The Altar Of Right Foods…


Daily Exercise is something I have been practicing since I was 12 years old – I don’t know otherwise. In that sense, the ritual practice of strenuous movement has become a primary religion to me – literally. I have often been ashamed to share that for fear of offending those of more ornate and historic faiths; that my greatest faith lies in the belief of, and the ritual practice of playing games with gravity. But that is my reality.

In the most wonderful sense though, it is the having of exercise in my life which brings me closest to any possibility of a god, a reverent life in my community, or on my planet. I have only recently come to realize and embrace this concept; that the having of this something is paramount in my ability to appreciate anything, and to give back in any way.  Outwardly, my workout time seems self-serving.  Inwardly, didactic in ways which reach far beyond this self.

With daily exercise as a spiritual service for me, right eating choices throughout the day are my primary form of prayer. Just as prayer better connects a person to a faith, the more I reach out to my daily practice of exercise through good eating choices, the better connected the inner me and the outer me become.  Food praying poises me that I am better able to take on and serve the world, and the people in it.

As in contemplative prayer, there is something cleansing about the observance of right eating.  Not just eating the healthy meal, but actually taking time to consider it as I prepare it.  Thought, combined with the tactile observance of cutting the vegetables, steaming the brown rice, assembling crisp salads, and biting in to the fresh apple are a literal prayer and sacrament – I give and I get, simultaneously.   My body and my spirit liven up expressly when preparing, and when partaking in more natural foods. I feel fortified, and better able to participate in the great dance.

Conversely, when I withdraw from taking care of me with food prayer, it isn’t long before I become less connected to life and to people – less willing and less able to contribute.  On the heels of poor eating I often experience feelings of lethargy, inability to accomplish, and even shame and guilt – just as there can be guilt in not praying, or praying for a lesser purpose – to outrun an earned circumstance.   

I liken eating poorly, despite that one may regularly exercise, to going to church each week for the message, but driving away after the sermon only to hit the trail of sin again.  Or, to not give any further consideration to faith again until the following Sunday.  As soon as some leave the church, it’s right back to taking more than they give. This kind of hit and run faith is too common, though as modern Americans we do hit and run living pretty well.

Whether your connection to exercise is one of reverence, out of obligation, or out of medical necessity…  be you an athlete, fitness enthusiast, surfer, runner, dancer, or weekend warrior of any variety, I suspect you will better connect with, and benefit more from your ritual movement, by better connecting in-between movements with good food – thought and prepared for good reason, as a form of right obedience. 

It is long forgotten that the purpose of eating is to survive the day as best we can; to better prepare the body to serve the next day – and to serve the world.  Contemplating and eating more of that which comes directly from the Earth brings me closer to, and better prepares me to serve he who (might have) created it.  Be well.  rc

8 responses

  1. I guess I have an angel on one shoulder, and a devil on the other. The angel appreciates your thoughts and values the zazen of the daily exercise and eating that I do that is so intertwined. The devil is thinking that perhaps rather than assign Hail Mary’s at the confessional, coupons for the appropriate number of Big Macs to be eaten would be the next step in our road of good intensions.

    • Hmmmmm. What are we Dr.J, me included, if not little fleshy bags of contradiction. I’ replying to this from the line of a place called Pedro’s Tacos. I just try and win 4 days out of every 5 — religously!

  2. I can’t think of eating in this manner….being an addictive personality, I have to absolutely down-play all of the energy that exists around food. I get into trouble if I allow ‘it’ to have an honored place … sorry to say. GOod article, though, as always……….

  3. I am certainly no shrink Laurel, but perhaps putting the emphasis on the preparation might take it off of the food. For those rare occasions when the “Soup Maven” cooks soup, perhaps you could approach it this way.

    As always, thanks for the kind words. Hope you are still walking and peddling on occasion.

  4. If food is prayer, I was in heaven during my recent two weeks in France where food is worshipped and all who grow, deliver, prepare, consume are considered lords. The chef in the kitchen is as noble a profession as being a duke! Believe me, we ate with a duke whose reverence for the food he served us was as hallowed as the three hundred year old old portraits of his ancestors which he included on the tour of his mansion. Funny thing is, the French are not fat because they understand completely the concept of eating well and eating in moderation and the TIME they take to eat a meal shows reverence for the act itself. Oh la, la, la la! Looking forward to seeing you soon, Roy! cc

  5. Thanks for those thoughts Connie! The experience of the meal, rather than the experience of getting full from the meal — that’s something foreign to many Americans.

    Can’t wait to hear about the trip — and the Duke!

  6. Pingback: Shower Power… « Roy Cohen's Contemplative Fitness

  7. Pingback: Roy Cohen's Contemplative Fitness

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