Thanksgiving, Gratitude, Meal Spacing
My actions and thoughts around Thanksgiving has really shifted over the last few years. When I became more focused on my spiritual growth the holidays became more about service. Can I do the dishes? Can I help watch the little ones while the adults connect? How can I show up to give rather than receive. Maybe this happens with age just as much as spiritual development. Either way, I began to enjoy the holiday even more. I feel happiest when I am serving others.
A few years ago my family started eating our big family meal at noon. I believe it was due to work schedules. Regardless, I totally loved the shift! Ayurveda and modern science agree on the fact people have more capacity to fully digest their food in the middle of the day when the sun is highest. Therefore now, even if I eat more than I know I need, at least it is when the sun is high.
In yoga and Ayurveda we have a thing we focus on called Agni; the digestive fire. When the sun is high, our inner oven fire is increased. We can digest food more easily if Agni is in good shape. It isn’t just thanksgiving, everyday it is more ideal to eat a larger meal in the middle of the day. When my family switched from a dinner meal to a lunch meal for thanksgiving my body said, “yeeeees.”
I believe most people are grateful on thanksgiving. Gratitude is a powerful practice to do everyday. Waking up with gratitude can change your whole day for the better. For me personally, whenever I am tempted to complain or whine it triggers me into breaths of gratitude. I think of a person, place or thing I appreciate in my life while I am breathing.
My gratitude practice has evolved since I created it as a micro habit to do when I catch myself in a contracted state of mind. Now things I wouldn’t have thought I would be grateful for will come into my awareness during my gratitude practice. This threw me for a loop the first time it happened. It still surprised me the second time. Now it is more normal for things that “suck” to show up in my awareness during my grateful breaths. It is an interesting evolution.
I believe everything is happening for a reason and I trust in the universe, all is well, then “bad” things aren’t really bad. Everything just is. The dualism drops away. Change is inevitable.
Our mind likes what it knows from the past and what is comfortable, so when things are new somehow the mind interprets change as bad. Isn’t that silly!
Another thing I find amusing now is how uncomfortable things mean growth. So if something is hard for me, that is actually a great sign I am on an evolutionary path. I celebrate challenges and resistance now. It has been a huge step in evolution. Another shift has been about meal spacing.
Meal spacing is simply that. It takes the body 3-4 hours to fully digest a meal. If you eat more food before you have digested the last meal it creates a traffic jam in the body which then leads to dis-ease. No one likes traffic jams, at least no one I know. Ayurveda teaches undigested food turns into ama. Ama is white, gray toxic gunk which gets stuck in the body and causes diseases. If you look at functional medicine or current science, it is proving what Ayurveda has taught for over 5,000 years. Simply allowing the body to fully digest before eating again is crucial.
All this to say, I invite you to try not to graze this thanksgiving. Eat one meal and wait a few hours before popping something other than water into your mouth. Sipping warm water helps Agni, immunity and digestion. Herbal tea is fine as well. I personally like to eat sweets first to boost the digestive fire, and then I enjoy the main course. I encourage you to experiment this holiday season. See how you feel. If your body is stuffed and you feel lethargic then connecting with your family can be hindered. I know for me if I feel overly full I am less likely to want to connect with those around me.
For me, meal spacing is a non-negotiable. I don’t like to feel stuffed, bloated, or gassy. There is also clarity in the mind with meal spacing. The connection of what you eat and your mind is very fascinating to me. As my sensitivities become more subtle I notice the correlation of food to mental state. Now, I’d rather receive my fullness through connecting with the people I love around me than over eating.
I invite you to pause while eating this year, look around at your loved ones and take a deep conscious breath. Notice what your body is telling you and honor it. If it is full, have a sip of water. No one will be offended if you eat less than you did last year. Honestly, they probably wont notice. I wish you a spacious thanksgiving. Space in the body, space in the mind, and gratitude in your heart.
So much love,