By Maria Benardis, faculty at NewEarth University’s School of Health & Wellness
Editor’s Notes: This content is excerpted from the book/eBook, Cooking & Eating Wisdom for Better Health. Photos courtesy of the author.
Maria is presenting an online, l!ve Workshop in 2020, RETURN TO AGAPI: Intro to Ancient Greek Health & Wellness hosted by the NEU School of Health & Wellness; learn more: https://newearth.university/courses/agapi-based-health-wellness/
Love is the cause of unity of all things. — Aristotle
The Ancient Greeks believed that we are a spirit of energy. The ancient Greeks introduced the world to the concept of energy (from the Greek word energia) and its effects on humans, animals, plants and one’s health. The ancient Greeks knew that if the food they were cooking had good energy and was made with agapi (unconditional love), their dishes would be masterpieces — and masterpieces they were.
The Greek word for love is agapi, which is a deep sense of true love, with no expectations. Agapi denotes unconditional love. Unfortunately, we have developed distorted views about what love is today and have placed too many conditions, judgements and limitations on what love means and how it should be expressed. Agapi is a joyous, harmonious state of mind, absence of judgment and free of chaos. With agapi, worry, stress, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety and competitiveness cannot exist.
The ancient Greeks believed that the purpose of agapi was to unify things. It is vitally important that anything we do whether it is buying out ingredients, cooking, eating or the way we live our life that it always be executed from a place of agapi.
In this blog we explore how to purchase agapi ingredients, how to cook with agapi and how to eat with agapi.
Let medicine be thy food and food thy medicine. – Hippocrates
Nature itself is the best physician. – Hippocrates
Hippocrates treated the body as a whole and taught a natural healing process based on wholesome high energy ingredients. Unintentionally and without awareness, people purchase and eat foods containing toxins, chemicals, pesticides and that are genetically modified (GMO), riddled with preservatives and artificial colorings and flavorings, without understanding that harmful food is harmful to the body.
In order to heal and nourish our body and mind, we must eat wholesome high energy ingredients. As close as possible to the plants of nature not manufactured in a manufacturing plant.
Pesticides or as the word literary means ‘kills pest’ have the potential to cause ill health, which could ultimately lead to serious illness or death. The kind of energy emitted by chemicals and pesticides lowers or diminishes our spiritual energy and our ability to connect with ourselves. Our bodies can only remove so many chemicals out of our system; the rest accumulate in the body’s tissues and organs and affect the way they function. Chemicals, genetically modified food (GMO) and pesticides interfere with the energy flow and DNA of the living organism. They alter the harmonious balance of the food and when consumed alter our inner balance and make us ill, both physically and emotionally.
When shopping for your ingredients choose ingredients that are certified organic wherever possible and GMO free. If your grandmother doesn’t recognize an ingredient then it is unlikely that your body will. Choose to cook with ingredients that are in season and with the rhythm of nature.
Supporting food and companies that respects us and nature — good clean organic ingredients that nourish, enhance and restore balance and harmony to the body — will show that you care about the environment. Making these conscious choices sends a clear message to growers about the type of food you expect and how you wish to be treated. If we did not buy from these sources and thus subsidize their practices, then they would quickly get the message or go out of business. When we purchase unconscious ingredients, we are supporting the destruction of our environment and ourselves.
It is important to be aware of what I call the ‘impact imprint’ that ingredients can have on us and the environment. By mindful of the environment it is grown in. The manner in which an ingredient has been treated also determines its energy and structure and whether it retains a positive or negative ‘impact imprint’. For example, how was the chicken raised before it or its eggs ended up on your dinner plate? Was it raised in a fresh, clean outdoor environment or in a small, constrained cage and fed chemically riddled feed? The chicken raised in the outdoors will have lots of healing and harmonious energy but the second will not. This unwanted energy is then absorbed into our body when consumed and can make us unbalanced, unhappy and ill.
We all need to be aware of what we eat. What does your food say about you? Where did your ingredients come from and what type of energy is attached to them? Choose a diet that is kind to you and the environment. The body is a gift for which we are responsible for. What we feed it and what energy we put into it will determine how we feel and think. When it responds well to wholesome food, we will have good health and the energy we emit to the world will be positive and healing.
Nature was the fundamental source of every technical skill. … a cook who is uneducated and hasn’t read Democritus from beginning to end along with Epicurus Canon … kick him out … he needs to know… eaten in the proper time brings a benefit… what good can result when one characteristic is mingled with another and entangled in an unharmonious mix? … I don’t serve the food randomly understand? Instead I arrange everything harmoniously. – Athenaeus, on the Ancient Greek cook, Damoxenus
In ancient times cooks were also versed in sacrificial rights and understood the spiritual connection of food to life and the gods. They would pray to all the Olympians, gods and goddesses alike. They prayed for safety, health and blessings for all and enjoyment for their present blessings. This was a part of the cooking and eating process. In modern Greece this ritual is still practiced — blessings and thanks are given before food is eaten and a toast to everyone’s health is followed by, Stin ygeia sas (‘to your health’).
Only food cooked with good energy and agapi can truly nourish and heal our bodies and souls. The presence of the heart over the presence of the mind is necessary when cooking from a place of joy. If you put love in your cooking you will give love to yourselves and others.
When you cook with agapi, all things come together in the kitchen. Your recipes work out and it brings you great joy and happiness. When you cook with stress or anger, you become separated and disconnected. The result is that your dish is unlikely to work out and you will be unhappy. We ultimately choose whether we go into the kitchen with an action of love or an action of anger. Under the rule of agapi, all is in harmony; everything comes together into a single stable sphere and all the elements and energy are of equal proportions. In the end love conquers all and it is the solution to everything. It is this state of mind that leads to health and happiness.
When cooking it is important to be mindful of our energy and how we are feeling before we go into the kitchen. When we are not feeling good and at peace then our energy is not harmonious and joyous, which can lead to imbalances in our emotional, physical and spiritual self. Since ancient times, texts have pointed out that the vibration of the cook’s feelings affects the quality of the food. This is why it’s ideal to eat home-cooked meals whenever possible.
Create a cheerful mood when cooking. Dance, play some music, sing, or do as I do and get a tambourine and play a song. Let your inner child come out once in a while and don’t take cooking too seriously. Pleasure and joy from cooking can be obtained when there is humor involved.
At feasts, remember that you are entertaining two guests, body and soul. What you give to the body, you presently lose; what you give to the soul, you keep forever. — Epictetus
A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety. — Aesop
We do not eat merely to top-up the energy fuel tank in our bodies and for our physical wellbeing. We eat to heal our spirit and to nourish the soul.
It is of great importance to eat in a state of peace and joy. Eating is meant to be a spiritual experience — a way to connect to your energy and the energy of others to nurture the body and soul. I believe that it is disrespectful to answer phones and watch television when eating, particularly when in the company of others. This interrupts the harmony, the flow of energy and the time that is needed to enjoy a meal that in the end nourishes and heals your body and soul.
Mealtimes are a time to form a relationship with your food and to savor the flavors. It is vital that you take the time to chew and eat your food slowly. By eating slowly, you are cultivating an awareness of your food and the ingredients. Eating and chewing slowly also relaxes the body and your nervous system and enables you to produce more saliva, which helps the digestive process. Eating fast and on a deadline creates stress and inhibits the proper digestion of food.
When you focus your attention on your food you derive more pleasure from each bite and ultimately eat with balance and harmony. Close your eyes and take a deep breath while savoring all the flavors your meal has to offer. Notice how the food makes you feel and how your body reacts to it.
When you eat slowly you are giving yourself time to assess whether you have satisfied your hunger and whether the food serves its purpose of giving your body good energy and nourishment. When we eat with peace and joy and with the absence of any thoughts, other than the enjoyment of what we are eating, we give our body the chance to absorb the nutrients and good energy from the food.
Eat an abundance of food with high vibration energy and nutrients such as organic nuts, fruit, vegetables and fresh herbs. Keep to a minimum food such as meat, poultry, sugar, white flour, and foods that are highly processed, microwaved, chemically altered, genetically altered, contain chemically additives or have being mistreated by a person. They have little or no good vibrational energy and nutrition to add to your body. Include fermented foods e.g. Greek yoghurt in your diet for a good gut health. Remember your body is the temple that houses your soul. Treat it respectfully and compassionately.
We are free to think and choose and therefore free to make conscious choices about our ingredients, food, cooking and eating practices. It is important to take responsibility for our choices and to understand our ability to transform how we live and to make a positive difference in the world. We deserve clean, healing food that is good for us. When we respect ourselves and nature, we begin to eat respectful foods from respectful sources.
Maria Benardis teaches a unique online, l!ve Workshop, RETURN TO AGAPI: Intro to Ancient Greek Health & Wellness hosted by the NEU School of Health & Wellness.