The Calm before the Storm……Stillness

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Have you ever wondered about ‘the moments before a storm’ – the stillness of the trees, the sea, the grass, the birds. Mother Earth calms herself, quiet falls all around us, an eerie silence envelopes us and everything else that is around. In those moments before a storm at sea, –  the ocean calms and becomes like a flat millpond, a mirror, there is no breeze, no sounds;  just nothing, endless nothing. Then slowly but surely, a movement, sound, from soft ripples forming, then suddenly, the volume is turned up, the waves start, some gentle, some appearing on the horizon becoming massive, tumbling, crushing all in their path.  Chaos unfolds! When I relate the above to my own life, it is in my moments and times of stillness – the quiet before the storm, that feelings, senses, emotion, energy and thoughts start to emerge.  Some are gentle, some are like the thundering sea storm on my horizon! For me, stillness is my practice, it enables me to become present;  present with myself, and present with all that is around me, like the ingredients I use when I create a dish. From stillness a thought may emerge, – “What shall I prepare today”? or perhaps I can feel the taste of something exquisite; or a connection to somebody or someone’s spirit. I therefore invite you to ask yourself right now, “How still am I? How far into my inner caves of stillness can I drop?” This is not to be confused with what one may call meditation. It’s simply just nothing. Take a moment right now. Turn off the distraction around – cast Hello Magazine into the recycling bin (we are green after all), sit quietly, try this right now. Sit or lay comfortably, give your physical body no agenda. Try to connect with your breath. You may want to close your eyes- you choose. Switch off Heart radio, don’t be distracted by David Bowie, –  even primeval whale music will not do here. There is a man strimming his garden behind me with a diesel strimmer, it sounds like the chainsaw massacre. I know for me, now is not a great time to practice being still, I will wait for him to finish. For you my friend though – this isn’t time for a coffee break, and a glass of Pimms won’t help you be still, so no drinks. This does not constitute a work out either; your body will guide you with your breath (focus on your breathing, slowly in, slower out, and explore calm and stillness for a few moments. If you feel your attention wandering, try this simple and not easy exercise. Simply place your attention on the centre of your chest, maybe your heart area; that place where all is good, all is well, the place that is just pure goodness- ‘a really cool place to hang out’. Allow your body, mind and spirit to relax deeper into stillness. If a thought comes, let it, and practice not giving it too much of your attention or your energy- just let it be. You are not your thoughts, you are not your emotions either for that matter, you have them, oh yes, but you are not them! So take these few minutes to practice right now. See how I relate this to my food. The glorious fresh ingredients we grow or buy- they have  no agenda- they can only be present with themselves, they cannot wonder what is going to happen to them in five minutes; they don’t worry what is trending on twitter, if their facebook page needs a new status; they just are. It is  like in the moment before the storm in your kitchen, when all is calm.  Take a moment to feel and experience the joy and wonder of whatever you have in front of you. Connect with the fresh fruit, the wonderful vegetables, the meat or fish – whatever it is. Explore your connection through a few moments of stillness. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘I am gonna cook up a storm in the kitchen!’? Well,  like the sea, the hurricane, the volcanic eruption; FIRST, get still, get present!! Your food will repay you in abundance, taste, feel, aromas, touch, love and joy. Explore this and I guarantee your experience of food will never be the same. You just need to remember a simple practice: GET STILL, GET PRESENT. Try exploring  something right now, a piece of food that you have been yearning to try. Turn off the gas, the blender, the kettle and lay out your abundance before you, place your affection over it like your heart. Take a moment, close your eyes, breathe, then open your eyes and start to explore. “Its like that feeling”- the first time you explored your body or somebody else’s. Close your eyes again- do you remember the excitement, the nervousness, your energy, their energy, breath, the dryness of your lips and tongue that first physical moment when you open your eyes and see!! The adrenaline –  then the aromas, the feel of soft skin, flesh, the air around you, the taste, the touch, you explore, you have permission to look deeply, to touch, taste, feel connection and – this is the cool part; begin to let the love you feel, the goodness of your own heart, travel onwards, transfer your love onto your feast before you. Imagine a basket of fresh vegetables, salads, fruit, even just a juicy apple- just picked. Before it gives itself to you, connect with it in your stillness.  Love your apple;- do you even know what an apple feels like?  Its texture?  Its taste?  Its aromas? Every apple tastes different – you may never realise this unless you honour the fruit. Honour it with love, I promise it will repay a million times more and you will get to truly enjoy the apple of your dreams. Can you describe what it feels like when you take that first bite? Compare this to rushing round, thinking you are starving, what can you eat? Shovel a bag of crisps down your throat whilst spreading some marmite on a cracker because you cannot find anything else in the cupboard. Which would be more satisfying? So try it right now, grab something, get still, get present with yourself, then get still and present with your choice of food. Your heart is capable of pure love, well so is this apple. Can you see or feel where this is leading? Start to practice this GET STILL, GET PRESENT and surely it will become a habit just like brushing your teeth. You most probably just brush, morning and evening, it’s a habit, you just do it, you don’t have to remember to do it. Or like the first time someone showed you how to tie your shoelaces –  it was a bit tricky at first, you practised,  then one day you just tied your shoes. It’s like we do not have to connect to our minds, we just instinctively know what to do. If you begin to apply this process to your connection with your food, from buying/picking it to eating it, you could find your experience of food will never be the same again and you could really reap the rewards on every level. We can only change or make healthy choices in our lives of that which we are aware.

Author: Simon

My early memories of food stem from visits to my Grampy's allotment, six years old, digging, weeding and planting these tiny seeds and tender plants...Wow what an intro…taking this bounty back to Gran, who would make the most delicious meals for us to share…..most of the stuff I had no idea what it was called……but it smelt and tasted delicious….so the journey began… by aged eight, anything I could get my hands on….trained at catering college, a complete waste of time as I already knew all these techniques. Then came girls, a change of career, my wife and children….but I still cooked, learning, watching, practicing my hobby…..never really following a recipe!!! just trusting my hands …. the feel, the aromas, the look and, of course, the taste….re-trained at the tender age of 49 as a Heart IQ Coach…and this is it! Bosh!….got passionate about my passion in life, totally off the richter scale…..inspired by food….all of it….so, 2013 Heart Kitchen is born to share with the world …….sourcing, honouring, preparing, sharing and connecting …..I love it!!!! - Simon