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Sacred Family Meal Times

April 6, 2009

This is something that I have been thinking about lately.  I love sitting down as a family together to share a meal, but I have a bit of a mental block with the cooking part.  I find cooking stressful and therefore try to avoid it as much as possible.  But I was reading an interesting book lately which got me thinking that perhaps I should make more of an effort.

I think that with all the hussle and bussle of our lives, it’s easy to have meal times turn into all business… quick quick eat so that we can move on to the next activity.  And perhaps in the shuffle you’ve lost family meal times all together.   But I think that a real case can be made for the benefits of sitting down and enjoying a meal with the people you love.  Meal times can be sacred celebration of the days events, a time for sharing stories, dreams and a time to grow as a family. I sure you know this too. However you have to put some conscious energy into creating a meal time like the one described above.

Sacred family meal times involve more that just sitting down together.  Although that’s the first step.  This second step is the one I would really like work on.  Have you ever heard the expression “soul food”? In the book I was recently, there was an entire section devoted to mealtime rituals where they discussed the concept of “soul food”. “Soul food is food that is cooked with love, intent, intuition, and a sense of history. It is a living prayer a celebration, and has much to teach us”. Did you know nutritionists and psychologists have studied food to find that food freshly prepared and cooked lovingly by hand has more vital energy than processed factory food? One of their conclusions was that when you cook with love and eat with attention, you are taking in the very stuff of life.

Happily this doesn’t mean that you have to prepare complicated or fancy food (though you can if you want to).  It’s more about using fresh ingredients and setting your intention as you prepare them.  Consciously asking whoever you believe in, to bless the food for your family nourishment.  While cooking pour your hopes and wishes for the people who will be sitting down to eat with you. Focus your intention when you chop, stir, or blend.  Set your intention to use the family dinner to help soothe and smooth out problems in the family. Your loving energy and intentions will infuse the food laying the path for a difficult conversation or hopefully a positive interaction. Then set the table so that it is inviting. Again not necessarily fancy, just inviting. As you sit down to eat, take a moment to express gratitude for the meal. And then as you eat, eat food mindfully, consciously, as a family (this means actually notice the taste of the food). It’s easier to do if you eliminate distractions (turn off the phone and television). Then talk! At supper our little family ritual is to go around the table and share your favorite part of the day. It’s simple and even my 2 year old can join in.

The glue that holds us together as a family is a combination of love, communication, and sheer determination. Putting the effort into creating more meaningful meal times will pay off.

Erma Bombeck said it best “The family – We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together”.

I can guarantee if you set up a regular schedule of sacred dinners, mixed with “soul food”, and a blessing you are going to see your family unit get stronger and find what binds you all together.

Much light and love to all your families,

Marie

ps. The book is Rituals for Sacred Living By Jane Alexander

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