You’re probably familiar with art therapy. Mindful drawing is a prime example. If you’ve ever tried it, you know that it lets you bring your body and your mind to the present moment through creativity. Not only does your mind focus on a relaxing activity, but you also get to express your emotions and to better know yourself.
At the heart of kitchen therapy is the idea that cooking is a foundation for healing too. Preparing a meal is unlike anything else we do in our daily lives. It’s a nourishing act that allows us to slow down and center ourselves.
But the world of cooking can be strict with its rules. Whether because of TV shows or people online mad at food, cooking often turns out to be a process where little creativity is allowed. You’re given a set of rules and a recipe, and you’re supposed to follow them to the letter. Kitchen therapy wants to change all this. It’s a new way to understand cooking, where culinary performance and the final result are set aside to make space for creativity and personal growth.
A kitchen therapy session usually begins with a relaxation activity. Reconnecting with your body allows you to mobilize all your senses, without over-relying on one. Cooking is deeply immersive – think of the textures of ingredients, their taste, the visual cues you need, the many aromas – and this helps you keep unproductive negative thoughts at bay. To heighten your senses, put on sounds of the forest in the background. With your eyes closed, imagine you are a tree. Feel your roots anchored in the soil, with water slowly rising to your branches. After a few minutes, you’ll be ready to go.
A Sprinkling of Creativity
Kitchen therapy is all about creative expression. Go off the book. Be mindful of the flavors of the ingredients you gravitate to. Let them inspire you. Every step of your cooking process is something you can anchor your mind to and be creative about. Kitchen therapy sessions often include tasks like “expressing your current mood” by cooking. While it may seem overwhelming, the assignment is simply a way to realize that you’re capable of improvising and being creative.
While some may prefer being left alone in the kitchen, cooking with a partner can improve your communication skills. Kitchen therapy allows you to put aside the grudges you may hold against each other and focus on the task at hand. You’ll enjoy quality time together and since kitchen therapy encourages creativity, it can also be a good setting to learn how to better cooperate and compromise.
Mindful cooking allows you to focus on the present moment, so that you’re not ruminating over past mistakes or worrying about future problems. As an example, think of when you have to peel an orange for a salad. Think of the color, the smell, the texture of the zest. Notice the spray of juice when you break through the peel. Mindfully savor those moments to let go of stress.
Kitchen therapy is a powerful way to reconnect with one’s body, senses, and creativity and to open up to others. You are realizing yourself by realizing food. Instead of just preparing a meal, you are becoming you.