Many of us have had the experience of discovering that growing herbs or some peppers or tomatoes in pots on a balcony around the back door can lift the spirits. In many urban areasmulti-family community gardens, filled with vegetables; herbs and flowers are burgeoning as more and more people discover that working intimately with the soil for food and relaxation promotes a more conscious perception of the sacredness of all things. Even though most of us cannot grow our own food, we can become conscious of how the food we eat is grown and processed before we buy it at the market.
Food, specifically corn, is life for the Huichol people. Corn istheir main crop, along with beans and some squash. The fields are planted along steep hillsides surrounding the various villages and ranchos where they live in the Sierra Made mountains of Mexico. Corn is the mainstay of the life of the tribe and their ceremonial cycle. The Huichols plant 5 colors of corn: red, yellow, white, speckled and blue, each in a different field. According to Huichol cosmology, not only does the corn resemble a human being with the corn silk like our hair and the ears on the stalk resembling our arms and legs, but each color represents the various races of humankind.
In everything they do, the Huichols are balanced and steady; so too is their relationship with the food they grow and eat. Food is medicine, sacred, and meant to nourish their bodies, keeping them strong so they can gather their firewood, walk miles to their fields or to the spring where they get their water. Food keeps them strong so they can hold their ceremonies and go on extended pilgrimages to their sacred sites. Their very simple diet of beans, corn tortillas and of course, homemade salsa, provides extremely valuable proteins and nutrients that nourish and sustain them. In all aspects of their lives the Huichols recognize that their bodies are directly connected to Mother Earth. All of us are an extension of her body, and the earth and its food sustains us. We should eat, not just to fill up, but thinking of ‘food as the good medicine it is; something to enrich our bodies and minds and help us sustain our well-being.
Be conscious and a conscientious consumer. Eat foods grown without insecticides and produced without chemical additives, whenever possible. Find produce that is locally grown by small farms if you don’t have the space to have a garden. Patronize your local health food stores. In addition to packaged products, they often sell organic fruits and vegetables. Read the ingredient labels on any packaged foods you may buy so you get to now what you are really consuming.
Remember the sacredness of food. How it is nourished by Mother Earth and the elements of air, water, and light. Be aware of what you are eating and slow down to truly appreciate it. Set aside work, worries and other difficulties as to appreciate what it is you have before you. You don’t have to make a big ceremony out of it, but as you eat slowly and consciously, the good food on your plate will be more effectively used by your body.
Remember the steadiness of the Huichol people, their lives of balance and harmony, which has helped them maintain their remarkable way of life for thousands of years. Strive to maintain a steady focus in all you do in your life as well. This kind of steadiness comes in many forms in Fit Soul, Fit Body – for example helping to keep an athlete in rhythm, but also helping anyone of us to maintain balance and accomplish our goals.
By feeding our bodies with the right foods, we can keep our blood sugar levels steady, which enables the body to be strong and allows it to devote its energies to regenerate rather than having to spend time correcting an unbalanced state. When we keep steady emotionally, we have the energy needed to cultivate our souls and fill our beings with the positive attributes of life, rather than having our energies monopolized by dealing with emotional highs and lows.In this way we can walk through life focused, calm and balanced, in harmony with ourselves and the world around us.