You Are Where You Eat

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Settling into my new neighborhood of Clinton Hill, I’ve got a bit of a routine. I found a yoga studio, familiarized myself with Citibike and have begun scouting out the local gastronomic and culinary offerings, creating a diet and eating rotation.

My practice is now focused on ingestion and mindfulness of the things I put into my body. Ingestion is another category of spiritual techniques that I observed in my travels, though sometimes techniques from holy sites prove instructive as much for what not to do.

One of the things I love about moving into a new place is being greeted with an empty refrigerator. Unfortunately, my first Airbnb apartment in Brooklyn had not only a leaky toilet and closet of filthy clothes, but the refrigerator was full of unmarked leftovers in gelato containers with a note from the host to “enjoy.” I remedied the situation and the next day moved to Clinton Hill.

Lessons From The Holy Mountain

I sought a diet and eating routine, conscious to not overdo it like one of the destinations on my journey. On Mount Athos, there were no set meal times, and even if told the time, it would be tough to show up promptly. Mount Athos uses Byzantine Standard Time, sunset marking midnight on their clock, and they adjusted the clocks only a few times per year.

During the services, the Abbot got hungry and stopped the service. He led the other monks out of the church. The rest of us pilgrims fell in and shuffled to the mess hall, conscious to follow the leader. No one sat until the Abbot sat, no one began eating until he took his first bite, and no one ate more once he stopped. A typical meal lasted no more than ten minutes.

Everyone ate while keeping an eye on each other’s plates – equal parts concern over taking/leaving fair shares of the family style servings and eating fast enough to beat the Abbot. I saw one pilgrim stuffing bread into his pockets. Later he told me that he just couldn’t eat that fast and had a Greek-loc plastic bag in his pocket for his afternoon snack.

The Abbot was the pace car, and as he neared satiation, the surrounding monks increased speed, creating a louder and faster spoon-to-bowl cacophony of clinking. This reached a crescendo as the Abbot burped, set his spoon down, and everything stopped. When the Abbot finished, he stood, prompting everyone else to stop eating, stand up and follow the procession back into the church to continue the services.

Back in Brooklyn

Mindfulness does not necessarily require a strict schedule and “fast food” attitude. Here, I’ve got my set meals, morning fresh fruit and healthy snacks for an afternoon pick-me-up, though realize part of the beauty of living in the community is exploring options.

Pizza NYC Spiritually Promiscuous
My Perfect Slice, Every Time

There are some great bakeries, the second-worst dive bar in New York and overpriced bodegas and organic stores.

I hit the farmer’s market on Saturday to pick up fresh fruit and veggies – food that has positive energy characteristics and, this being Brooklyn, is locally-sourced, organic, gluten-free and vegan, or as a visiting friend observed, “So many adjectives!”

If you eat dead, toasted, fried or frozen food, you will feel dead, toasted, fried and frozen. ~ Dharma Mittra

I strive to be vegan, though by consciously choosing the verb (I can’t really fail to strive), I have room for a slice of pizza, in fact I found my perfect slice of pizza heaven right around the corner.

How are you mindful about what you ingest?


  • Your description of the Abbot and the mess hall made me laugh! I actually attended a class called ” slow down” and it was all about mindful eating. Ignoring the typical times to eat meals and listening to your own body. Doing nothing else while eating; no working, reading, watching tv, etc. So the focus is more on enjoying, relaxing, and slowing down while you eat vs. what you chose to eat. But I’ve noticed when I practice this , that when I’m truly paying attention, I’ll only eat one cookie vs. four! Yes, that is progress!

  • I am mindful of what I eat all the time. It’s become part of my life. What you feed your body is so important for health and longevity. Also, chewing and eating slowly is as equally important. 🙂

  • For me, eating mindfully and consciousness in eating is quite different. Eating mindfully is more of paying attention to eating and it’s more present, while conscious eating is more reflective – say, where the food comes from, who prepares the food, how the food arrives on the plate which tend to evoke gratitude. Re dead food – there are similar views I learned in ayurvedic eating too of choosing fresh and cook-just-right… over overcooked, overnight and processed food. Sometimes urban lifestyle doesn’t give too much choices of fresh food – noticing the slight dismay I tend to ‘mitigate’ this by sending positive energy to the food before eating, and also being conscious and appreciative that at least there is food to eat, which many people in the world do not.

  • I’m doing my best to be mindful with what I put into my body. Eating mostly organic and non-gmo, avoiding processed food, etc. It’s not always easy with a houseful of males that like meat and potatoes, and it’s so expensive, which is disheartening because it means too many people out there can’t afford to eat well. Your website/blog is great!

  • Fascinating. Truly.
    And though I do not want to live in a world without meat or dairy, I admire those who do 😊 Well written.

  • I am a conscious eater, the mindfulness is a little harder! I find it really hard not to at least read or listen to something while eating, doing nothing but eat seems like a waste of valuable time, it is a challenge, but one I am striving for 😊

  • There is no doubt, we are what we eat. But sometimes, maybe often, I just want to be that slice of Brooklyn pizza !! ☺☺☺

  • Sorry to disappoint you, but I have one very basic guide for what I ingest. ” If it’s not moving it’s fair game.” Makes for interesting meal times. And you simply won’t believe the variety of fare. From fried pizza to thrice baked cabbage souffle, it’s all wonderful.

  • My sister is this week-end deep cleaning her basement Airbnb apartment for the next guest arriving Monday..I’ll have to tell her about the option of just leaving the previous guest’s food in the fridge with a note to “enjoy!”…HAHAHAHAHA!!! 😮

  • Great post – mindfulness (too little) and eating (too much) are both things I struggle with! As a life-long vegetarian it’s easy to slip into bad habits and choices on the assumption that if it doesn’t contain meat or fish it must be a ‘skillful’ choice. I forget that even vegetarian food can sometimes be unethical in terms of how it is made and where it comes from.

  • I wanna eat newspaper with curry sauce …what am I .WHAT AM I !!???
    sorry day 4 of a 21 day detox think am delerious …. 😀

  • A great Rabbi was asked by a student, “What is the difference between you eating an apple and me eating an apple? We both say the same blessing, thanking the A-mighty for this apple before biting into it.” “No, my son, – answered the Rabbi, – you thank the A-mighty in order to eat the apple, and I eat the apple in order to thank the A-mighty.” That, to me, is mindfulness in eating. To be thankful for the blessing of life, of health, of everything that grows on this beautiful Earth under the beautiful Heaven, and ultimately, for food we choose to put in our mouths – that’s mindfulness.

  • I love pizza and especially Pizza made in Brooklyn. Although it has been ages since I have visited Brooklyn I remember the pizzerias were excellent. No fake cheese and watered down Ragu sauce. But the truth is that we are what we eat. A fact that is hard to face when you want a great big ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles.

  • The story of the Abbot really made me smile. Surely that was the opposite of mindfulness! Your quiet journeys are interesting and uplifting. Enjoy the ride…

  • Well written. I only wish I was half the writer you are. Yes, I can tell a story, but you do so with verve and aplomb. Well, done. I look forward to reading more.

  • If you eat dead, toasted, fried or frozen food, you will feel dead, toasted, fried and frozen. ~ Dharma Mittra

  • I love your ending to this post 🙂 cause I can relate to it! I too strive to further improve my eating habits yet sometimes, there’s nothing better than a portion of lasagna 😆

  • “I can’t really fail to strive.” Brilliant! Two of my daughters lived in Brooklyn, now one is in Norway and the other in upstate NY. Very glad to meet you! God bless you in your journey of spiritual understanding and wisdom!

  • Hey Peter! Just ordered a fresh pumpkin beetroot salad while reading your post, but seeing that pizza slize is too good! I have to say, I wouldn’t call myself Vegan either, sometimes it happens that there is cheese in a meal and as long as I am mindful of it, and try to take things and life in general lightly, I can bare the thoughts and just enjoy it 🙂

  • Hi Peter! Trying to get around to catching up on some of your interesting articles, so will probably pop up here occasionally! I’m not really very good at this whole blog thing, but trying to get better…. thanks for you excellent example!

  • I am mindful of what i eat but every now and then, I have to admit I fall off the wagon…intetesting reading

  • Great description of how we should eat. The Dharma said it so well. Wishing you well in your new neighborhood and living mindfully. I’m not all the way there yet, but making daily progress.
    Thank you for following my blog, “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy. I’m now following you as well.

  • I try to eat pretty well…better than I used to…however, I do rely on frozen fruit and veggies, mostly, because under my care, fresh veggies instantly turn into a gruesome science experiment. Apples fare pretty well, though. *laugh*

  • Being a Brooklyn native, my mouth was watering seeing that pizza. There’s definitely nothing like it! But I’ve personally have come to the place of mindful eating recently. I’ve taken notice about the complimentary aspects of how I feel about myself, how I view myself, the food I eat, and the way I care for my body. What I realized was that I have had a poor view of myself, didn’t feel good about myself; consequently, I ate poorly and didn’t care for my body. However, I’ve recently made a turn around and now eat healthier, exercise, implement spiritual practices to make space for God’s love in me, and have seen my life be for the better. When we slow down and become mindful of what we eat, it does help us increase self awareness but I believe also awareness of others.

  • You weren’t long sourcing out the good food in your area anyway! I love the quote you added in, it’s spot on! I’ve been very mindful of what I eat lately due to the fact that I partake in a high intensity sport where diet is very important.

  • Just this morning I realized why I was biting my poor husband’s head off when he walked in at 2 pm or later was because I was very hungry. So I applied my newly learned knowledge and eat lunch when I am hungry and am much kinder when he arrives.

  • Reading this post made me nostalgic for Brooklyn! We sold our Windsor Place condo and are dividing our year between Northeastern PA and Naples FL. As an imperfect vegan, I loved Pizza Plus and Two Boots in Park Slope, and there are so many cool places for coffee and a nosh! Love your photos and great writing! Keep it up and stay in touch.

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