If you’ve ever taken the time to steam an artichoke and eat it— leaves, stalk, heart and all—you will know that it takes…time.

And focus.

And dedication.

And patience.

All of these are traits that benefit a meditation practice.

So why not eat a healthy meal and meditate all in one? Yes, an artichoke is so satisfying and nutritious, it’s practically a meal. Artichokes are packed with dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants—all the good stuff that can prevent heart disease and cancer.

How to cook an artichoke?

Simple. Steam it or boil it for about 20 minutes depending on its size or until the outer leaves peel off easily. When tasting a leaf, hold it by the thorny side and scrape your teeth down the leaf to get all the goodness off. If it doesn’t scrape off easily, then the artichoke probably still needs more cooking time.

How to eat an artichoke?

All too often people discard the entire choke to get to the heart. Big mistake. Firstly, most of the nutrition—antioxidants and phytonutrients—is in the leaves. Secondly, pretty much all the joy and meditation is in working your way towards the heart by eating the leaves one by one by one. You can dip the leaves in a lemon butter sauce that you heat up on the stove or eat them plain.

How to meditate on an artichoke?

Start by sitting with your cooked artichoke in a quiet spot, alone. Cup your hands around your artichoke and bless it. Take three deep breaths in and out while you do this. Clear your mind as you would for meditation by focusing only on the unusual culinary sensations and the delicate nuances of the flavors. And check the clock so you know how long your meditation has lasted by the end.

Peel the leaves one by one, holding each one by the thorny side and scraping your teeth down the leaf to reach the goodness. As you work your way around the artichoke, peeling off the outer leaves, the leaves get thinner and thinner until at the center they are paper-thin and tinged purple at the top. Keep a big bowl handy to collect all your “eaten” leaves.

Keep breathing and focusing on the taste and sensations and being mindful of your artichoke. Once you have eaten all the leaves with the purple tips and are careful not to eat their thorns, you will reach the heart, protected by what looks like hundreds of tiny, thick hairs that feel bristly like a brush. Do not eat these. Instead, scrape them out with a spoon and they should all come out easily leaving the surface of the heart smooth.

Now that you are left with your artichoke heart, close your eyes and be still. Check the clock. Has 20 minutes flown by? Thirty minutes? While you eat the heart (a true delicacy) allow yourself to be filled with gratitude for such nutritious food and for the opportunity to be slow and mindful. Feel into your own heart and its desires, its longings, its truth.

Eating mindfully is one of the best things you can do for your health. It slows you down to regulate your metabolism and signals your body to let you know you that you are truly satiated. Eating an artichoke mindfully as an act of meditation takes this practice to the next, deeper level.
Remember: focus, dedication and patience.

Thank you artichoke!

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