In his famous work, “8 Weeks to Optimal Health”, Dr. Andrew Weil asked readers to do many things. And many of his ideas were ahead of their time.
For example? He told readers to go through their cupboards and throw away anything containing partially hydrogenated oils.
Many said this was ridiculous. Most don’t say that anymore.
But some of the lifestyle habits he advocates for in the book are very old. And one of those habits is “giving thanks.”
Weil says that, even if one does not believe in a higher power, studies show that saying a “prayer of thanks” before meals aids digestion and generally can improve mental and physical health. In a sense, being “grateful” is an important component to living a good, fulfilling life.
Life, after all, can only be sustained, sadly, in taking life. We all get our energy, in the end, from the sun. And the “vehicles” by which this energy comes to us are the plants, animals, and animal products we consume. Living beings that die so that we might live.
When I think about this, I’m reminded of the wisdom of Native American culture. Upon shooting a deer with a bow and arrow, a Native American hunter would thank God in prayer for placing the animal in his path, and then actually thank and “apologize” to the spirit of the deer—explaining that he needed the deer to feed his family.
All of this can be linked to our lifestyle theme for the season—Breathe.
Our efforts to remind each other to take a moment, stop the chatter in our minds, look at the world before us, close our eyes, and “Breathe” are centered on mindful living.
Mindful living notices the gifts we are receiving. Shelter. A working heating/cooling system. The hug of a child. The beauty of music. The comfort of clothing. The wisdom of a friend. The joy of laughter and perhaps a glass of wine.
And yes, FOOD.
Saying “grace” is good for us because it stops us and makes us mindful that we are being given a gift.
I hope, this Thanksgiving, that gift will include for you the joy of gathering with friends and family and that we will all “breathe” and be mindful of these gifts as well!
Peace to you as we enter the joyous, and busy, holiday season!