Catching up with e-mail while you eat lunch? Watching television? You may end the day eating more than you think. Read article
Catching up with e-mail while you eat lunch? Watching television? You may end the day eating more than you think. Read article
This week we travelled to Jacksonville, Florida, at the invitation of Marlene Pendley. The group was international, four people from Venezuela and three from Bogota, Columbia. Susan taught two “international” cooking classes and I took these cultures into account in my lectures. It was a great success and very enjoyable.
Two of the students had just completed Anthony Robbins’ seminar, in which a vegan diet was promoted. The students felt our information complemented and refined that introduction very nicely.
We are already looking forward to returning to Florida.
Although it seems like the depth of winter now, the season turns on February fourth. Spring, and a new year, begin then. We can start to get ready in the next couple of weeks to slowly transition our diets. We can gradually lighten our diets, introducing more quick-cooked dishes and pulling back on baked, heavy and dense dishes.
A new group comes to the SHI for the CCP this week for our one-year certificate program. Again we are beginning in a snow storm, so this is an intrepid group. We hope to post a picture of the new class soon.
A reminder: There will be a macrobiotic dinner potluck at the SHI on March 5th. It is free of charge. Please bring a vegan macrobiotic dish to share. All are welcome.
Everyone can align with nature. The sun doesn’t oversleep! It always gets up, always rises. The full moon is always there when it should be and spring always comes after winter. The only way the sun won’t rise, I believe, is if our planet is out of orbit. Otherwise the sun will rise everyday.
The stability of nature gives to everyone psychologically, if we are aware of the feeling that each day is new and fresh. Each day is an opportunity. Each day the sun will rise and each day it will set. Whatever we are doing, for good or for bad, comes to an end everyday, or at least to a pause or recess. In the morning we start again, refreshed and renewed. Or at least, we have the ability to do so.
These cycles start from the daily cycle and move out to larger and larger cycles in different aspects of our life. Then we have this ability to align with and be part of this order. This gives us the stability and the vitality to create our life, to create change or do what we want to do. I think we cannot overestimate how strong that power is. Unfortunately, many times we connect or align more with our individual family experience, which then blocks or interferes with our ability to really align with nature. Recently, excessive focus has been paid to our personal experiences. In other words, making them more significant, rather than looking at nature and then having our perspective changed.
The cycles of nature will support us if we let them!
If we get nervous or angry we influence our health! Happy and unhappy emotions have an effect of either improving or weakening the quality of our blood. The same dynamic exists between emotions and our organs. If we feel calm and peaceful, this nourishes the liver. This is the same kind of energy that creates the liver and returns it to balance. If we feel courage and security, this type of deep energy nourishes our kidneys. On the other hand, if you experience strong fear, that can weaken your kidneys. If you become very angry, the opposite of calm and peaceful, that harms your liver; weakens it. And the more you experience an emotion, the more your organs are damaged by that. The balance works in both directions.
Emotions exist to make balance. Emotions have a natural state. That natural state is something flowing and changing. Healthy emotions are constantly changing. Some days we feel a little bit more up, some days more down, more tense. It changes from day to day and this is a natural state. It is something like the weather, which changes from day to day. We can tell when there is a problem with our emotions when we experience the opposite; when our emotions start to surge; to become too strong, forceful or extreme, or stuck, rigid or one-sided.
There are many ways to read and influence our health.
There are three types of exercises: harmonious exercise, physically or emotionally-oriented exercise and spiritually/mentally or energetically-oriented exercise.
Harmonious exercise means everyone can do it and everyone benefits. This is universal exercise and should be the basis of all exercise programs. Examples of harmonious exercise are walking, laughing, body rub, reading, making love, breathing, cleaning, chewing, gardening, swimming, dancing and hobbies.
Today I will consider walking. Walking is the universal exercise. When I say “part of life,” I don’t mean power walking, which is an unnatural stride. Walking in the past was how you got from one place to another. That was part of life. And our idea of walking, what a short walk is, has changed very much. When you walk naturally, your arms swing like a pendulum and your legs do the same. This is setting a rhythm that helps to regulate all of our bodies’ natural rhythms, including the balance of the branches of our automatic nervous system, our heart beat, our digestive system. Plus, walking helps every condition. It makes you more flexible, and if you are tired, it gives you energy. If you are full, your digestion improves. If you are down, it picks you up. Whatever your state is, you benefit, you return to balance from walking, if it is a natural walk, especially outside. This is so-called harmonious or universal exercise. Everyone should do it and everyone benefits from it. Now of course, if you have certain injuries where this can’t be done, don’t try to do it. But under normal circumstances, everyone benefits from walking. It should be done at a natural stride, at a brisk pace. As if you have somewhere to go and you want to get there.
One of the observations I have had again and again in counseling is that so many people I see who have serious health problems have spent their lives doing what they didn’t want to be doing. And often, when that realization comes strongly enough, it is already a very serious situation. Our career means something like our course or plan of action through life. A lot of people think of career as what they do from nine to five and that the rest of the time is their life. However, career is like exercise, which must be a kind of activity that is part of our life, not separate from it. Career is the same. Our career and our life should be exactly the same.
When people ask me what I do, I don’t really know what to say. When I go to different countries and am asked my occupation, I don’t know what to say. Teacher? I don’t know. Macrobiotic person? Human being? That is my career. Basically, to understand careers we have to know about our basic nature, because whatever we do in life has to complement or build on our nature. But the real question is, what is the purpose of our career? What shall we look for in the first place in understanding our career? Of course we have practical considerations to make, we have to support ourselves, make a living. But that is the secondary or minor part. Really, a career means: How to realize our infinite nature. How to realize our endless nature. Day by day we should try to have different experiences which take us further toward our full potential in life, or our endless nature. You can say, to the realization of our oneness. In essence, if somebody is coming to macrobiotics because of health, then, if they are able to overcome a terminal illness, basically what they are doing is realizing their endless nature, their endless ability to create, not only sickness, but health.
Career should be the same thing, but in a much larger sense. Day by day, we should have this deepening realization of who we are and why we came here.
When does life begin? When does life end? This is a very good question. Does life begin when you are a twinkle in your parents’ eyes? Does life begin at the point of conception? Does life begin at the moment of birth? When the cord is cut? When does it begin? Does life begin when you are weaned? No-one can really say. And in the same way, when are you dead? People have been brain dead and have come back to continue to live their life. We can’t separate opposites. Opposites complete each other to Oneness. However, we have grown up with an idea of good and bad. One or the other. Black and white. But this idea does not exist in nature because we can’t separate things in the same way. When we look at health and sickness, when are we really healthy? And when we are sick, when did that sickness begin? Everything moves in a wave-like movement. If we have a wave, then when we are at the top. we call that health. When we are at the bottom, we call that sickness. At what point does sickness really begin? Is it when you are at the top of the wave, at the midpoint, or at the bottom? We can’t say.
The next question is, is there ever health without sickness? Can yin exist without yang? They cannot. Is there such a thing as absolute, perfect health? I don’t think that there is. Health cannot exist without sickness. No one has everyday just the same perfect energy, perfect clarity, everything going smoothly as planned. I haven’t met that person yet!
No one has perfect sickness. There is nothing that is one-sided. Everything contains its opposite. We have come to think, health is good and sickness is bad, but they are always connected. There is a movement between health and sickness and between sickness and health. In macrobiotics we lean how to move from sickness to health, unhappiness to happiness and chaos to clarity. Trying to practice my Seven Steps will help you move towards health and happiness.
The basis of every meal should be a grain or grain product and at least one vegetable dish. After that your most important choice is soup every day. This can be any kind of soup. After that comes beans and sea vegetables, nuts and seeds, fruit and snacks, fish, beverages, etc. These all revolve around the grain and vegetable and soup. This is an opening spiral. We start with grains and grain products, then add vegetable dishes, then soups, and keep opening that up. There is no stopping point to this. Often I hear someone say “I can’t eat that.” Every time I hear this it kind of makes me uncomfortable. We can eat whatever we want! We should eat whatever we want. The question is, what do we want? And what makes our appetite? If you make your diet satisfying, you will start to want things that nourish you, that move you toward your goals, toward what your goals really are in life. Then the idea of not being able to eat something drops out. It is not part of your vocabulary or consciousness anymore. I always try to eat whatever I want, without exception. But for me the most satisfying foods are these.
Chewing is in some ways the most important of the seven steps to strengthening health. However, it is important to enjoy chewing and not to feel “This is labor. I have to do this to get well.” If you feel satisfied by your food and if you really enjoy it, naturally you will want to chew more. If you are satisfied, you will put yourself in the best position to chew well. If you are starved when you sit down to eat and you are not satisfied or you don’t really enjoy the food, then it is hard to chew well. If you do these other things, practice the other steps, you will feel more satisfied, your taste will have more sensitivity, and you will enjoy the food more. Then it is easy to chew, sometimes you may forget and then you remind yourself, gently. It all works together.
It is the same thing for people who have the habit of eating before sleep. This is a very difficult habit to break. Very strong, active people like to eat before sleep and at night they relax and want to eat more. You can tell yourself “I am not going to eat tonight,” and you might not on some nights, but it always creeps back again.
Appetite always wins. Food is our strongest desire. This is the movement of nature. It is like a tidal wave. You can’t go against it.
That means, if your food during the day is not satisfying, that is the problem. Eating before sleep is not the problem. What you eat during the day is the problem. If you make your meals more satisfying, then naturally you can change that habit. In this way, practicing the habits of Strengthening Health macrobiotics leads naturally to health.
If we think “Life is wonderful; life is a long process; it goes on and on” then we are not too rushed. We are open. We can receive things and let things out. But if we think “Life is very short, we really have a lot of things to do; I must work hard every day, accomplish a lot and make a lot of money” then our minds get very closed, very tight. Whatever else we do with our diet and activity, in this case we are constantly sending heavy yang energy throughout our whole body. Throughout our so-called spiritual channel, our chakras, throughout every meridian, every cell. Very heavy condensed vibrations. These heavy condensed vibrations keep generating more pressure. Even though we are trying to eat well, in a balanced way, and have good activity, this heavy yang energy works against that. At the same time, opportunities are being shut of. We close things off because we do not allow openness, or for things to come in.
If we try to orient our view of life, to change how we see things, then automatically we adjust our condition through that, which affects our diet, activity and everything else, including how we choose foods.
Some people are willing to change their diet, but not their view of life. We like to hold on to certain views. We think that is us, so that is our security. However, by trying to hold on to those views, we often block ourselves from changing. We don’t open ourselves to new change and possibilities. This is an important consideration. There is a common point in the progression of illness, which is that as it progresses, our point of view gets more and more stuck and unchangeable. We cannot get away from the effect of what we receive from our minds and send down through our bodies. Choosing grains and vegetables automatically creates more openness. We also need to try to create more harmonious activity and a harmonious lifestyle. This includes a view of life that is accepting, embracing etc. Otherwise, we constantly generate pressure, difficulties and heaviness.