The next food trend will come from the yogic tradition: Prana. This Sanskrit term means life energy or life force. ‘An’ means movement and ‘pra’ is a prefix meaning constant. So prana means constant motion. This constant motion commences as soon as we are conceived in our mother’s womb. Prana is an energy that is responsible for our body’s life, heat and maintenance. When we are full of prana, we feel good, we look good, and we feel vibrant and alive - are productive with healthy sustained energy. Since this is a pretty desirable way of being here are a few ways in which to increase prana: from the yogic breathing techniques of pranayama (it is said that prana rides on the breath); from breathing pure, clean air; from exercising without over-exerting ourselves; from walking on the earth with bare feet; from having some exposure to the sun; from having healthy, nourishing relationships; from elevating ourselves through spiritual practice; and from eating prana-rich food.
What is prana-rich food?
It’s food that is organic and super fresh, right off the ground, the vine, the bush, the tree, and even harvested from the ocean. Or right from the udder, freshly laid, or freshly killed. The kind of food you get from the farmer’s market, your own back yard, or the health food store - locally grown and seasonal, full of the energy of the sun, stored in its cells as biophotons. It tastes better, looks better and is full of nutrients. As soon as an apple is picked from the tree it starts to loose prana - the closer the food is to something that was once alive, the more prana it has. This does not necessarily mean to eat all your foods raw. Fruits are best straight from the tree or bush, ripe and seasonal. But for most other foods, cooking them will make them easier to digest, so that you can benefit from their prana. Eating them raw might cause digestive distress, which means the prana, and the nutrients, are not being easily absorbed. Prana–rich food is freshly prepared, not leftover food, not processed food that you find on the shelves and in the refrigerators and freezers in the supermarket. It is not homogenized or pasteurized. And it is not microwaved. Microwaves are notorious for lowering the nutrients and prana content of foods. Leftovers might still be plenty nutritious according to modern testing, but they have very little prana. When food has been through the dark of the night, or the dark and cold of the refrigerator, it looses its aliveness.
Where to source high prana foods?
In case you don’t grow your own vegetables and fruits, keep livestock, are not a hunter or don’t happen to live right on the ocean, here are some pointers to make the best, prana-rich, choices:
Choose the foods that look bright, colorful and vibrant.
Go to the farmer’s market. The food there is typically freshly picked. When you buy your foods in the store, go to your local health food store and choose the locally grown stuff.
Don’t buy foods with a long shelf life, they probably are processed, meaning that they are not whole anymore. The exception are the grains and pulses (beans and lentils). When you sprout them, they grow new life. Even after a hundred years they wlll still sprout. Nuts and seeds, dried fruits and dried seaweeds are fine choices, but sprout them, or cook them to bring out their aliveness. And definitely don’t keep them around for too long. They will loose their nutritional value and their prana.
Cook your food, you can move some of the stagnant energy that comes from exposure to dark and cold by cooking your food. Same with the leftovers… if you must eat them – we’re all busy people after all – then heat them up before eating them. This will enliven - bring some prana back into - them. The cooking or heating of food increases the speed of the movement of the molecules, and prana means ‘constant motion’ remember? Try to eat freshly prepared food as much as possible. Dedicate some time of your day to cooking. Be prepared, have the right bulk foods and spices in the house, and plan ahead. Prana rich food can be simple. Preparing them doesn’t need to take a long time.
Even boil your water. Unless you live right by a source of pure fresh spring water, your water usually stagnates by sitting in the plumbing pipes or in bottles. Even when you buy superior quality spring water, it will still sit and stagnate. So whatever the source of your water is, it is always improved by boiling it before you drink it.
Treat your meals like spiritual practice – sadhana. Eat with attention for your food. Don’t stare at computer or television screens. Don’t get involved in intense conversation when eating. Instead eat with gratitude and awareness. Don’t eat for meaning and consolation. A lovely practice is to offer a small portion of your food to someone. This can be feeding someone else, an animal, or putting the remainder in the compost to feed the worms and other critters that turn the food back into soil. Of course you can also formalize this practice by making an actual offering to a statue or picture of the divine.
Prana is an energy that we share with the earth, the cosmos, and everything in it. It flows through everything alive. A lack of prana causes disease, and death is a state of no prana at all… good reasons to increase the prana in your body, your life, your being. And in your food it tastes better too!