Nutrition – feeding your subtle bodies, Part 1/7

‘Today we are going to talk about nutrition – eating – and what I have to tell you is something of the utmost importance which very few people know, even the most learned and most highly evolved.

One’s frame of mind when taking one’s first mouthful is extremely important, because it is this first step which triggers the inner mechanism. You have to prepare yourself beforehand, to ensure you are in a harmonious frame of mind at the beginning, for it is the beginning which sets the tone and releases forces which continue to be operative throughout any activity.

It is important to eat slowly and to chew your food well because the mouth acts as a veritable stomach, absorbing the etheric particles and the finer, more powerful energies from food, while the coarser materials are sent on to the stomach. It contains some highly perfected devices in the form of glands on and under the tongue whose task is to extract the etheric particles from food.

I am sure you have all had this experience many, many times: there you were, so hungry you were almost unconscious, and then you began to eat. With the first few bites, long before your food had been digested, you started to feel better and more energetic. How can it have happened so fast? It is thanks to the work that goes on in your mouth that your organism has already absorbed the energies and etheric elements needed to nourish the nervous system. Even before the stomach has received the food, the nervous system has been fed.

It should not surprise you to learn that etheric particles can be extracted from food. A fruit, for example, consists of solid, liquid, gaseous and etheric matter. Everyone is familiar with solid and liquid matter. Fewer bother about the perfume, which is already subtler and belongs to the realm of air. But the etheric dimension of a fruit, which is related to its colour, and especially to its life, is something that is totally unknown and neglected. Yet it is of the utmost importance, for it is by means of the etheric particles in their food that human beings nourish their subtle bodies.

Since human beings possess not only a physical body but also other, subtler bodies (etheric, astral, mental, causal, buddhic and atmic), in which reside their psychic and spiritual functions, the question arises of how to nourish these subtle bodies. Due to ignorance, they are often left without food. People know more or less what they should give their physical body (I say more or less because most people eat meat, which is very injurious to physical and psychic health), but they have no idea what they should give their other bodies: the etheric or vital body, the astral body which is the seat of feelings and emotions, the mental body, which is the seat of the intellect, and even more remote, the bodies of the higher self.


As I mentioned, you have to chew your food well, but chewing benefits principally the physical body. For the benefit of the etheric body you must also breathe correctly. Just as air revives a flame (you all know that if you blow on glowing embers you can get a flame), a few deep breaths during your meal will improve combustion and will enable the etheric body to extract the subtler particles from your food. As the etheric body is the vehicle of vitality, memory and sensory perception, you can only benefit from its development.

The astral body, on the other hand, feeds on emotions, elements of still subtler matter than etheric particles. If you pause for a few moments to consider your food with love, your astral body will be ready to extract from it something even more precious than etheric particles. When the astral body is nourished by these elements it is capable of kindling very elevated feelings in you, feelings of love for the whole world and a deep sense of happiness, peace and harmony with nature.

In order to nourish their mental body, initiates fix their mind on their food; often, they will close their eyes so as to concentrate more deeply. And since they envisage food as a manifestation of the Godhead, they endeavour to study every aspect of it: where it comes from, what it contains, the qualities and virtues that correspond to particular types of food, and the entities that have had a part in preparing it (for invisible entities are constantly at work in every plant and every tree). With their mind absorbed in these thoughts, their food provides them with elements superior even to those of the astral plane.

Clarity of thought and a profound understanding of life and of the world, are born of meals taken in these conditions.’
To be continued…

Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

Read more in…
Izvor Book 204, The Yoga of Nutrition
Chapter 1, Eating: an act which concerns the whole person
Complete Works, Volume 16, Hrani Yoga

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