AN EMBODIED PRACTICE
Exploring the Function
of Food in Your Body
I talk a lot about thermal natures in my practice. Why are they so important? Ellen Goldsmith, author of Nutritional Healing with Chinese Medicine, and a dear inspiration to me, defines thermal nature as the categorization of foods according to their capacity to warm or cool the body. It is the qi, or life force, of a food and informs us of the direction in our body it will take + the effect it will have on us. When we understand what our inborn strengths and weaknesses are, we can choose thermal natures that will work to support the internal balance of our body.
How are thermal natures decided?
One way is to observe the environment in which a plant grows. What is the land doing around the growing plant? Is is drying up or becoming damp? Is it growing up and out or down and in, deeper into the Earth?
The second, and more common way, is by turning inwards and deeply observing through meditation; a widely accepted practice in East Asian traditions that use food in this way. The specific dietetic philosophy I use in my practice comes from Korea, called Sasang. The foundation of their thermal nature guide was developed by a monk named Master Sunim over the course of 30 years. They've been tested over hundreds of people with varying constitutions until an unanimous agreement was landed on.
This dedication to meditation Master Sunim has is often beyond most of our scopes. However, that awareness and knowing is in you and holds the power to transform your relationship to food.
Here's the practice for you to begin observing and to say hello to food in this way:
TIPS AND WHAT YOU'LL NEED
A single piece of food, one that's wrapped or unwrapped. Typically something like a piece of chocolate, a raisin, or piece of fruit often works well.
A quiet place to explore that's free of distraction
Try to keep quiet during the exercise and focus all of your attention on the piece of food in front of you with a soft, meditative gaze. Approach the exercise with an open mind and a gentle curiosity.
I encourage you to read through the practice once before doing so you're able to keep focus more intently.
To begin, slowly pick up your piece of food; if it’s wrapped, don’t unwrap it yet.
Place it in the palm of your hand and notice the colors and shapes of the food or its wrapper. Feel the weight of it in your hand. Pretend like you have never seen this piece of food before and examine it closely.
Touch the food or packaging with your fingers and feel its texture. Pay attention to any sound the wrapper may make. Examine the food or wrapper noticing all of the colors. Look at its different sides and notice any place that the light reflects or, any shadows.
If your food is wrapped, begin to slowly open it up. Listen for the sounds of the wrapper tearing. Notice the movement of your hand, fingers, and arm muscles as you open it.
Once it's unwrapped, or if your food was never wrapped, raise the piece of food up to your nose and give it a smell. Slowly breathe in several times and focus on the different smells. Does smelling it trigger anything else in your body?
Now slowly take a small bite of your food, but do not chew it or swallow it. Notice the feeling and taste in your mouth. How does it feel as it gets softer? Notice the taste and sensations on your tongue. Move it around in your mouth. Try to notice the moment where you feel like you want to swallow. Once it's there, slowly swallow, focusing on the sensations. Notice any lingering tastes or sensations.
Finally, take a moment to make note of any sensations or movement of energy. Maybe…
↠ Your body warmed up
↠ You got the chills
↠ Your mouth became dry
↠ Excessive saliva formed
↠ You felt something in your head
or down in your toes
There is no wrong answer. Whatever you noticed is a clue into the foods thermal nature and how it works in alignment with your internal landscape.
Either way, I'd love to hear.
If this practice resonated with you, you may be interested in my free 6-week series, Eating for Your Constitution where we'll dive deep into East Asian dietetics, specifically Sasang, the tradition I use in my practice. You can sign up for the next round right here.
If you're ready to dive in, here's my 1:1 available for us to dive deep into your internal landscape and find out which thermal natures will serve you best. Go ahead and use the code LANDSCAPE for 10% off.