Author Topic: The effect of diet on meditation  (Read 3773 times)

Green Tara

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The effect of diet on meditation
« on: December 06, 2007, 09:35:00 PM »
I may be over-complicating things, but does anyone have a view about the relation between the food we eat, the time we eat it and its effect on the meditation session. On the course we weren't allowed any food after 12:00 pm, I was told it help to meditate on an empty stomach. After the course some days I eat after 12:00 some days I don't and I am not sure if the progress I am making has anything to do with that.
any views?
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Paul

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2007, 08:04:50 AM »
I note that when meditating on a full stomach I tend to space out more than actually meditate, so I try not to over eat and don't meditate during the digestion period if I can help it.... 

Matthew

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2007, 08:25:30 AM »
Tara,

As Paul noted sitting on a full stomach can be sleep inducing.

The Buddha's rules for his monks largely ruled out eating after 12 but not completely. In some ways this may have been about self-discipline but I think it has more to do with a basically healthy way to eat. If you eat a lot of food later than that it will not be digested before you sleep. when you sleep with a full stomach your digestion slows and the food starts rotting. You end up digesting what is basically partially rottten food when it gets going again.

Aside from the proscription against eating meat it was also against the Vinaya (the rules for monks and nuns) to eat onions and garlic and lots of spices as the Buddha said these foods "inflame the passions".

In the end you have to find what works for you, but generally there are two things here as mentioned: sleepy meditation sessions tend to follow heavy meals, and the more of your food you eat early in the day the healthier for your body (and thus mind).

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
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Green Tara

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2007, 05:53:45 PM »
Anders, was it you who wrote in the previous forum that living mainly on juices helped with your meditation? or was it someone else.
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anders

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2007, 10:46:07 AM »
Tara:

Yes, I was the one writing about the benefits of a juice based diet. Having struggled my whole life with lactose and gluten intolerance, I know from my own experience what an absolutely fundamental impact nutrition and digestion have on your well-being and peace of mind.

I know my diet might be too extreme for most people, but I find it tremendously helpful for all aspects of my life. My diet only consists of fruit juice, olive oil, extracted soy protein and carefully chosen supplements (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and so on). I exercise on a daily basis and my over all health is excellent.

I know it has been said a billion times, but you simply have to try different things and find what works for you. Best of luck!

Green Tara

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2007, 09:21:53 PM »
Hi Andres,

I don’t think I have food allergy or intolerance but I just can’t keep food down for long. Someone suggested the juice diet. Is it possible to write a typical day on your diet and what do you do when you are out and about? Do you carry the juice with you? I am not sure if  I want to follow it I just want to have an idea  :) :) :)
"Samsaric beings! Cling not to worldly pleasures.  Enter the great city of liberation”

anders

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2007, 08:29:47 AM »
Tara:

Well if I'm going somewhere over the day I would usually bring one big bottle of juice, and probably mix it with sugar to get enough calories. That's right - sugar is a perfectly fine source of calories provided you get enough of micronutrients from other sources (in my case, juices and supplements). That's where the olive oil comes in - I use a little of it every time I sip on my juice/sugar mix in order to eliminate blood sugar spikes (all fat does that). During a typical day I probably have some juice and olive oil maybe 10-15 times (spread evenly throughout the day) and then in the evening I have my soy protein mixed with water.

Most of the ideas behind this diet I got from waisays.com - you can probably find any information you are looking for there. If you have a hard time with keeping food down, a juice based diet might prove beneficial for you as it virtually eliminates the need for digestion.

Green Tara

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2007, 07:41:38 PM »
Thank you for the link Anders  :)
I was surprised to find that vegetable juices were not included.
Sorry, I don’t mean to change this site to a diet site, I just think they could be related.
 :)
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spiceant

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2007, 05:48:36 PM »
I usually feel very clear minded after not eating for a morning and afternoon and having had some excercise, meals usually return to me to the norm. (and i don't easily start craving for anything, not within a day of not eating)

Green Tara

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2007, 07:59:16 PM »
Interesting, me too I feel better if I don't eat, but then that could be just because of digestive problem. having said that I have done two weeks total fast twice and it was amazing spirtual experiance.

not for the faint hearted though. :)



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Stefan

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2007, 11:14:19 PM »
I never was brave enough to dare fasting  :-[
I had nice three weeks when I only ate fruits. But you can't meditate after a dozen bananas either!
I'm sure it's the balance that does it, and the balance depends on your living. If you work in the fields for ten hours a day, you won't make it long with juice only. If you have a job where you need to think a lot (science), your brain will need big amounts of carbohydrates.
Meditation in general takes a lot of concentration, that's why fasting is forbidden in Vipassana-courses. But I also noticed a decrease of concentration after two plates of delicious indian food (we were lucky with the cook on our course!) ... so I settled for one plate only, and meditation was going on fine. (Then of course I tried to be too brave and had only quarter of a plate the next day - that also caused a decrease in concentration). So - the quantity of food is a balance thing.

But what do you think about the quality of the food? Do you think that vegetarism is better for meditators compared to eating meat? Junkfood vs. Biodynamic? Fruit vs. Chocolate? And do you drink enough water? (I observed that I have problems with my equanimity when I'm thirsty). And then spices: it is said that garlic and onions is bad for any kind of yoga and meditation ... Some say milk is bad, others say milk is good, and so on, and so on ... I'm curious to read your experiences!

Metta & a yummy soy curry to you, Stefan
anicca

Matthew

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Re: The effect of diet on meditation
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2007, 07:31:22 AM »
When I was breakfast cook during a thirty day retreat I decided to turn breakfast into something people would look forward to as I thought it would help get them up to meditate. One day we had strawberry porridge with green tea, next day fried eggs, toast and coffee, then fresh fruit salad and pancakes. Word soon got out and as breakfast was eaten in silence in the shrine room  everyone was there for breakfast ;) (all meals actually eaten this way in this kind of retreat)

:)
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