For many, cooking may feel like a chore. Rustling up some dishes after a long day at work is just tiresome. With the prep, cooking, and cleaning, you’re looking at over an hour of work.
But you can gain a new perspective on your time spent meal prepping. Cooking doesn’t always have to feel rushed or something that you do on auto-pilot while letting your monkey mind go overboard with its chatting. In fact, of all the tasks we do in our daily lives, cooking may be the best opportunity for us to train our minds to stay present.
We have all tried various ways to control our thoughts and feel more relaxed and calm. Meditation may be the most effective, but there are quite a few valid alternatives. Mindful cooking is a great choice for anyone who feels like they don’t have that much time in their busy schedules.
Actually, if you cook in your daily life, you must be thinking that you’re already kinda doing all this. Let me ask you a few questions then. Do you manage other chores while cooking? Do you watch TV while stirring your soup? Do you keep checking your phone even when you have just finished chopping onions or peeling garlic? Leaving aside your filthy phone screen, that’s not a mindful approach to cooking at all.
So, what exactly is mindful cooking? It’s the process of anchoring your mind to the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the culinary task at hand. Maybe a comparison can shed some light on what I’m saying. Sometimes you just want to finish a book you’re not really enjoying. You start counting the pages left, maybe you wonder how much time it will take, and you just skim through it as fast as possible like one of those user agreements. Now, if you read the book with focus, chances are it will offer you a whole different experience. You might end up feeling empathy for fictional characters or admiring the writing skills of the author. Something similar happens when you either approach cooking as a chore to be dealt with as soon as possible or as an opportunity to focus and stay present.
In following a recipe – whether written or in your mind – and by staying focused on it, you get to practice awareness and, in turn, feel calmer and more content. In meditation, you usually use your breath to keep your mind from wandering. In mindful cooking, every particular step of the recipe is something you can anchor your mind to. Allow yourself to be entirely present with the physical sensations in your kitchen. Let’s say your mind starts wandering off, and you begin thinking about your day or the issues affecting you. Gently focus back on the task at hand. Allow yourself to fully enjoy the smell of mussels cooking in a pot or the sound of water boiling. Consciously focus on each ingredient you’re about to use, on its taste, its appearance, its texture. And please, don’t multitask. Turn off your TV and put your phone in another room.
What’s great about mindful cooking is that not only you do get all the benefits of meditation, but – who knows – maybe everything you cook will be a little tastier too.