Suppression

Dietary moderation

Category: Actions

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

One of the major distractions during attempts to obtain spiritual experience is our Autonomic systems and particularly the ones related to the processing of food and drink.  Our organs of digestion, excretion and food processing can not only take away vital energy as they do their processing, but they can send us endless messages about how they are getting on – complaints [I can’t cope with all the fat in this], messages of congratulations [that was a good steak], messages of pain [this was far too spicy], messages of  exhaustion [too much, too much….], messages of activity [look at me I’m having a great time working on this little b**ger].

You get the picture.  The Autonomic system is sending us feedback the whole time, if we give it the chance, about what is happening ‘down there’ and those messages are a block to spiritual experience.

If you are bloated or full, have indigestion, feel sick, feel hungry, feel thirsty, or feel tired from having drunk too much or have a headache from too much alcohol, your mind is going to be diverted all the time by the cries for help coming from your stomach, kidneys, intestines, liver and your head.

So, if we want to have a spiritual experience, we need to reduce the Sensations and suppression involves the moderation of our diet in such a way that we minimise the messages related to food and drink.  So this is our objective – to eat and drink in such a way that the messages from our organs is minimised [if not eliminated].

Background

 

‘Gluttony’ in many religions is the opposite of temperate behaviour.  It was once looked on as a ‘sin’, but we tend to have lost the meaning of why it was a ‘sin’.  It was a ‘sin’ because it got in the way of spiritual experience.  If you long for food and drink, and eat like a little porker, you may become sleepy or suffer from indigestion and this then becomes a distraction.  Your senses will still be very active.

 

Numerous religions incorporate the fundamentals of Dietary moderation in their approach, as do a number of other ‘systems’.  It tends to be a ‘core technique’.  They differ a little, however, in what they advocate.

Hindus  - are vegetarian on the whole and generally are moderate in their use of intoxicants.   

 

Buddhists  - imbibe no intoxicants, avoid the majority of stimulants, although occasionally they do have tea, they avoid all alcohol and are generally vegetarian on a permanent basis.

 

 

 

Stages of Meditation – Acharya Kamalashila with commentary by the Dalai Lama

For these reasons, it is recommended that they give up eating.... meat, garlic, onions etc.  Appropriate food should be eaten in moderation, for indigestion can cause havoc with meditation.  What's more, those who overeat can hardly stay awake.

 

 

Shamanic cultures - Many shamans refrain from all alcohol, fats and fatty foods, red meat [especially pork] stimulants - coffee, alcohol, etc

Sikhs  - refrain from smoking and allow no intoxicants.

Quakers, Shakers and Methodists - refrain from intoxicants, including alcohol and smoking and also adopt a moderate dietary policy 

Method

You do not want to be diverted by your food and drink processing systems, so if you eat before you intend to seek spiritual experience, it has to be a light easily digested meal. 

It is better not to have had any form of heavy meal or stimulative heavily spiced meals such as curries – or stodgy filling meals etc.

Nothing to give you indigestion, nothing too fatty, nothing with acidic content. 

A kipper with lemon is not a good idea.  Nor is a chicken vindaloo.  I think you can see the rationale here.  You do not want messages coming in from any of your body organs telling your mind that they are not happy and need help.

And on a long term basis, it helps to eat healthily.  Again, healthily does not mean you become a vegetarian or eat nothing but fruit and drink green tea.  The objective is to keep your body healthy enough so that it never provides a diversionary stimulus. This is described in a separate activity Eating for health.

In fact a vegetarian diet can be hugely counterproductive to spiritual experience because a diet of beans, lentils and root vegetables in quantity give you wind and there is nothing more diverting from purpose than a restrained fart.

Here are some basic rules

  •  
    Drink regularly - Always have something to drink when you are thirsty, drink a moderate amount on a fairly regular basis, do not make yourself thirsty.
  • Drink only water or weak tea - Drink only plain warm water or weak fruit, rooibos, green or white tea [less or no caffeine and less or no tannin] for several hours or days before the session so that you have no complaints from your liver.
  • No coffee – a stimulant and an irritant.
  • Eat regularly - Eat small meals on a regular basis, do not eat one large meal at the end of the day or the middle,  - eat regularly and often, but only moderately small amounts each time.  Never get hungry – always top yourself up with something easily digested and tasty  that will satisfy your hunger pangs without stimulating you.
  • Warm food and drink - Have warm but not piping hot food.  If you have cold drinks or cold food the digestive system has to expend a great deal of effort in warming it up for you and you get all the messages related to a system which is having to work quite hard expending energy to get energy.  If the food or drink is very cold, the system is also in a state of shock.  Imagine someone putting an ice cube on your nipple and you will get the picture of how your stomach reacts to very cold food and drink .
  • Cooked food works better – cooked food is easier to digest.  Raw food, however ‘healthy’, requires more processing so you get more messages.
  • Avoid fatty food – fat takes a lot of digesting, whatever fat it happens to be – so called good fat and so called bad fat – they both take a lot of processing.  The gall bladder in particular struggles with a lot of fatty food.  It can give up [which is what happened to me once when I was working in the USA] and send messages of great alarm and pain.  The liver also has to work overtime, it too sends its own messages of complaint.  Excessive fat can cause bloating and wind [farting and burping to you and me] not at all conducive to spiritual experience.
  • Moderate the egg intake - If you eat eggs limit your intake.  Eggs contain fat and can cause constipation.
  • Go organic – whatever ‘they’ put in or on our fruit and vegetables the body has to find a way of processing.  It may be able to process toxins, the body is a very adaptable and wonderful thing, but it will complain a lot in the process.
  • Avoid processed foods – for the same reasons as above. 
  • Eat only fresh warm naturally ripened fruit – so anything in season is good.  Out of season fruit is kept in storage using chemicals and then ripened by exposure to chemicals, and these can produce a reaction – see ‘go organic’.
  • Avoid anything genetically modified – some genetically modified food is harmless, all that has happened is that the plant or similar has been obtained by what would have taken years of breeding and cross breeding – it is ‘natural’, but the process has been speeded up a bit.  But there is also a lot of very unnatural genetic engineering going on, which produces food which is to all intense and purposes a toxin.  So best to avoid all foods in this category until someone, somewhere sorts out the problems.
  • Avoid sugar – sugar produces energy which has to be stored as glucogen in the liver or turned into fatty deposits.  This requires a lot of work from your poor body.  If you don’t need the energy, you don’t need the sugar.
  • Limit carbohydrate intake – if you are not very active.  There is nothing wrong with carbohydrate such as potato, rice, polenta, couscous and so on in moderation, but if you go overboard, the excess carbohydrates have to be processed and require a fair amount of processing by your systems.   More messages and heat!!
  • Nothing straight from the fridge – allow any food you are going to eat without cooking [such as fruit]  to warm up to blood heat.  Cold food has little taste, so the temptation will be to eat more than you actually need to get the sensation of taste and the pleasure from food.
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks – not on a permanent basis, but before any attempt at spiritual experience.  Acidic foods can attack the stomach lining  - vinegar, lemons, limes, various sorts of pickles and sauces made with vinegar. More messages.
  • Avoid spices – curries, chillies, pepper and other strong flavours which can act like stimulants and irritants.  Gently spiced food – a clove or two, a pod of cardamon, a half teaspoon of cumin is not going to affect your digestive system and may indeed help a bit with the process, but chilli powder just irritates the system.  Messages of pain result 
  • Avoid alcohol – which acts as both a stimulant and a depressive.  The liver and stomach both have to work hard to process alcohol as it can contain a lot of sugar and is usually turned into sugar by the digestive system.  It can also act like an irritant to the stomach.  The kidneys can send out a wealth of complaints from alcohol, great cries of despair.  Afterwards your head does the same.  
  • Avoid carbonated drinks – the gas reacts with the acid in the stomach – lots of burbling.
  • NO stimulants - refrain from all ‘intoxicants’. 
  • Avoid red meat before a session - red meat takes more digesting than white meat or fish
  • Avoid lightly cooked, fried  or raw ‘ alliums’  - so avoid undercooked or raw garlic and strong onions.  Mild very slow and long cooked onions are fine in moderation, so a stew, slow cooked with one onion will have little effect and will provide taste without affecting the stomach
  • Go for bland – plainly cooked vegetables, plainly cooked meat, rice, polenta [made with water], mashed potato.  Rice pudding, tapioca, semolina – the ‘nursery diet’ or the ‘old people’s home’ diet.

There is nothing wrong with meat per se but it needs to be easy to digest.  Chicken is easy to digest and relatively bland these days.  Low fat mince works too.  Fish is very easily digested on the whole, so fish is good.  All in small quantities.

Anything pungent such as blue cheese or well ripened brie is not a good idea,  It is always excluded from the diet in many modern workshops which aid spiritual experience.

I thus think you can see the logic here. The food needs to be easily digested and relatively bland but nourishing and tasty in order that you are unaware of the digestive process, feel well and fit and also not concentrating on the remnants of sensory experience from the meal.

Rice, fish, unseasoned cooked vegetables, fresh ripe sweet fruit, chicken are all good.

How it works

 

It may be helpful to refer to the generic description of How spiritual experience works to understand the context of this activity

Dietary modification on its own does not produce a spiritual experience, but in combination with other techniques it is very effective.

In general you will actually feel better, aside from any spiritual experiences you may have.

The way it works is by suppressing Nervous sensations and the messages from the Autonomic system, so a twofold effect.  It has the added benefit that as long as the food is tasty and you enjoyed the meal, then your 5 senses won’t be giving you messages whenever they see food – because you will have had the food.

Observations

None on its own, but numerous in association with other activities.

Related observations