Tag Archives: Digestion

Eating in Peace

Greetings Dear Readers,

新年好 Happy Ratty New Year

What is meal time like for you?  Do you sit down and enjoy a calm atmosphere and allow time for the food to digest?  Let’s get into the subtleties of food energetics.  It’s not just the food itself, or the vitamins and minerals it’s also the atmosphere and our mind.  The energies of our body and mind and the environment we are eating in that play a huge role in how our food is digesting and what we are absorbing.

Ever notice that being around close friends or nice environments, the food always seems to taste good and you feel healthy and nourished even if the food quality isn’t so great?  Why is that? It’s all about the dining experience.  We’re not just absorbing nutrients from food, we’re also absorbing energies through all five (or six) senses.  Everything we hear, see, smell, touch, it’s all coming in to us on some level, leaving some sort of impression in our body-mind.  The energies in and around us are all felt on some level like having antennae which pick up messages from the outside and relays them in.  In fact, our gut contains an abundance of nerve fibres which shows that our gut really is our second brain and shows us why our eating atmosphere affects our digestion.

Here’s a check list of things that Traditional Chinese Medicine finds important to your dining experience:

1. Sitting down.  Eating while standing or moving about creates Liver Qi stagnation according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.  If you’re drinking a smoothie, it’s not such a problem, but with heavier food, help your stomach out and grab a seat.

20080807 - Family Dinner at Bethany Beach - 16...

2. Eating mindfully.  This means close the book/newspaper/magazine/computer/TV/ phone/internet and pay attention to the food.  Appetite and hunger are also mental experiences so being mindful of the experience helps to bring satisfaction from having eaten the meal. Look at the food, enjoy the colours, textures, flavours, savour each morsel and feel the satisfaction as it satiates your hunger and nourishes the cells of your body.

3. Eating in peace.  Keep the conversation calming. Talk about what you’re grateful for, hopeful about and what you’re enjoying in life rather than getting into talk about work, having arguments or debates.  Avoid being too intellectual at meals because the Spleen’s job is to digest both thoughts and foods.  So let your Spleen focus on the food.  Once upon a time (not that long ago) going home for lunch was the ideal scenario, a luxury for those going to a day job or school.  Somewhere around the 80’s came the “power lunch” the idea of having business meetings with co-workers over lunch.  Can be fun if you’re on good terms with your coworkers but can cause digestive problems if you all sit and talk about the stressful job during your lunch break.  The same goes with having dinner.  Try to create a peaceful, light, joyful atmosphere and avoid bringing work concerns to the table.

4.  Give time for the food to digest.  After eating, especially a larger meal, most of the body’s

Martel and van Over have friends for dinner an...

energy is working on digesting that meal.  If you push yourself to do other taxing things like working, doing chores,  mental work like studying or writing then your digestion will be compromised.  It’s good to give your body at least 5 minutes of rest after the meal to just sit at the table and digest.  Don’t be in such a rush to do the next thing.  Slow down a wee bit.  It’s good for your Yin energy.  In TCM, health is a balance of Yin and Yang.  Yang is active, Yin is restful.  Our world has been becoming increasingly Yang and many people are becoming Yin-deficient.  Just relax and feel grateful for the food.  Remind yourself to cultivate some Yin.  There’s a TV channel in British Columbia, Canada where I used to live that during the Christmas season plays a video of a fire place, 24/7.  That’s it, just logs burning in a fireplace for hours and hours, days and weeks.  So relaxing and healing for the Yin energy.  Not surprising, it’s the most popular channel at that time of year.

Bon Appetit!

Yours in health,

Cynthia

The Small Intestine Channel = Spam Filter of Your Heart

Greetings Dear Readers,

As human beings in this modern age we are more stimulated than ever before.  A seemingly endless barrage of sights, sounds and information.  How much is meaningful?  How much is true?  The Small Intestine energy is responsible for separating the pure from the impure.  If the Small Intestine channel is weak, it may not be performing this discrimination function at top capacity.   On a mental level, a person may not be weighing their options correctly to come to the right decision.   Small Intestine energy allows us healthy discrimination or discernment (not the same as judgment).   When this happens we use the clarity of wisdom to decide what we take in and what to leave out.

Today at Sarvodaya's Early Morning meditation
Today at Sarvodaya’s Early Morning meditation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you ignore advertising pop-ups when you’re emailing or doing some internet research?  This is your Small Intestine energy (A.K.A. your “Inner Spam Filter”, as my teacher says) working extra hard so you can concentrate.  In Buddhism this work is actually a type of spiritual practice called “restraining the doors of the sense powers”.  It means guarding ones’ eyes, ears and such by avoiding looking at or hearing things which disturb the mind.  In this way our mind can be clear and sharp.  This kind of a mind allows us to communicate well, make good decisions and focus on what adds value to our own and others’ lives.

Romantic Heart from Love Seeds
Romantic Heart from Love Seeds (Photo credit: epSos.de)

The Small Intestine is the outer gateway to the Heart channel.  Small Intestine is Yang while the Heart is Yin.  The Small Intestine energy protects the Heart (also called the Emperer in TCM) by filtering out energies or thoughts that would damage this inner most aspect of our being.  In TCM, as well as many Asian philosophies and religions, the heart is the residence of the mind/spirit/subtle mind (depending upon which philosophy you ascribe to).

Getting stuck in life can result from not enough sorting through our experiences to inform our actions.  Or once we’ve made a decision, a lack of Gall Bladder Qi is often a cause of procrastination; this decision is made but we fail to act.  The Small Intestine belongs to the Fire element.  Fire=light, a light which can show us the truth, a light on our path so we can see which steps to take next.  During the Fire season of summer, or any time you feel your mind is too busy and not clear, it’s helpful to support you Small Intestine energy by clearing your mental clutter.  Meditation, de-cluttering your space and/or trying to keep life simple allows room for you to gather your focus and sort things out.

Happy Sorting!

Cynthia