“If one concentrates on eating and drinking and the
happiness obtained by that joy of taste, from such
contemplation of enjoyment arises the state of fullness,
which then becomes supreme joy or bliss.” (Verse from Vigyan Bhairav Tantra)

Whatever we eat, affects us to large extent. We can’t always control what we eat. Moreover, the intent with which the food was cooked, directly impacts our emotions and thoughts. You don’t know what the other person was thinking, while cooking food. Once, I heard a story from Mahabharata, which goes like this : Duryodhana asked Shakuni to suggest him how to make Bhishma fight Arjuna in war. Shakuni suggests him that next morning, when food is being served to him, you just cast your gaze on it once. The effect of his gaze was such, that at after the first morsel, Bhisma said, “Today, Arjuna will die at my hands.”

So, here, I am sharing some techniques which I use to make eating and drinking a spiritual practice so that it doesn’t affects my spiritual growth. Before I start eating, I first chant Mahamrityunjaya mantra and Navarna mantra mentally, with my gazed fixed on plate. This I do to remove any negative energies. Then mentally I offer it to Shiva and Shakti tattva inside me and then I thank Ma Annapurna for the blessing. Then, as I eat, I do one of following techniques. We all are different, so you can choose any technique that suits you most :

  1. Chant a mantra : It is the simplest way. With every morsel of food, chant a mantra mentally. It’s your choice, if you have a guru mantra, chant that or if you have affinity to a particular deity, chant the mantra of your deity.
  2. Offer it to deity : This is my favourite. If you are devoted to a deity, offer each morsel to your deity , mentally concentrating on image of your deity. Don’t forget to infuse it with love and devotion. Vidura’s wife offered the banana peels to Krishna and Kannappa Nayanar offered flesh to Shiv. I eat onion and garlic, but I offer it to them and it doesn’t affects me. Your pre-conditioning will say, this is tamasic, this is rajasic, etc. God is beyond 3 gunas. If you think too much, do next techniques.
  3. Offer it to Fire : Imagine a fire within you while eating food. For this, first you can do tratak on candle. This will form an image of flame in your mind, which you can meditate on while eating food. Or if you have seen a fire sacrifice, a homa, you can imagine that fire sacrifice in your mind and offer everything you eat to that fire. So your eating will turn into a yajna. In Sanskrit, fire is also called ‘Pavak’, purifier. So this fire will purify whatever you eat. Visualization, if carried on for longer times, directly affects your physical reality. I learnt this technique from Aghori Vimalanada’s Aghora triology.
  4. Eat mindfully : Or, simply be mindful of what you eat. Eat slowly. Look at each morsel of food mindfully. Feel it’s aroma. Feel it’s taste. Forget everything and just feel it dissolving in your mouth. This will become meditation. You can do this when you’re tired of mantra chanting and concentration.

If you practice these techniques for long time, slowly, you will surpass the boundations of food. Then food will not become an obstacle. It will become worship. 

This Mahashivratri, I tried to test myself. I observed the toughest fast of my life. Till 6 pm I ate minimal amount of food (that too because my mother forced), and just 3-4 glasses of water. After that I didn’t eat or drink anything till I had done the 4 ratri pahar puja. I broke my fast at about 6 am. The whole day and night I didn’t feel any hunger or thirst. Food is just one way to derive energy. Pranayama, visualisation, music and meditation are other ways to derive energy. These are other forms of food in one way.

Thank you. I offer it to my guru and everything, Shiv and Shakti.