Yum: Living Well as a Spiritual Act

| August 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

I’d been trying to make a plan to get back to a good, balanced place this summer, after a chaotic spring that left me wanting to crawl into bed and stay there for a few months.  Part of the plan is to build more quiet time into my life, and so when I received the email invitation to invest 15 minutes of each morning meditating with Deepak Chopra’s voice on his online 21-Day Meditation Challenge, I signed up. It’ll be good for me, I thought. Just sit quietly and chill. How hard could it be?

Now, most days I have trouble sitting still long enough to EAT, let alone sitting still long enough to just, er, sit there. Waiting for the gong. Imagining that my butt is going numb. Trying to keep my thoughts from crowding in on me. Mostly thoughts of—I’m sure you’ll be surprised—food.

Shepherd’s pie came up a lot during those meditations.  Rosalind Creasy’s recipe, to be exact, with the flaky crust, the tender vegetables blanketed in a heavenly tarragon cream sauce. Or sometimes the perfect caprese salad, made with tomatoes still warm from the sunny garden, only mashed between two pieces of thinly-sliced, grilled ciabatta bread. The napolitana at Lucky Pie,which makes me cry.

As the voices guiding the meditation ebbed and flowed, I sat in a hedonist’s reverie of food, feeling like a complete loser at the inner work game. Until day 14, when I sat up a little straighter.

Did he just say “Yum?”  Yes.  Yes he did.

“Yum is the seed mantra to open the heart chakra,” he purred.  “On your exhale, say ‘Yummmmm.  Yummmmm.  Yummmmm.’ ”

So I did. It was like a food slideshow from Serious Eats in my head. Pizza (yummm), street corn in Mexico (yummm), mimolette cheese (yummm), pesto (yummm).  After yumming for ten minutes, the gong rang and I went in search of more juice on this mysterious mantra:

” In this exercise, we focus on opening our heart or Anahata chakra, located in the center of the chest. This is the chakra of love, compassion, peace, and acceptance. The sound vibration associated with the heart chakra is “yum” and the color is a vibrant emerald green. Begin by closing your eyes and focusing on your heart. Visualize a beautiful green light that nurtures and bathes your heart in pure love. Take a deep breath, and on the exhalation, say “yuummmmm” aloud in one long syllable.”

(Meditation for Healing | Healing the Heart | Chopra Center)

Apparently, the repetition of the sound/vibration of the mantra “Yum” (written Yam by many),  is said to help open the heart and release the flow of love and compassion, and generally feel more connected at a deep level to everything in life.

Happy birthday to me, I say.

Yum is something I have always said a lot, at least ten times a day it seems, mostly involuntarily. I see, I taste, I yum. And every time I say it, I always feel a warm rush inside, like a hug I give myself. Yum says, “I’m throwing out all the old puritan programming that says I don’t deserve to eat, drink, enjoy, experience this.”  I am here. I am only this moment, with this perfect Rocky Ford melon, this ice-cold Tommyknocker wheat beer, this sunset on the porch.

Yum is the secret handshake between the parts of me that work hard, do right, and live well. Eating responsibly and luxuriously has the effect of making me feel kind – to myself and my body, and to the world of people that keep me fed and sheltered.  This could be the guy who carefully tends his cows, who produced the milk for my cheese. Or the lady who used to be an executive secretary but quit to follow her lifelong dream of owning own organic bakery.  Or even just my poor underappreciated, overworked body, into which I’m choosing to  NOT pour a bunch of toxic junk today, so it is better able to do the job of protecting me from things like cancer and diabetes.

I would not make a very good yogi.  But I know what Yum is.

Namaste, and please pass the ciabatta.


Category: Food, Mental Health, Uncategorized

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