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Expert GuidanceSharing Meals as a Ritual

Sharing Meals as a Ritual

From The Wake Up: Casper ter Kuile, rituals expert and published author, explains how eating together can be used as a tool for building relationships and mutual vulnerability.

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Today, I'll be talking about how we can build and deepen the relationships in our lives through one simple ritual, sharing a meal together. Let's get started. (relaxing music) One of the oldest ritual tools for relationship building has been to eat together. Humans have practiced it for millennia. First, we did so out of biological necessity, sharing the spoils of hunting and gathering. And then later, food was used as an expression of kinship. Anthropologists tell us that sharing food connects us because it makes us mutually vulnerable. Legend has it that this is why we clink glasses, so that drops from one cup fly into another, making sure that no one is poisoning each other. But across cultures, sharing a meal is also a practice of hospitality, welcoming someone into your home as a way of building trust and friendship. Sharing a meal together can deepen our presence with those around us. This small ritual can truly transform the table by re-centering our attention on our interconnectivity. Once your group is gathered, whether it's a few friends or colleagues or family, it's time to enter sacred meal time. One of the first steps to do this is by putting away your phones. Because according to a psychology study, having cell phones at the table made people feel more distracted and less engaged. During my shared dinner rituals, I'm usually playing music through a speaker controlled by my phone, so having zero technology is certainly not a hard and fast rule, but not having phones visible is a really good principle to follow, to create an environment that encourages conversation. Setting an intention is a nice moment to come together before eating. It helps create a little bridge from the normal everyday life into a special experience of shared connection. You may already be familiar with setting an intention from your own upbringing. It might be a blessing or a prayer or a few simple words of gratitude, just like before a Thanksgiving meal. You can make this as structured or as informal as you want the intention setting to be. In my households, to enter into ritual time together, we like candles and hold hands and sing a little song before digging into the meal. Again, it can be as rich in words as you want, or perhaps as simple as a moment of shared silence. Once you start enjoying the meal, lean into a multisensory approach of noticing what you're eating. I try and pay attention to that first bite of everything that I eat. So you can talk about with your guests what the flavors and textures and smells and colors are. Consider the ingredients. Where have they come from, and who has helped to bring this food to your table? Next, does this food remind you of a story or a time you've eaten it before? Perhaps it's a cuisine that speaks to your own cultural identity, or something you've tried on your travels. Food...


TypeExpert Guidance
Duration5 min

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