Seoul Food: The Art of Mindful Eating

Highlights from Seoul Food: The Art of Mindful Eating

Last Wednesday 12th, Food85 held an exclusive pop up and talk at Christie's London, entitled Seoul Food: The Art of Mindful Eating, as part of First Open: Art After Hours.

Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living


The East Asian inspired event debuted 'The Kimchi Trail'; a four part series exploring the ancient tradition of fermentation, whilst Lily Hirawsawa shared her lessons in fermentation for the mind, body and soul, in conversation with women's health writer Jessica Duffin.

The night explored the history and benefits of kimchi, fermentation, slow food and mindfulness, whilst guests were treated to vegan kimchi fried rice wrapped in seaweed.

Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living
Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living
Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living
Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living
Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living
Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living
Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living
Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living
Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living
Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living
Seoul Food: the Art of Mindful Living

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Being Present with Meditation

“We shall never have more time. We have, and have always had, all the time there is.” Bennet

Since moving on from a restaurant gig earlier this year, I feel I’ve been smacked in the face with a big block of time. The transition has been tough. Managing one’s own time is really tough.

Coming from being constantly on the move, on my feet, undertaking physical work for 12-17 hours a day (yes 17 hours is apparently quite the norm in Michelin kitchens), I felt I had zero time. Indeed, like many chefs I hardly had time to eat. I have to wonder if people even sleep in this sector. But on the flip side I constantly had things to do and my mind had no time to wander. You can be in the moment day in day out, at sun rise and sun down, Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday - and Monday? Knocked out by exhaustion.

But since saying goodbye to the whirlwind of kitchen chaos, with seemingly endless hours on endless days at hand, my mind began to wander again.

So I picked up on my reading. And not just surfing the web and the news, not even magazines but books. Lots of books. What a lifesaver and pleasure. They have given much needed order to my jumbled up thoughts and emotions - a structure, and outlet to express my thoughts and values with a new clarity.

With this new structure, I came to thinking about the focus we have on meditation at Food85. It is a practice of self-love through discipline. And whist the word discipline turns so many of us away, I have learnt more recently, that it is an art which can be as merciful as it is merciless.

Mediation is for me a tool to help me train my mind into transitioning from reacting to my emotions to acting according to my values. A tool that allows us to be present as much as we can, 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week, 730 hours a month, 8760 a year.

Apparently, we only suffer when there is a gap between our expectations and reality (yup, wise old Buddha). Surely the most painful reality is set up by feeling that you expected something more of yourself than what you said, did, or were able to ultimately, be. In essence, reacting to something emotionally and taking a certain path, that with hindsight, you may deem having been the wrong course of action.

The action of acting out of our values eliminates this because you weigh out all your options with a clear head, and follow the advice of the rational you, with all the knowledge and wisdom you have accumulated through experience. Making the best decision you could have made at that very moment in time, according to your values.

Therefore, a little discipline is a little self-love. Valuing your own time, each hour of the day, is the ultimate self-love and a beautiful way to spend your 657 000 hourson earth.

Lily x

For more reading:

Susan Neiman, Why Grow Up?

M Scott Peck MD, The Road Less Traveled A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

Farnham Street Blog


Mental Health Awareness Week

Illustrated conversations about Mental Health by Zoe-Emma

mental health awareness week zoe emma

Art - and especially visual art - is widely recognised as expressive of conditions of mind in how it reflects everyday life experiences. However, those suffering from mental health issues can often find it difficult to grapple or convey these experiences, and it is here that illustrator Zoe-Emma hopes to shed some light.

The 20-year-old artist, who only began illustrating last year, hopes to open up conversations about mental health, drawing greater attention and sensitivity to such matters, which in turn helps support and provide solace for those who suffer from mental health problems. Because it is more ‘invisible’ than physical health problems, they are often overlooked as being less credible, which often leads to sufferers of mental health problems to feel isolated and unable to address their distress.  

Her candid yet quiet illustrations are distinctive, usually featuring two characters: a plain, many-eyed black figure, according to Zoe-Emma, representative of ‘mental health itself’, and a human-like character with one eye and a face mask, ‘the sufferer’. The scenarios in which these two figures interact become metaphors of how one deals with psychological or emotional issues.

Most strikingly though, her work remains human, despite their often surreal or abstract aesthetic. Because of its simplicity, the illustrations resonate with the everyday and with everyone: the scenarios she depicts are instantly relatable, helping to navigate the complex issues surrounding mental health.

Zoe-Emma believes that mental health is becoming less of a taboo subject, and states that through her art, aims to address the universal yet personal nature of mental health problems, where “I hope the viewer feels a connection with one or both of my characters and is able to understand them in their own way.”

mental health awareness week food85

Take a look at her work on her website here.

Words by Jasmine Wong and originally published on SoulGraze.

How To Meditate

Sat on the rooftop of a restaurant in Shoreditch the other day, I overheard some women catching up with a bottle of rosé and good food. Amongst stories of love and work woes, fashion and new food trends, they came onto the topic of health. Specifically, how they struggled with the idea of meditation. And more specifically; just how to meditate properly?

This same question comes up frequently with my friends too and I definitely struggled with it when I first started. The concept seemed flimsy to me... "Think of nothing. Focus on your breathing." Admittedly, I thought it was complete rubbish and way too abstract. I needed practical instructions, I couldn't just sit and think of nothing - really, how many of us can?

Meditation for Beginners

To just be still and focus on our breath at first seems impossible. I found that people who did manage to get close to such a state would end up falling asleep. We are all busy after all and a spare half an hour seems fitting for a quick cat nap.

I think the most important eureka moment for me was when I figured out that meditating can be taken in steps. You don’t have to start with a complete blank mind and maintain it for an hour every morning at 5am.

Since that realisation, meditation and I have become fairly good friends and so, I thought I’d share some guidelines/tips I use personally for finding peace with finding peace.

Meditation Techniques for Beginners

  • Start with ten minutes, even five. Don’t commit yourself to a package, a set of sessions like once a week or once a day. Just do one and see how it goes. When I bought a whole heap of sessions and didn't stick with them, I ended up feeling like a failure and that's not the best start to your meditation practice.
  • Sit up straight, imagining a string pulling you up from the top of your head. Legs crossed, or on a chair in a comfortable position. It’s all about settling into your physical self, your body. By turning your attention to something that just is still and concrete in the physical world, you gradually encourage your mind toarrive, calm and be. Your feet should be firmly on the ground, or the weight of your hips on the chair or floor. Essentially you’re looking for grounding - like the roots of a tree.
  • Yes, do start by counting your breathing - but once you have that in a nice slow rhythm, direct your mind to scan through your body. From that point on top of your head, all the way to down your toes, just observe how everything is feeling. If it helps, give each part a slight wiggle. Isolate all your body parts, really feel that they exist from the inside, through your nervous system.
  • Once you’ve settled into your physical, it becomes about the mind. Instead of trying not to think, I let my first thought come up. Then I acknowledge the contents of that thought, I tell myself, “Okay, I am thinking about this. This is a thought I have in my mind.” Then, the practice is to let that thought be, let it go, without reacting to it and allowing it to spiral into something bigger. If I really don't want to let it go, I say to myself, “Okay, brain, I see you are concerned about this. I acknowledge your message. Thank you brain, I will respond to this at the appropriate time.” Then I refocus on my breathing, settle into my body again, and wait for my next thought.
  • If focusing on the breathing is too little to concentrate on and you find your mind is whizzing continuously, try a different approach. Concentrate on another sense, I find sound very helpful. Listen to all the sounds around you, one by one and focus more on the physical ability to hear, rather than think what the sound is. For example, if you hear cars, focus on the pitch of the sound, through your physical receptors, your ears, rather than thinking “This is coming from an engine” which is received by the mind (which which will happen, but gets easier with practice). If sounds don’t work, open your eyes and use your vision. Focus on things you can see in front of you, around you, in this space. Mediation is about bringing your attention to the present, to what is happening here and now, and your senses are there to help you.

I hope by continuing this process, that eventually you will be able to slow down the speed and the number of thoughts, until you reach a stage where you are able to have a still mind that accompanies your still body.

Please remember, every practice is different. Sometimes you will be completely in tune and some times not. The progress isn’t linear. You won’t always do better next time. This is a time for you to not think about conquering yet another task, but is rather an exercise to create space and encourage clarity.

Whatever comes up for you, whatever your practice looks like, let it be and let it go.