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eat with attention and calmness.

People abuse their bodies during mealtimes. Admittedly, life is paced these days, but even so, eating is not to be rushed. You have to treat your body like you would feed your own child. You wouldn’t force food quickly down a child’s throat would you? The body is not a machine separate from you or your mind. It won’t work properly if you are not paying it the correct attention. Just because God has given you a body that is a miracle in many, many ways, it doesn’t mean you can mistreat it.

The nervous system stems from the mind, and the nervous system controls your digestive system. Think logically. If your mind is tense during eating, how is your digestive system? Tensed!

The following experiment was performed in a yoga college I stayed at in India. The story was related to me afterwards.

A young student of the college entered the laboratory area of the college, and was trapped in the room by a few other students (this was part of the experiment). The unwitting subject of the experiment was bundled to the floor deliberately to provide him with a genuinely stressful reaction. The student was then verbally abused and taunted for a while (all part of the test!) – And then, without letting him relax, they told him he must have an x-ray done! The poor student then had his stomach x-rayed under a genuinely stressful condition. The student was then told of the set-up, and after play-fighting back, the experiment was concluded by taking an x-ray of his stomach under normal conditions to compare.

This x-ray was then taken to the local doctor. Upon seeing the x-ray of the stressed stomach, the doctor immediately said words to this effect, “this person has lost use of his stomach in 3 areas, we will need to operate and remove those parts, as they appear to be dysfunctional and could eventually cause more problems. We will also need to take him in for further examinations” The students told the doctor what they had done, that they had intentionally put the boy under severe stress. Then they pulled out another x-ray, this time of the boy under no stress at all, the doctor then said that “yes, it appears that the boys’ stomach is normal!”

This experiment shows the dramatic effect stress can have on a perfectly normal stomach – that a doctor can actually view the stomach as being diseased and malfunctioning!

At the cost of the young student’s peace of mind for a few minutes, the yogis saw that stress has a direct effect on the operative performance of the stomach and thus logically, the entire body (via the stressed mind and nerves). So, imagine you are stressed, rushed, angry, tense, arguing, fighting, upset, excited, depressed or any other emotion during eating. Your stomach goes into a type of dysfunctional spasm which renders it incapable of digesting properly, if at all. That is why it is so important to relax and eat.

When you eat with attention, tasting the food properly, and chewing it well, two good things happen. Firstly, the stomach gets a signal of the type of food that is in your mouth. When it knows what it is, it sends out the appropriate acids and enzymes into the system to deal with the substance. If you throw the food down, the body is unprepared. Eating slowly with attention also affects the saliva digestion that takes place in the mouth, and perhaps surprisingly, absorption of food into the system also takes place under the tongue. So the longer food is kept in the mouth (20-30 chews, or until a pulp), the better.