For me, spiritual practices extend beyond meditation or worship and become a total way of living. Instead of compartmentalizing spirituality to ritual services, going to church, temple, kirtan or the yoga studio, I bring spiritual practices in to every aspect of life. There is a beautiful instruction in the Baghavad Gita that says "perform EVERY action as sacred, and you will be free." This extends from mindfulness during every day activities like washing dishes, to how we interact with our friends and lovers, to how the choices we make at the grocery store.
About a decade ago, in what seems like a different lifetime, I had a cooking show called Gen's Guiltless Gourmet and you can still hunt down videos online. That transformed into Change the Menu Change the World, a non-profit dedicated to educating people about how food not only shapes our health, but the health of the entire planet. A core principle of Change the Menu is a dedication to non-violent foods. In the Jain tradition the concept of non-violence is called Ahimsa. This is the same principle followed by Ghandi and Martin Luther King. It is the same principle found in the vows of Buddhism. The Jains are dedicated vegetarians and even go so far as to not eat from plants where killing the entire plant is required, like digging up a head of garlic. Where the Jains might be going to the extreme, we can still adopt important practices that will help re-direct the health of our bodies and the health of the planet.
I know that every dollar I spend at the grocery store echoes around the world. With each purchase I am adding to the toxicity of my body and this Earth or I am helping to keep my body and the Earth clean and beautiful.
I have tried to adopt into my own shopping a mindful awareness of each item; where does it come from? Was anyone or anything harmed in the making this product such as child labor, slave labor or environmental toxins? I am very careful of whether a food product is going to do harm to my body or the planet such as GMOs and other toxins.
I consider my nourishment to be spiritual practice, and with mindful shopping I can relax and know that what I am eating is free from harming myself or others, which brings a new kind of gratitude and joy to each meal.
Change The Menu will be operating a sustainable, non-profit farm on the grounds of the Sonoran Desert Sanctuary and will be in charge of the menu's and recipes for the retreats. Look for recipes posted in upcoming blogs!