Nurturing Pleasure

Pleasure and gratitude are two of the most important ingredients to add to any meal. One compelling option for exploring pleasure in the kitchen is to sensually appreciate the foods themselves. A wonderful practice is to focus on one sense each day, deepening your perception of sight, touch, hearing, scent, taste, and essence. Really look at the outrageous contours of that potato or the tiny speckles or great swaths of color on the apples. Notice the sounds as you slice, cut, or consume food. Discover the symphony of sweetness, sourness, or spiciness in your mouth.

Gratitude is the other extremely enriching ingredient. Especially in the fall and winter, when there’s a chill in the air and food production goes into dormancy, the bounty we have to nourish our body, mind, and soul is truly astounding to remember. For inspiration and romance, read some of the odes of Pablo Neruda—such as “Ode to Tomatoes" and “Ode to Maize,” wonderful celebrations of so many things that are mistaken as commonplace.

Gardening and buying local products invite a direct appreciation of what it takes to produce food. To hear a farmer or friend talk about the devotional act of babying seedlings, dancing with the elements, and finally bringing in a crop adds a profound dimension to appreciating the food that appears on our tables. The journey and hands that helped each item we eat—the olive oil, the grains, as well as our more locally produced goods—support us in living in yoga, in union, expanding the profound reality that, as Swami Kripalu taught, the world truly is one family.

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