking invariably lead to changing Alice’s perspectives and behaviors, for example, causing her to be large, powerful and dominating, and other times quite small and vulnerable. This correlates with Ayurvedic teachings. Ayurveda has long ago grouped foods according to how they influence the quality of our consciousness: Satvic (High quality), Rajasic (Moderate), Tamasic (Low). The Tamasic, the lowest quality of consciousness is less subtle but it also helps to ground and stabilize us, too much will cause fatigue, greediness, and uncaringness. Rajasic foods make us active and passionate but an imbalance might make us dominating, controlling and perfectionists. Sattvic foods promote wisdom, intuition, feelings of joy and well-being. Food is more than just fuel it influences the state of our minds and the quality of our being.
With this in mind let us explore examples of subtler forms of input that our body consumes that also influence our nature:
- We consume oxygen from the air, we suck it up using our mouth or nose. A vital nourishment that our wellbeing critically relies upon. The quality of our breath is affected by attributes like depth and regularity. Meditation, for example, can produce dramatic results in our physiology.
- Our skin absorbs UVB rays that trigger the production of vitamin D, crucial for bone health.
- Certain oils and chemicals can penetrate deep into the skin while others like essential oils can make it all the way through to be absorbed into the bloodstream. These oils can play positive effects on our body such as Optimizing the cellular renewal process, Preventing cell damage, Anti-viral, Anti-bacterial and more.
- Our noses, the entry point to the most primitive of our senses breathe in aromatic molecules. At the top of the nose, specialized nerve cells called Olfactory cells have tiny little hairs each capable of recognizing specific aromas. This information is communicated to the limbic system in the brain (area of the brain that controls blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, hormone balance, and more) that can cause mood changes by altering brain chemistry.
- Our Ears are like antennas, picking up frequencies. Since matter is energy vibrating at different frequencies it is not surprising that sound, like music, affects us so profoundly. Research shows for example, that music can act like a trigger that dispenses chemicals from our biological pharmacies. It has the potential of curing insomnia to persuading shoppers to spend more!
- Seeing is believing. All the senses contribute to our belief system but perhaps none like eyesight. And what we believe triggers all chemicals to go off. If we see a tiger approaching our bodies are likely to start producing Cortisol in response to fear/stress. While video games and TV are being accused of over-compensating our reward systems for our attention, triggering dopamine to be produced by our brains, resulting in addictive behavior
- The thought is also food. It influences our state of being, it can produce a nourishing effect on our body as well as producing counter effects. Concentrated with intention and attention the thought can become more or less influential. Consider the placebo effect, fake medicine, and even fake operations have shown to induce the effects of the medicine or operation. Studies have shown that thoughts can change the chemistry and the circuitry of the brain, which can impact cognition, physiology, elevated hormone levels, and anxiety.
- The thought is the subtlest of the foods, and interestingly, unlike other foods, can be self-generated, perhaps a curious property of consciousness – Food for thought!
- Thoughts are subtle but crucial because they can set the path for the next cycle of behavior that leads us to the choices we make about what we want to eat. The quality of thoughts are influenced by what we eat and the quality of what we choose to eat is determined by our thoughts.