Lina Mbirkou facilitated a session in mindful cooking which started with a silent group meditation, creating a heightened level of awareness and a settling of the mind through the breath. We then paired up and listened to each other describe what our relationship with food encompassed. A brief display of how to prepare traditional Moroccan dishes then followed, with smells of onion, garlic and spice engulfing the room and calling our appetites. We tasted sauces as they were being prepared, our tastebuds sending pure bliss and fulfilment through our bodies.
We then split into teams to create three dishes from a selection of produce including tomatoes, fennel, dates, oranges, herbs, spices and fresh salmon and mussels from the market. Underlying this activity, was the aim to practice mindfulness whilst cooking. That included being in the moment, removing judgment, respecting each other, the surroundings and working as a team towards an objective. In many ways, this resembled the experiential learning environment of our first semester in the MBA. Instead of coming together to create innovative new business ideas, we put our minds to cooking healthy and delicious food.
The act of cooking together was a joyful and artistic experience, enhanced by putting aside other thoughts. By the time we came to sit together at the dining table, each team placing their dishes in front of each other and saying a few words of appreciation, our relationship with food had deepened and we had bonded in a way that could not be replicated in a classroom. Mindfulness coupled with a basic human need to feed ourselves had brought a sense of physical and emotional nourishment.
A night of mindful cooking showed us the importance of being in the moment. Too often, we eat without giving attention to the dining experience. We eat whilst watching TV, checking emails and scrolling through social media feeds. Busier lifestyles and the move towards fast food, takeaway, on-the-go and home delivery dining options contribute towards us losing touch with what we eat and how we feel during and afterwards.
The practice of mindful cooking instills patience rather than hurriedness, allowing time to appreciate preparing and enjoying food with people. In today’s fast paced world, it may be the ideal way to bring new energy and nourishment into our lives.