Taste is a little difficult to work into a meditation unless you've developed the skills to move around in your relaxed altered state. As preparation for this exercise, attempt to hold onto the feelings from the other exercises as long as possible after each training session. Go to a really good restaurant that serves a wide and interesting menu, preferably of food you have never sampled. Ask the waiter's opinion in selection if you've no idea what is being offered. Make your order. Relax. Empty your mind of all expectations and concentrate your energies on your saliva, sense of smell, and tongue. Roll your tongue around your mouth and between your lips and teeth. If you are having a wine to cleanse your palate, inhale its bouquet, swish it around in your mouth, and pull a lit tle air through it before swallowing. Pay attention to how it feels all the way down and note the aftertaste in your mouth.
Each morsel of food you put into your mouth, chew ever so slowly. Feel its texture as you chew and mash it about with your tongue. Smell it as it goes in your mouth and as you chew. See if you've the sensitivity to detect the living energy in the vegetables and flesh as you eat. Hatsumi says that Takamatsu could discriminate between teas grown on different sides of the same mountain, which would affect the moisture in the leaf. How does the energy of broccoli differ from a potato? Potatoes are cousins to deadly nightshade and their energy is easy to feel as they aren't that good for you, but we've adapted to them because they're plentiful and their inherent poisonous nature makes them easy to cultivate, as most insects and grubs aren't interested.
Sauces can be intriguing. Breads can have wildly different textures. What does the flavor and consistency of the meat tell you about the animal? I find wild meat much more interesting than the fare at the supermarket. Eating in this manner helps you to rediscover the sanctity of a meal as well as sharpens your sense of taste. On one level we are what we eat. Food comes after water and breath as a universal need. We tend to love who feeds and entertains us, thus the way to a man's heart is through bread and circuses. Awareness of subtle differences in taste, smell, and energy is a significant benefit when you are trying to avoid ptomaine or deliberate poisoning. How would you like the job of being the dictator's taster? Maybe you've treated the cook badly? The ninjas recommend shifting between blandness and variety and avoiding spices, as they stimulate the intestines and can conceal the beginnings of putrescence. This way's more fun.
Another even more fun way to train the tongue is in your kiss. Many subtle messages concerning health and degree of interest are passed in that junction. And you should take many samples to develop your expertise. Just ask Motown's Shirelles. Science need not be bookish or lonely,
Civilized living tends to deaden our abilities to interact with our environment as we become jaded. If we cannot have variety then we must pursue greater depth of experience to keep these evolutionary processes fresh and available. They are always present but are ignored, reduced, or forgotten. This is part of what the Zen roshi refer to when they say the process of enlightenment is self-remembering. Doing these exercises in the order that I'm suggesting will have immediate effect. This is the inner art of the life-giving sword, so fear no evil. If you want the outer art, go find a really good swordsman. 1 know a few who can stretch your imagination.
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