“A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.” ~ Elsa Schiaparelli
Cooking heals. Cooking can soothe jangled nerves, heal broken hearts and cure boredom, insomnia and anxiety.
Cooking is therapy and, fattening or not, it’s effective.
It worked for Julie Powell, who set out to whip up every recipe in legendary chef Julia Child’s cookbook when she felt stymied by her own problems. The blog and book that resulted, “Julie & Julia,” are portrayed in a must see film starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I highly recommend watching it.
How do I know cooking is so good for the mind, heart and soul??
I have been cooking since I was 12 yrs old. Not that, the first dish I made was anything next to good. But, my darling dad ate it all up. Yeah, the first time I cooked it was out of neccessity. My mum wasn’t feeling very well and had to be hospitalised. Being the eldest of three siblings I took it upon myself to fill in her shoes for those few weeks. My mum is an amazing cook! When that first dish bombed big time, and came time to serve it to my dad and little brothers I thought “such a simple dish, and I spoilt it.” (I had forgotten I was only 12 yrs old!) With this frame of mind the food got served. The three males of the house looked at the dish in ‘awe’. They ate silently. I couldnt even have one bite of it. It was so so bad. But they ate and they praised it. Imagine that! I saw my dads face light up when I served him for the first time. Since then, cooking has become my happy place. cooking to me is creating happiness in edible form.
I love to cook now. I love it so much, that if any one day I haven’t cooked even one small meal, I feel incomplete. My healing depends on that special time I take to myself…to get all raw and messy…wet dough is wet dough afterall. The pure modesty to cooking is what keeps me grounded and healed.
How to find the Healing Happiness in Cooking?
For many of us, when we make the time, finding the energy to cook everyday is difficult, because when we have just done a day’s work, the idea of having to stand in the kitchen doing more ‘work’, is not that attractive.
If this resonates with you, then see if you can turn your time in the kitchen into something which nourishes you and restores your energy, rather than drains you. Cooking can be very therapeutic, if you do it in the right way. It may not always be possible, but if you can, on difficult days, have your partner look after the children while you cook. Close the kitchen door and tell your family not to disturb you. Forget multi-tasking and allow yourself to concentrate solely on just one thing, the task of cooking a meal. I find it helps to create a nice ambience for yourself. Remember a happy cook is a good cook and a Good cook is a Happy cook!
Sometimes I like the ambience of silence, when I am feeling bruised and sore from the noise of the world. But you don’t need silence to feel the happiness of cooking. Sometimes, I want to hear the birds outside or the traffic zooming past too.
Creating your psychic cooking space is as important as your physical one. During a difficult time in my life, when slings and arrows were coming at me hard and all was disorder, trauma and upheaval, I used cooking-time as ‘time out’ for myself. I came to really look forward to that slot in my day when I could put to one side, all the problems I was dealing with, turn off the ‘worry switch’ and just cook. I became so engrossed in what I was doing that I forgot everything else. I became calm and focused and my mind rested. I was experiencing the healing power of cooking.
Any activity can become a meditation, be it archery, motor-cycle maintenance, calligraphy, flower-arranging, walking by the sea, sitting cross-legged repeating a mantra……so why not cooking? If you are a stressed-out working mother, I doubt you have much time for walking by the sea, calligraphy, or cross-legged meditation. But cooking is something you have to do each day and if you can use that time to feed your spirit and rest your mind, you will be multiplying the benefits you reap from your kitchen labours.
So when the world beyond your kitchen is in chaos, you can create a healing happiness-filled oasis, where chaos does not reign. In the kitchen, we can create harmony, order, wellness, the antithesis of everything in our lives that stresses and exhausts us. Instead of chaos, we can make an oasis of creativity. Kitchen-time can become me-time, during which we nourish and repair our spirits, as we cook and regroup our energies for the next battle we have to fight. Just as eating home-cooked food can be a ritual that grounds our children, we can make the cooking of it a ritual that grounds us.
Points to remember:
- Cooking is a great destresser because it serves as a creative outlet.
- While stress can numb your senses, cooking activates them. It’s a sensory experience with aroma, taste, touch, visual delight and even sizzling sound.
- If you’re cooking for people you care about, you get nurtured by their appreciation.
- Cooking is like giving birth because you are mixing things together to create something new and wonderful.
- Cooking offers a way to feel better about life because it offers immediate gratification.
- Cooking keeps you in the moment and this shifts your attention from a brain locked into worries to a recipe for happy living.
- Cooking is the fastest way to mend a broken heart.
Understanding that we can experience the healing happiness of cooking is like a self-fulfilling prophecy—the more we are aware of this possibility, the more it works this way. When we are resentful about having to cook and allow the stresses of the day to leak into our cooking time, we become even more depleted. When we throw a ring around our cooking time, and think of it as sacred time, we ‘enter the zone’ and it becomes a special ritual that we can look forward to every day.
What are YOUR thoughts on this topic?
Do you cook for yourself or your loved ones? How has the process of cooking helped you? Do share your therapeutic cooking wisdom, thoughts and questions in the comments below. I’m eager to learn about your happy cooking ways.
With Immense Love & Gratitude,
Counseling Psychologist/ Spiritual Counselor
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