Sadhana is a Sanskrit word whose root, sadh, implies the ability to reclaim that which is divine within. Sadhana practices encompass daily activities, from simple to-dos to sublime experiences: waking up in the morning, cooking and eating a meal, or exploring your self through meditation. The premise of these practices is to recover connection to Nature’s rhythms, and to realign inner life and daily habits with the cycles of the universe. Sadhana connects internal awareness to external rhythms, ultimately providing the gateway to inner wisdom — an inherent knowledge that whatever is inside of us and outside of us exist together as one whole.
Contemporary society has manufactured dramatic shifts in the infrastructure of our environmental, agricultural, and social landscapes, inventing problems, and later ‘solutions’ which separate mankind more and more from a direct connection with Mother Nature. Collectively, we are misaligned with the natural rhythms of the universe. As a result, individuals are increasingly disassociated from Mother Nature.
For over half a century or more, we have built momentum moving against the grain: eating nutritionally barren or corrupted foods imported from distant locations and drinking bottled water and caffeinated or sugar-laden beverages that superficially fuel our systems to push us through long work hours. Then in the evenings, we often end up neglecting rest to manage social or familial engagements. On nearly every level, we resist our natural flow and balance.
The good news is simple shifts may be incorporated into lifestyle and diet at any time to bring us into harmony with the great cycles of the cosmos and reconnect us to that which is divine within: our power to heal, serve, rejoice and lift up the spirit.
The food & beverage program at The Assemblage reflects this simple, yet profound notion. High-quality, high-potency food and beverages are offered as a means of establishing alliance with Mother Nature on a grand scale, as well as with the direct environment within which The Assemblage belongs.
In this way, we are consciously utilizing Nature’s (substantive, food and herbal) offerings as a tool to enhance prana, or the love-life-force which promotes evolution within all beings. The food and beverage program in its entirety is a food sadhana, for the employees who prepare the ingredients into dishes then serve them, as well as for those members and guests who consume them.
Eating seasonally is a requisite component of food sadhana practice. As I wrote about in Ayurveda: Cultivating A State of Mind of Your Choosing, the Ayurvedic sciences teach that Mother Nature is ‘serving’ exactly what our bodies need as an antidote for the physical challenges of the environment, mandating seasonal eating practices to promote health of the mind, body and spirit. In Northeastern America, Mother Nature provides three annual harvests relative to the major seasons: Spring, Summer, and Fall/Winter.
Spring ingredients are available from March to June, just as our bodies need light, warm, dry and rough foods to combat the coldness and dampness of the spring season and heaviness that has accumulated throughout the winter. Spring is the time of year when the fat metabolism needs to be reset. Mother Nature provides a spring harvest of foods naturally rich in bitter, astringent and pungent tastes, including an abundance of sprouts, herbs, greens, roots and berries. These foods are assembled into dishes that clean the fatty winter blood, cleanse out the liver and stimulate the lymphatic system.
As we cross the Summer Solstice on June 20, our bodies need a cooling, drying, lighter diet to handle the hot, humid and intense days. July through October is Mother Nature’s longest growing season and offers a variety of fruits and vegetables that provide the quick energy the body and mind need to stay active during the year’s longest days. Produce allowed to ripen has been ‘cooked on the vine’ and is often best eaten raw. Sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes predominate in the summer in stone fruits, melons, berries, summer squashes, greens, herbs, and cruciferous vegetables that will be combined into colorful salads, gazpachos, and crudités platters.
As the temperature drops, Mother Nature provides warm, heavy, moist foods to antidote the coldest and driest time of the year. These ingredients strengthen our bodies and insulate us; they are prepared in cooked dishes that provide slow-burning energy for chilly days. The November-February harvest offers an abundance of sweet foods like grains, pulses, nuts, seeds and root vegetables. Ingredients that might not naturally overwinter are served as preserved and fermented foods, making sour and salty important tastes during the Fall/Winter as well.
In Ayurveda, it’s understood that there are six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Each have different chemical consequences in the body and the mind relative to regulating digestive capacity through anabolic, metabolic, and catabolic means. Though one or more taste may be most prevalent in a dish, all six must be included for the meal itself to be fulfilling, to generate satisfaction within its consumer. In this way, each dish is well-considered for nutrition, taste, flavor profile, and diner satisfaction. At the Assemblage, each prepared dish is balanced according to this six-taste philosophy.
The seasonal menus at The Assemblage change as Mother Nature does, with each transition featuring ingredients available at those times. Self-serve, community morning and afternoon meals are provided to encourage members to sit together to enjoy their meals in company of the community. The breakfast and lunch spreads are a curated combination of raw and cooked foods, savory and sweet, plain and dressed which may be combined in a nearly infinite number of ways to match the premise of whomever is assembling their daily provision.
The changing menu is diverse in foods that build health throughout the body’s organ systems, yielding an internal environment that is conducive to mental clarity, as well as calm and contentness. Animal proteins included in the morning and afternoon community plates, and as ‘add-ons’ in the evening menu, are sourced from farms who raise their animals on diets as Nature intended (grass, hay, insects, compost) served outdoors, and slaughter them humanely; or from fishermen who reap their catch sustainably from the wild.
As a result, the well-being and vitality of the community within The Assemblage resonates with Nature. The ripple effect of the actions we take at The Assemblage move us with — not against — the current of life, promoting balance and, hopefully, conscious awareness and connection with Mother Nature, who provides for each of us everything we need to be healthy and happy. And we are.
Noël Graupner is The Assemblage’s food and beverage concept designer. She is an Ayurvedic Nutritionist and cook, twice Board Certified with the American Association of Drugless Practitioners for Ayurvedic Holistic Nutrition and Holistic Health Counseling.
The Assemblage provides coworking, coliving and social events space for those who believe in a collective conscious era is emerging. We encourage our community to participate in communal dining designed around the Ayurvedic system, and all of our ingredients are sourced within a 100-mile radius of our first location, The Assemblage NoMad. Learn more at TheAssemblage.com.