serve up dinner with a side of silence tonight

by Alice Dommert
October 10, 2013
Food/Nutrition, Wellbeing, Yoga

In the busy world we live in, I yearn for the nights when my entire family is able to enjoy a hearty home cooked meal together. I have a vision of how these dinners will unfold. The table is set and filled with wholesome food, the ambience is serene, and the conversation is genuine filled with laughter and reflective of the love we share for each other.

Unfortunately, the truth is that sitting down to a meal together even once or twice a week is a feat within itself. On top of that, once we do sit down together, the dinner is rushed and the conversation is chaotic. Everyone talks over one another eager to share the events of the day until one person wins the floor simply because his voice is the loudest.

The discussion continues in this way until someone abruptly leaves the table to move onto the next commitment and suddenly everyone is gone leaving me to ponder what just happened, I feel unfulfilled physically and emotionally. Does this sound familiar?

With our hectic lives, it is even more important that we create opportunities to sit down to eat meals that nurture our bodies and our souls. This perspective inspired me to try something new. I decided to make an effort to eat together wherever that might be; at a picnic table next to practice fields, at our offices, or, when schedules allow, at home. I started making dinners to go, ambience included.

I also decided to institute a new way to begin our meals. Rather than rushing to the table, grabbing a seat and digging in, once everyone is seated, we begin with a few minutes of silence. I encourage each person to begin the silent period by shifting his focus from the thoughts racing through the mind to the breath traveling rhythmically and consistently through the body. Then I ask everyone to begin to transition into his role as a family member and set an intention to enjoy the food, and share in the time we have together; to be present, listen intently without judgment, and discuss what is important to him.

The result is astonishing. Within minutes it is as though we are sitting with an entirely different group of people. The energy shifts from one of anarchy to harmony. The conversation is authentic, we feel connected, and the food is appreciated and savored. Rather than hurrying, when schedules allow, we linger at the table and occasionally we play a game. When it is time to go, we leave the table nourished in our hearts and souls by the conversation and our bodies by the meal. We move to the next activity feeling fulfilled, grounded, and rejuvenated.

The next time you have a meal whether with family or alone, try starting with a few minutes of silence. Take the time to connect with your breath and create an intention. You will be surprised by the impact this simple practice has on your experience of the meal and the rest of your day.

Baked Vegetable Chicken Packets (from Jonny Bowden’s Shape up Workbook)

Boneless, skinless chicken breast (1 piece per person)
Mixed vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, carrots – 2 cups per person
1 chopped onion
1 large sliced tomato or equivalent in cherry tomatoes
Parsley, oregano, and pepper to taste

Use a large piece of foil for each piece of chicken. Place chicken in middle, top with vegetables, parsley, oregano, and pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Seal tightly leaving a little space inside for steaming. Place packets on a cookie sheet. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees – Remove from oven, add tomatoes and onions, seal again. Bake another 10 minutes

Be Well,
Lora Spector
deliver me wellness
New Jersey yoga team

Alice Dommert

Alice Dommert

Founder, Wholebeing Architect

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