Paris is a meat-feasting city — not to say the rest of the world is any different. The French love their food, especially flesh, but slowly, rising in different quartiers across the city like a revival of the arts, the “biologique” producers are opening their doors.

It consumes me, this art of conscientious living, and it is fueled by one image: Mother Earth

I must admit, my stomach joins the choir, moaning as I catch scents through the wafting doorways. But I’m on my way to my own market, a representation of the home I know while traveling, for as a vegetarian on the road, my needs can often be demanding.

Beyond more restaurants, past the ethnic shops of couscous and kebabs, I take another road, where on the corner of a side street I step inside and enter my destination.

La Vie Claire and its homely shop, tucked with the whole goods of any village baker. Small petite tiles decorate the floor as if laid by the shop owner himself, leading to clustered stacks of wooden shelves.

Along the walls are the arrangements of the morning’s whole grain breads, undressed fruits and vegetables off their seasonal nods, and a chilled cabinet humming with the freshness of organic cheeses, yogurts, blocks of raw tofu and even soymilk.

I inhale as I weave around the baskets guarding the door, greeting the owner with an exchange of “Bon jour!” I taste the flavors of Earth upon my palette. As I meander, smelling, feeling the homely ambiance and the energies of sustenance in the air, I am reminded of consciousness.

It consumes me, this art of conscientious living, and it is fueled by one image: Mother Earth, green and blue in her luster; spinning round with her diversity.

Being A Human, Right?

I emphasize home for one reason. We each have our own on different levels-the things were most familiar with. I call my family and friends home, as well as this specific lifestyle of conscious consuming. And the one home we can all relate to is that spherical image of the Earth.

To be aware and conscious of our existence is when we allow life itself to thrive to its fullest, most beneficial potential. Any home supplies us with the support of life. As our Mother Earth, this planet provides us with all of it-a place of habitation, gravity, light and darkness, as well as the necessities of air and food.

After all, food is one of these primary sources of life. As is the act of breathing, food is the other-they’re one and the same. Without these two sustaining forces, we would no longer inhabit our physical home. Our very planet provides this, along with the beauty of nature that induces the influence of inspiration, joy and freedom.

However, while living within these laws of physicality upon this planet, we are all conscious of our experience as a human being-or so we hope.

The Art of Eating, Living & Being

Living is an art form, and to create any form of art, we must be aware and focus our attention into the act of creation. To be aware and conscious of our existence is when we allow life itself to thrive to its fullest, most beneficial potential.

Being conscious of our feelings, thoughts, speech and actions, of the movements around us, and of what we eat creates an appreciation for the present moment. And consciousness in our food and breath (the two sources of life), likewise, create a whole new dimension of being.

When we draw our thoughts and awareness to our food, we create a relationship with it and the body in which it enters. This is a deep sense of Self, a deeper sense of awareness.

To eat consciously simply entails being aware of what we eat-what it is and where it came from.

Specifically, food eaten consciously provides us with more energy and strength, as does conscious breathing. For example, take the practice of meditation. Meditation heightens our awareness and gives us more energy, and as one could say, it focuses our life.

So by eating consciously, we receive the same transformations in our life as we would while practicing meditation, while creating art, while focusing our whole selves upon the things that bring us joy and happiness.

To eat consciously simply entails being aware of what we eat-what it is and where it came from. All food-fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and meats-have life-force. The more life-force, the more awareness. With more awareness one won’t have to eat as much, bypassing the issues with health that many face today.

What retains the life-force within food, within all sustenance, is the originality of it, its natural state.

The Clear & The Natural Life

Food comes from the Earth-the largest source of physical life-force. Therefore, natural foods (organic, bio, homegrown, farmer’s market fresh) contain the most life-force.

They are not sprayed with chemicals. They are not genetically modified. They are not frozen and shipped across land and sea. Instead, they are cultivated, planted, grown, picked, harvested and sold within the very air you breathe, the water you drink and the Earth’s soil you tread upon.

Thus, not only do we benefit from receiving the maximum life-force within food that provides the energy to carry out our purpose on this planet, but also our local growers are supported. And further, the soil they cultivate and the animals they raise are cared for because we’re giving back the love and nourishment our Mother Earth continuously provides.

Transport across country and sea are reduced. Less oil is extracted. Fossil fuels become a decreased demand. The blood of the Earth remains within her core as we collectively begin to cure the wound of addiction, as we collectively begin to care for ourselves.

And yes, we’re caring for the planet. Health and those qualities of abundance, joy and strength are cultivated throughout life.

All these factors are a part of life, a life of many different elements. Put together, these elements are home, making it all possible. Mother Earth is our home and we live upon it. We feed from it. We’re sustained by it. Therefore, we have a responsibility to care for it.

Now I’m Consciously Consumed

By eating consciously, buy visiting and shopping at the local farmer’s market or biologique/organic grocers, one retains the maximum life-force provided within food. And as a source of this life-force, life’s best potentials are released from within as we each strive for the abundance, joy and strength available to all.

With a backpack light on the shoulders carrying a jar of miel biologique, a trio of apples and a block of raw tofu, I return to the boulevard from which I first came. I find the cafés, brasseries and restaurants still full, their windows more foggy then before.

A breeze picks up, stirring the city’s debris in a lost arrangement of un-timed minuets. Stepping through the whirlwinds of man, I move over the waste of his domesticated pets, and I take out an apple. I wrap my jaws around its crisp skin and progress through the Paris I’ve come to know.

Wherever the road leads, I find the home-away-from-home. Whether Paris, Athens, Dharamsala, Bangkok, Monteverde or Bainbridge Island, home is a place where I continuously learn to care for myself and the planet Earth in which I travel upon.

Cameron Karsten writes a weekly spiritual travel column for Brave New Traveler. Each week he explores the emerging art and practices of spiritual travel. To read his previous columns, see the “also in this series” links below.
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