We humans engage in many hobbies, regardless of the end product. I fell into cooking out of necessity, and found it enticing enough to partake again and again, even though my initial ratings were ‘ hmm…interesting’ or the food is ‘different’. The full immersion of all physical senses that is required of cooking, observing all the colors, hearing the sounds, tasting the flavors, feeling the textures with our finger tips and smelling the different aromas, easily lends itself to being present in the here and now. We are fully aware, and notice every change that comes about with time and addition of each new ingredient. The heightened senses tether the fleeting thoughts that easily carry us to the future or the past, and the resulting calmness makes it easy to cook again, despite the less successful past attempts.
The capacity for cooking grows and develops from the devotion to being in the dark and the mystery of not knowing what comes next, yet gingerly feeling our way through. We ease in and begin to trust ourselves and relate directly with our immediate world. We watch our mind and our mood through out, and if it is distracted, stressed or over whelmed we gently bring it back to the kitchen.
However, this isn’t always the case and most of the the time the ‘Oooohm’ transforms to the ‘Ooooh Shiiiit’ in a blink of an eye, when attention shifts from mindful appreciation to mind full of expectation, and the natural desire to please others. To problem solve effectively, we must first, calm the hell down and try to reconnect the consciousness with the senses again. Ditch the rules and the chain of worrisome thoughts, zero in on the activity and respond accordingly. Experience our experience without judging good or bad, right or wrong, and if that’s too enlightened for anyone, we can try to look for the virtue, the positive, the upshot, the glass half full. When we look for fault, we will find more of it.
Cooking is how we become skilled and intimate with cooking. It is a fantastic opportunity to practice being aware and mindful, but let’s not turn it to a list of do’s and don’ts. Stop the thinking and let it flow. Cook with your entire being and be engaged physically, intellectually and emotionally. See if you can turn afflictive emotions, as well as enthusiasm and exuberance, into something edible and nourishing. With appreciation, patience, and a non-judgmental attitude cooking can be turned into a source of awakening.