The Sanskrit word āhāra (आहार, pronounced: AA-ha-r) is synonymous with food or ‘nutritional input’. And if we grapple with this notion of ‘food’ a little more, a question crops up…can ‘food’ be more than just what lies on our plate?
When we think of our bodies, the definition of ‘āhāra’ is fairly straightforward…what we eat is soon reflected in how our body transforms (cue the old adage “a healthy diet leads to a healthy body”). But, if we think of food and health in a more holistic sense – it begs the question: what if ‘food’ is also what we see, hear AND think?
Yogic texts refer to our five sense organs collectively as ‘jnanendriya’ – or sensory faculties that help us absorb stimuli from the external world. This stimuli is then channeled to the “mind” (another layered concept that I explore from a subtler yogic perspective in this blog post) and we eventually arrive at our ‘impression’ of our external reality.
Back to our food-on-the-plate example, what we perceive as ‘good food’ is a combination of desirable inputs from all our sense organs (“the food tastes, looks and smells good”) AND a validated projection from our ‘mind’ that aligns with our vision of health (“this food will make me healthier”).
By grouping our sense organs all together – yogic texts indicate a kind of equality in our sensory perceptions. In other words, this invites us to consider: what if what we ate was just as crucial to our health as what we thought? How would that encourage us to consume content on social media, for example? And what if being healthy also means that we watch what we eat + how we speak to others + what we think of ourself?
The questions can get as creative as your definition of ‘food’ itself! I hope these thoughts serve as breadcrumbs on your path of ‘good health’, and you rediscover what that means for you. If you’re curious about further readings or references, please leave your comments below 🙂
with love and gratitude,
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