Sip on a taste of goodness

What is the best drink or meal you’ve ever had?

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Sitting at Bali Silent Retreat with my breakfast.
Sitting at Bali Silent Retreat with my breakfast.

What is the best drink or meal you’ve ever had?   

I’ll never forget the taste of Gatorade after running the mile as a teen on the island of Guam. The sweet electrolyte to salty evaporation. That blue liquid slid down my thirsty throat, revitalizing my sweaty body, coursing through my hot veins. Contrast that to a mindless spring break during college in Cancun, Mexico. Plopped at an all-inclusive resort, why not have an electric-blue colored cocktail, complete with fun umbrella? The night ended with a tequila-shot black out on the dance floor, followed by an inevitable hangover. 

A few New Year’s ago, I was leading meditation and yoga at Bali Silent Retreat. Before 4:30 a.m., I snuck into the dark kitchen, waiting patiently for the kettle to warm. We were encouraged to go slowly. Yes, watch the pot boil. Tea to steep. I also stuck my hand into the cookie jar so my stomach wouldn’t grumble while I was holding a 45-minute meditation session and subsequent hour-long yoga class. Only after that stretch was breakfast ready. And, it was silent. Just me, my food and the view of bright green rice paddies in the risen sun. I learned not to fill my thoughts early on with noise, and savor each moment with each bite of homemade bread, local papaya and duck eggs. 

We eat everyday. In the modern real world, we’re sometimes on auto-pilot: a robot sitting in front of a computer, trying to do three things at once with two tabs open, scarfing down our lunch while muted on a conference call or letting our coffee sit for hours. Or we celebrate with drinks to a tipping point of delusion over presence. I’m not saying we have to always be sober or eat in silence — but why not remember every time we come to the table, we enjoy, appreciate and digest? 

It’s about living and processing fully. 

Next time you sit down to eat or drink, try to have a true sensory experience with the plate or cup in front of you, like when your eyes widen over a long-cooked holiday meal or specially curated cocktail. Look at it at length. What does the sustenance in front of you smells like, how do the textures first swirl in your mouth, are the flavors hitting the front of the back of the tongue ? Like a chef — observe what does it need more of? Think like you — does this remind you of anything else or a particular memory? And while you’re connecting with yourself or interacting with the person sharing this with you, check inside to see if you are full on every level: abdominally, spiritually, emotionally. Remember where this food or drink came from, notice how the F&B affect you, and recognize how much you enjoy your eating or drinking could affect your mood for the rest of your day.  At the bottom of your empty bowl, feel with gratitude how full and satisfied with life you are. It helps everything smell, taste and feel so much more alive. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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