Eating with your hands is the innate way of eating for all human beings on earth.
This dining practice not only allows one to be more present in the act of eating, but significantly enhances the sensorial experience one gets from food.
Ayurveda also recommends eating with your hands as a simple practice that boosts digestion.
In this podcast episode we transcend social conventions and eating etiquette, conquer prejudices and break down the immense benefits of eating with your hands.
IN THIS EPISODE WE DISCUSS:
The Importance of Proper Digestion
In Ayurveda digestion is one of the most important factors to be considered when diagnosing the state of a person’s health.
Digestion leads to two possible byproducts:
Good digestion often leads to the generation of Rasa (also known as The Essence of Life), which is a thin fluid that nourishes and sustains all bodily functions.
Poor digestion often leads to the generation of Āma (toxic undigested material), which lodges in weak points in the body, clogs channels, and perpetuates various states of disease.
A great percentage of most ailments can be traced back to a low digestive fire (Agni), poor digestion, and the production of Āma.
The 5 Senses In The Act of Eating
To make the most out of the eating experience it is important that we include our 5 senses in the act of eating.
This further informs the digestive system that it is time to eat and digest, triggering the production of digestive enzymes & hydrochloric acid in the gut.
The Ritual of Eating: How To Make The Most Out Of It
First of all, it is important to be present in the moment, addressing one thing at a time. Avoid unnecessary distractions (phone in hand, T.V, computer, etc.) – Eating with your hands means you can’t check any of these. With food all over your fingers, you are stuck doing one thing at a time, and this is the time to eat.
When the mind is being stimulated by these types of devices the sympathetic nervous system (in charge of fight-or-flight response) becomes activated.
Proper digestion requires the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (in charge of the rest-and-digest response).
Eating with such awareness is essential for optimum digestion and proper delivery of nutrients. People underestimate how much this can make a difference and a lot of the time – How you eat is more important then what you eat.
Using your hands to eat allows you to feel the temperature of the food and avoid burns (if you can’t touch/grab it comfortably, don’t eat it).
Some other recommendations for the Ritual of Eating:
Don’t eat when you are angry, depressed, emotionally unstable or immediately after physical exertion. This is the number one “rule” for eating in Ayurveda.
Sitting cross-legged on the floor encourages the right pressure to assist with digestion. The pancreas is squeezed to release digestive enzymes well and you don’t overeat because you realise when you are full.
Once your food is served, do a prayer before you start eating. Give thanks to nature for providing you with the food and can thank whichever deity you worship.
CHEW eat morsel at least 32 times, food should be like liquid.
ENJOY in nourishment. Even if you are eating ice cream, enjoy it! (guilt free)
The Mudra of Eating with Your Hands
When you eat with your hands, you bring all of your fingers together to hold a piece of food – this is in itself a mudra called Samana mudra.
This mudra enhances digestion and assimilation of food, by means of the samana prana.
The five fingers also represent the 5 elements or mahā bhūtas (fire, water, earth, ether & air).
The thumb represents fire 🔥, the pinky represents water💧, the ring finger represents earth 🪨, the middle finger represents space ✨ and the index represents air 💨.
When using all 5 fingers, you are sending a message to your body saying: “may whatever it is that I’m eating bring balance to the 5 mahā bhūtas (and the three doṣas) that reside within me”.
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