With the risk of sounding cliché, Karen is probably an angel. With her delicate frame, graceful demeanor, and powerful vision- it is hard to believe she is of this world. Before I even knew her Sarah and I would joke about how she was our girl crush. There is just an aura about her that is incredible. Her art, her work as a hypnotherapist, and her spirit are make her such an inspiring friend to have- I am so grateful.
But she is real, and this earth angel has real life things going on- just like us! As founder of “The Sacred Plate” she is connecting people to something she is incredibly passionate about – the sacred act of eating. So many of us struggle with food, health, and the idea of a perfect body. Lately I have been so happy to see all her inspiring photography on my Facebook feed along with ancient prayers and meal time blessings. Karen is creating a ”community serving to heal from disordered eating, food obsessions and other addictions through sharing the wisdom traditions that speak to us.” I encourage you to follow her here!
I asked Karen to write a piece for the blog, anything she wanted! And I couldn’t be more thrilled to share her beautiful words with you…
A Benedictine bishop once said, “If you want to see how people relate to God, just watch the way they eat.” Before you skip over the meaning beneath the monk and begin imagining your lunch hour friends staring at you as you shove your organic, non GMO, gluten-free, sweet potato chips into your mouth, slow down and ask yourself: How does the food on my plate equate to something so ominous, something I can’t even define? To begin with, food is what separates us from plants and other life forms, for the most part. Plants convert sunlight into energy in much the same way we convert food into energy, but let’s just say that for the purpose of this message, we as humans are unique in that we cannot live without food (yes, there are reports of living liquidarian, breatharian yogi legends out there somewhere… but lets be real here). Additionally, we are a unique species in that our rational brains have evolved to give us the opportunity to have a meaningful relationship with our modern day soups, salads and smoothies. But notice that plants can’t pick up a cupcake, or two, or three with their curly little leaves as they expand across the garden in search of purpose, waiting for the right moment to flower or fruit, reaching the apex of their beautiful and purposeful existence in perfect harmony with the hundreds of thousands of life forms surrounding them. Even half a cupcake would weigh most plants down! Each plant knows exactly how much nitrogen to extract from the soil, how much water to soak up and how much sun to swallow. A tomato plant doesn’t have to read a thousand and one magazine articles to know its had too much potassium this past week. It’s built in! So, are we really that different from plants? Don’t you too have an innate inner-knowing to let you know in various ways that you’ve had too much or not enough?
In essence, food and water are what binds us to our bodies and to this planet. Not only is bringing something from the outside to the inside a sacred act, it is what constitutes life and therefore connects us the physical manifestations of God . Without drawing breath into your body, you would not be alive for more than a few minutes. Without bringing water into your body you would not survive past three days. And without food your body would shut down in a little over a month. How often do we live our day to day lives in true recognition of the magnificence of our physical bodies? Looking further, have you ever consciously reflected on how the design of your body was created and thus evolved to live in perfect harmony with the conditions of this planet?
All major religious and spiritual traditions have a sacred relationship with food. I just can’t fathom the idea that indigenous and ancient peoples had issues that mirror what millions of us experience today… overeating at meals, restricting the diet to alter our physical shapes, or consuming foods that don’t serve our individual well-being knowingly. The Japanese bless their food by saying, “Itadakimasu” which translates to “I humbly take your life.” Hindus see each food experience as a daily interface with our most basic and most advanced lessons of respect for resources and attachment to illusion and pleasure. Buddhists teach that food can be used to satisfy hunger, but also to liberate the self by making the connection of the interdependency between food and long life, and between food and awakened consciousness. The list goes on, but the message is the same. Food is the link between flesh and spirit.
So how do we live with this truth? How do we integrate it and infuse it into our intentions as we nourish ourselves with the recipes we already hold close to our hearts? The answers for each of us varies just as much as the recipes and traditions do themselves! My advice is to search deep while you start to stir the pot. Begin to look at your relationship with food and how it reflects your relationship to the source of divinity in your life. Would a Native American prayer connect you to where your food was grown? Would the Islamic ritual of cleansing your face, hands and feet set the intention of purity you want to reflect as you receive? Or maybe even the traditional Christian practices of creating community and strengthening family through sharing food is what will inspire you to feel the divinity radiating from the table? Whatever you resonate with, allow yourself to put it into practice. Feel empowered and deeply moved to awaken this instinctual drive to experience food as God. Remember that you are blessed with thousands and thousands of meal-time opportunities to eat with intention, and for what reason? To gradually and gracefully develop the potent yet humble fortitude required to invoke the ancient ways and fully absorb the sacredness of your plate!
(all photos by Karen Prosen)