Published on April 30th, 2020 | by Marlaina Donato0
The Kitchen As Sacred Space
by Marlaina Donato
In our busy lives, grabbing food on the run or eating while standing at the kitchen counter is often the norm. Designating the kitchen as a practical sanctuary and seeing the sacredness of food not only makes it more conducive to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but also gives our spirits much-needed satiety.
“If we don’t touch the transcendent—emotionally and spiritually—physical nourishment won’t fill us up,” says Ronna Kabatznick, Ph.D., former psychological consultant to Weight Watchers International and the author of The Zen of Eating: Ancient Answers to Modern Weight Problems. “Seeing the kitchen as sacred is something that represents gratitude, beauty and blessings.”
Delia Baron, co-author of Better Together Kitchen: Beautiful Recipes to Share With People You Love and the host of seasonal food workshops with partner Ronnit Hoppe in Melbourne, Australia, concurs, “The kitchen is often the heartbeat of the home and the best place to gather, feast, chat and create beautiful memories and rituals. The kitchen is also a place to connect to our food source.”
Fun and Felicity
Preparing meals the old-fashioned way can slow us down and foster mindfulness, but Kabatznick emphasizes that cooking is irrelevant. “Look at the kitchen in terms of possibilities: ‘What can I create in this space?’ You don’t have to turn into Julia Child,” she says, adding, “You could be eating Chinese takeout or a prune; it’s all about mindset and simple rituals like saying a blessing, appreciating what we eat as a great gift.” Kabatznick encourages everyone to eat with dignity, and this includes using the good dishes, putting fresh flowers on the table and eating with awareness.
Seeing the kitchen as the inspired nucleus of the home, it’s natural to add favorite items like art prints, colorful jars, sentimental treasures, dried flowers and other seasonal delights to nourish daily contentment. Conjuring an element of joy adorns the mundane. “Put on some music to put you in either a peaceful or joyful mood,” says Molly Larkin, author, healing practitioner and blogger at Ancient Wisdom for Balanced Living (MollyLarkin.com),in Corrales, New Mexico. “Turn off the TV and give everyone in the family a job. Laugh throughout the meal preparation. Dance as you cook. Do the same thing if you live alone.”
Preparing food, whether a healthy smoothie or a gourmet weekend dinner for two, is a way to express love for ourselves and others. Baron loves the presence of plants, lovely ceramics and interesting platters and dishes, and notes, “Families can definitely shop, chop, cook and meal-plan together to make the kitchen a fun place to be. Doing these things together is very bonding and sends the message that looking after yourself is important.”
Meal prep can be enjoyable and even relaxing in a calm environment. For Baron, organization is key. She advises, “Having all the ingredients you need and working in a clean space also helps make the experience rewarding.”
The smallest of kitchens can be abundant and organized with the help of a little innovation. A simple bookcase can offer additional shelf space for dry goods, bowls of produce or favorite cups. A small end table can hold a favorite tea pot and a jar of gourmet dark chocolate. A beautiful basket can hold go-to spice jars, and a pretty pitcher near the stove can accommodate a multitude of cooking utensils. “If you can’t fit it all out of sight in a cabinet, get some glass jars, fill them with grains, flours and legumes and line them up on the countertop. It will be neat, and you can see what you have,” suggests Larkin.
In the end, a well-nourished body and spirit fosters a beautiful life and in-spires the same in others. An advocate for supporting the hungry in all communities, Kabatznick underscores local efforts and seeing the big picture of our relationship with food: “Taking out the garbage and cleaning up is also a sacred act if we bring that attitude into it. Food connects us to the Earth, the moon and the stars. From the seed to the truck driver—everything and everyone involved—the process of food is miraculous.”
Marlaina Donato is the author of several books and a composer. Connect at AutumnEmbersMusic.com.