My ability to eat the food I am offered has gone down during my time here. Now, even when I am hungry, I am unable to stomach the starchy white rice or the sauces drowning in palm oil. The smells make my stomach twist. The family keeps encouraging me to eat the communal rice dish on which they all eagerly feast, and are perplexed that I never join in. I feel that I’m being rude in my refusal of the food, but even social graces can’t get me to eat. Read the rest of this entry
I’ve experienced a different relationship with food since arriving in Guinea. I was blessed during my stay in the States to be extremely spoiled by good eating. In California, much of my time was spent with health-conscious friends who also possessed a talent for cooking the often garden-fresh meals I enjoyed. On the east coast, my family kept me well fed with home cooked favorites and restaurant meals.
Here in Guinea, the food is nourishing and freshly made, but I must confess that I don’t relish it. I eat to nourish only, rarely for the flavor or to enjoy my meal. This brings to mind a discussion we had towards the end of my yoga teacher training.
The teacher was leading the class in a study of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and she was speaking to us of the importance of withdrawing attachment from the material world in order to cultivate a stronger connection with the spiritual. Moksha, freedom from attachments, is the ultimate goal of practicing yoga. Patanjali suggests the complete severing of all attachments to achieve this goal. In creating this separation, Patanjali speaks of the importance of drawing away from the narrative of our lives, observing the passage of emotions without allowing ourselves to be caught up in the sticky details, and to stop identifying with the many masks we wear.
I found myself agreeing with all of these points and fully understanding the importance of making this separation between the atman, the eternal self within, and the ego. However, I recoiled from my teacher’s next point that we must also break attachments with the joys of life. She said that we should not fully immerse ourselves in the joy of music, dance, or relishing of good food. Read the rest of this entry