Scroll down for a transcription of this episode.
Chef and author Bryant Terry leads us through a visualization to connect with our ancestors by appreciating our families’ traditional foods.
Join our limited newsletter The Science of Habits to get curated, science-backed tips to help make your New Years resolution stick in 2024.
How to Do This Practice:
- Find a comfortable place to start this practice, focusing on your breath.
- Think of a meal or dish that is linked to your culture. Reflect on what it looks and tastes like, as well as when you would eat this dish.
- Recall whoever would normally make this dish for you, and any stories that might have told you about it.
- Refocusing your attention on the dish, consider all the different ingredients that went into it, tracing them back to where they came from.
- Reflect on how generations of your family have been nourished from these sources, all leading up to you.
- Complete the practice by grounding yourself in your body, and thanking your ancestors for what they have provided.
Today’s Happiness Break host:
Bryant Terry is a meditator, chef and food justice activist based in San Francisco.
Learn about Bryant Terry: https://tinyurl.com/juvz7sb2
Read Bryant’s books: https://tinyurl.com/59nxrn8e
Follow Bryant on Instagram: https://tinyurl.com/ycyb8dwc
More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:
Happiness Break: A Meditation to Connect to Your Roots, with Yuria Celidwen (The Science of Happiness Podcast): https://tinyurl.com/3mrd6247
Episode 81: Are You Listening to Your Elders? (The Science of Happiness Podcast): https://tinyurl.com/2wjbjj3e
Do Rituals Help Us to Savor Food? https://tinyurl.com/52xpj7fn
Find Purpose by Connecting Across Generations: https://tinyurl.com/h4yyjesh
We love hearing from you! Tell us about your favorite cultural dish. Email us at email@example.com or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
Find us on Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus
Help us share Happiness Break! Rate us and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus
We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner: Welcome to Happiness Break, where we take a short break in the day to do a practice together that’s shown to help us find, calm, connection, meaning, and happiness. I’m Dacher Keltner.
Today we’ll be led through a guided visualization to root us in our heritage via food, and the traditions that come with it.
Just writing about our ancestors for 5 minutes has been found to improve intellectual performance – like test-taking. And having a stronger sense of our cultural identity is linked with higher self esteem and a more robust sense of knowing ourselves.
Our guide today is Bryant Terry. Bryant is a meditator, chef, and artist whose career has focused on food justice and rooting healthy eating in cultural foods.
Now, find somewhere you can relax for the next few moments. Here’s Bryant.
Bryant Terry: Hi everyone. I’m Bryant Terry, and today I’m going to guide you through a practice in thinking about food.
Find a comfortable place to sit, soften your gaze or close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing that. Start with a few deep abdominal breath, breathing into the nose, filling up the belly, and then fully exhaling, emptying all the air. Let’s do that again. There it is. One more time.
Think of a traditional dish that’s relevant to your family or your culture. It could be a dish that brings back fond memories. It could be a staple dish that’s been passed down through generations, whatever comes to mind.
I’ll give you a moment.
Now, I want you to picture that dish in your mind’s eye. Imagine the colors, the textures. Imagine where you were when you typically ate that dish. What smells come up for you? Remember taking a bite? Was it cold? Was it hot?
Crumbly, wet, crunchy, mushy, firm, chewy. Sink into that feeling. Bring to mind whoever typically made this dish for you, call in a memory of them cooking. Remember what they’re wearing, who’s around, where it was.
Now, try to remember any stories they might have told you about the dish. Where did they learn to cook it? When did they eat it? Why did they feel it was so important for them to continue making it?
Now let’s bring our attention back to this traditional dish. What all went into making the meal, what vegetables, grains, spices, fats, oil.
And now pick a few of those elements that made that dish and traced them back. If it’s a vegetable, if it’s a grain, if it’s a legume, where did they grow? Was it a kitchen garden? Was it a community garden? A rural farm?
Think about how these ingredients came to be traditional foods for your family or your culture. And if you don’t know that’s ok.
Researchers have actually shown that we benefit from just imagining our ancestors going about their lives, imagine how many generations of your ancestors cultivated those foods and how they knew how to grow them.
Picture the land where these foods came from. Conjure up the environment. In your mind’s eye and looking out on the horizon, what fills your field of vision? Let yourself be in that place for a moment.
Think about how many generations of your family were nourished by this land that you’re envisioning right now, that deep relationship between them and this landscape, how they were able to fuel their bodies for generations all leading up to you so that you can be here today.
Let’s take another deep breath in.
And slowly exhale.
In the closeout of this practice, we’ll do a quick scan of the body to bring ourselves back to the here and now. This present moment, which is the most important moment,
bring your attention to the top of your head to your face. Are you holding any tension or emotions there? Scan down your neck, your shoulders, your back, your belly.
Notice your thighs, the seat beneath you, your feet on the ground.
I invite you to say a word of thanks to your ancestors and doesn’t have to be out loud. You can do it in your head, but I’m gonna say thank you for all that you’ve done. I appreciate you for laying the path for me to be here. I encourage you all if you haven’t before, talk to the elders in your family or in your community and learn about what they ate.
Learn a recipe and not just for the holiday foods. You know, the fun foods that I like to talk about. The ones that you shouldn’t feel any guilt about eating, but think about the foods that they might have grown in their garden, and maybe you can fold those type of seasonal, sustainable ingredients into your everyday eating.
Those are the type of foods that nourish us, that hold us, and that connect us to those who came before us.
Dacher Keltner: That was meditator, chef and artist Bryant Terry. I’m Dacher Keltner, thanks for taking this Happiness Break with us.