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Dining with Heart - A Love Skill

Synopsis: Love nourishing the heart while feeding the body; a shared and broad ethology; love infused family dining; couples dining with love; serving friendship love; love, food and Eros; love and dining with self; the dining with heart challenge.

Love Nourishing  the Heart While Feeding the Body

A loving family joyfully shares a meal together, a romantic couple share a candlelight dinner, eating birthday cake with close and jovial friends, chocolates presented in a heart shaped box, kids bringing parents breakfast in bed – all give evidence to how food can be used with the sharing and growing of love relationships of all types.  It is an ancient adage that “The best meals are those served with love”.

A Shared, Long and Broad Ethology

Sharing food as evidence of a love does not only occur in human behavior.  The animal world is full of examples of both mammals, birds and even fish bringing food-gifts to their love mates or hoped for love mates.  There also are many examples where mammals especially, lovingly provide food to smaller and weaker and sometimes sick fellow creatures.  There even are examples of cross species sharing of choice foods and of different species eating side-by-side along with affectionate muzzling, licking, grooming and other likely love-expressive actions.

The evidence suggests that if an animal brain has a limbic system it loves, and if it eats it will mix some sort of love behavior with eating behavior.  The mixing of love and food behaviors probably begins with mothers feeding babies.  Wherever it begins the sharing of food, along with various other acts of loving care and connection, can be traced all the way back into the time of the dinosaurs.  And among humans it shows up in every tribe, culture and society.

Love Infused Family Dining

Making eating together a good, constructive, positive, family love experience is a goal that can be achieved in lots of different ways.  It is interesting to note that all sorts of parents and families who have highly productive, famous offspring had mealtimes together and that those meals were treated in special ways.  Many of the children of such families learned that they were to come to dinner with something by which they could enrich the rest of the family.  Everyone brought to the table a funny story, an intriguing question, a curiosity, an item to be appreciated or perhaps even a contrary opinion.

Different families had different things to stress but they all stressed sharing and the enrichment of one another by the sharing.  In some very musical families the requirement was to sing a line or two from a song or explaining a musical refrain.  In political families it usually had something to do with news related to a cause or a conflict.  In a good many families mealtime was marked by remarks offering another family member, or guest, some sort of affirmative statement.

Praises, compliments, thank you statements and other expressions of gratitude make many families’ meal times together a more loving experience.  In some families the most positive remarks are rewarded with an extra helping of dessert.  In some there is a rule against giving negative statements like criticism, put-downs and complaining; angry or hostile remarks are certainly usually against the dining-together family rules.  The prayers offering blessings for food and thanksgiving, especially in those families where everyone adds something to the prayer, can help accomplish the making of the meal a more love-oriented event.

Sometimes families that ask everyone to hear or discuss unhappy and stressful things at the dinner table can bring about bonding when enough loving care is expressed in the process.  However, such actions may cause indigestion and might bring about an aversion to eating with others in some people who have had numerous, negative, dining experiences.  So, one must be careful about using mealtimes as a time to discuss problems.

Another important thing to remember is to really pay attention to the food and appreciating what tastes good, making comments out loud and also to verbally be thankful to whoever spent time and effort to prepare the food.

Couples Dining with Love

Did you know the romantic, candle lit dinner for two is a relatively new event and was once thought of as an indecent, radical, anti-establishment thing to do.  Typically in many ‘old countries’ the woman served the male patriarch of the family first as he sat alone at the table and she stood behind him while he ate.  Then the other males came to the table and were served, followed by the higher status females who in some lands had to eat at a different table.  Then came the children who usually had to eat in another room.

Finally,  the serving females got to eat whatever was left in the food preparation area which sometimes was outside.  To this day men and women eating together in some places is quite frowned upon.  Males and females eating together counters the male dominance in these cultures and represents movement toward female equality.  Also for a couple to dine alone together adds the chance for intimate exchanges, the sin of self chosen love, and the possibility of indecency.

The intimate dinner for two can be a love feast when there are words of love spoken in soft tones of love, with lots of loving looks and eye contact, punctuated perhaps with touches of love, mixed with loving self disclosures of appreciation and affirmation of each other, and perhaps a little sexy, under the table foot action.  A romantic meal means lots of loving sharing and good emotional intercourse while eating, with strong focus on each other and the experience being shared.  A very important element, not to forget, is making enough time available so as not to be rushed or not to have the experience cut short.

Watch out for love sabotaging actions like complaining about anything, bringing up problems of any type, being distracted by anything, not paying close attention to each other, talking about unloved others, work and other non-couple positive issues, or anything likely to be regarded as impersonal.  Especially important is avoiding unappetizing, gross and rude topics.  Generally the idea is to talk about each other and very positive pleasant things, and to forget everybody and everything else.  That way you do a good job of dining together with and for love.

If one or both of you prepared the food and/or the environmental atmosphere, lots of focus on both of these contributions with words of appreciation are definitely in order.  Focusing on the thinking and feelings of each other by asking personal questions likely to be answered with positive, pleasant words is an exquisite way to dine with love.

When I have suggested these elements of ‘Dining with love’ to some people they have said things like, “What if I don’t like the food or I’m uncomfortable in the environment?  Should I lie, or just keep quiet, or what?”.  I like to suggest that to have a love-focused dining experience with someone that you look for what you can honestly be positive about, and say so.  Then leave the rest for later, or never.

The couples’ love-focused dining experience for two is 1.  giving a couple a chance to feed each other positive, love messages, in a romantic setting, while enjoying food, drink and atmosphere together.  And 2. it is a love skill that is worth adding to your ‘love repertoire’.

Serving Friendship Love

Friends can eat together and in the process show each other friendship love.  In doing so they can substantially grow and improve their relationships with each other.  Sometimes the eating is done informally, quite often in the kitchen, sometimes it’s via a dinner party or going out to eat together in a really nice or interesting, different place.  It can be friends preparing and eating a meal together.  The most important part is the same as in all love-focused eating experiences. The food is not what it’s all about, although that’s important.

It’s the human interaction and the togetherness that are paramount.  Are the interactions of love friendly, positive, deeper than with strangers, maybe sometimes rather quite but sometimes noisy with laughter, and are they often lighthearted and sometimes deeper and quite meaningful?  The atmosphere usually is less important than in the romantic, lovers’ meals but the environment is best when it is at least comfortable if possible.  Above all is to be personable, friendly, accepting, tolerant and sincerely caring.  To joke, tell stories, tell on ones’ self, and to briefly honestly brag, to let out whatever are ones’ larger emotions and concerns, and to talk about whatever is truly important to you may be included.  Also just being able to be quiet together is sometimes a very good, friendly way to share a meal.

Love, Food and Eros

She sat him on a giant pillow and put a turban on his head.  She was dressed in a shockingly revealing, harem girl costume.  She danced back and forth in front of him, erotically bringing him delicious tidbits of various exotic foods from a nearby table.  Then with sensuous twists and turns her diaphanous garments began to disappear.  She then poured aromatic sauces over various parts of her body and offered them to his lips and tongue.  He tasted sweet and tangy juices, and he tasted her, and then she tasted him.  It was indeed the finest meal he’d ever experienced, and one of the most loving dinners she ever served.  His only quandary was how to give her an equally delicious experience when it was next his turn to prepare a love-meal for her.  Need we say more?

Love and Dining with Self

Out of healthy, self-love do you treat yourself to love-filled, just right for you, dining experiences?  When alone do you slowly savor fine tasting food and drink.  Do you think something like,  “I will take time to treat myself well with something I really like to taste?  Do you make it a lovely experience with just the right environment and accouterments.  Perhaps you might enhance a meal with a good book to read, or a special incense, or going outside with nature, or turning on background music you really enjoy.  There are many ways to be extra good to yourself by way of love mixed with food.

A Dining with Heart Challenge

My challenge to you is to be focused on the giving and receiving of love when you feed or eat with loved ones or with yourself.  The challenge also is to develop your skill at making shared eating experiences, those in which you give the heartfelt psychological nourishment of love while also taking it in.  Graciousness, artfulness, thoughtfulness and a host of other loving ingredients all can be mixed in and can become part of the meals you share with loved ones.  So, I hope you are or will enjoy developing this love skill as much as any other.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question How loving will you be the next time you eat with someone you love?  What’s your recipe for creating love-nurturing dining experiences?

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