I have just returned from a seminar in Portugal called “Awakening Qi” with my long time friends and associates, Bill Tara and Chico Varatojo. The seminar focused on how we use and work with qi in our daily life and professional healing practices.
I came upon this interesting website that shows how we can transition to natural, gentle, and inexhaustible energy sources that can help restore and repair Nature’s qi. Check it out.
What do you think?
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Farmer’s markets provide many benefits for the health of individuals and communities. Farmer’s markets help us to learn about and reconnect with food and nature. Philadelphia has a strong network of farmer’s markets throughout the week. No matter the day, people can connect with the local food scene as well as enjoy the health benefits of eating locally and seasonally.
-Buying food at farmer’s markets encourages us to go home and cook.
-We become more practical and creative with our cooking.
-We discover foods we are naturally drawn to as well new foods we may have never encountered.
-The density and uniqueness of flavors as well as the depth of color of produce from farmer’s markets is far beyond the range of flavors offered by conventional produce.
-We reawaken to the seasonality of certain foods. This allows us to fully enjoy and appreciate foods as they become available.
-They allow us to find our natural sense of taste for foods.
-We receive practical education about the variety of available foods from a particular season and region.
-They are healthy social gathering places.
– Going to the market is an event to look forward to as a new ritual.
-We connect with the people who grow our food.
The proliferation of farmer’s markets is an indicator of people’s desire to reconnect with nature and health. To me, it is a sign that people are curious, excited, and motivated with building an economy that is based on health. And I am pretty sure that once you start visiting your local farmer’s market, it will be hard to stay away.
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If you have a chance, please check out this flyer: TEACHERS TEACHING TEACHERS2. I will be in Portugal during October 17-19th with my long-time friends to speak on a very important topic. Please share this with people who may be interested. Registration is due by August 15th.
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Susan and I just returned from a week in Santa Monica and Venice Beach to do some counseling and be with family. We spent our time going to all of the macrobiotic restaurants and other neat venues, but we never got a chance to contact all of our L.A. friends! Next time. In the meantime, enjoy some of the sights seen.
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If you didn’t get a chance to make your resolutions stick since January 1st, you have another chance! And this new year also follows the course of nature. This new year, February 4th, is celebrated in Asia and traces of its western roots are in the celebration of Groundhog’s Day. Groundhog’s Day is a token reminder that Spring is coming, and is related to the Gaelic day of St. Brighid. This is the time of the year we get Spring fever, where we begin to yearn more strongly for warmer weather and the outdoors.
This is because nature’s energy begins to rise, causing us to shed the heaviness we have accumulated during the winter. The height of winter also happens to be the beginning of spring. A prime example of this is that the sap in trees begins to run again. We are actually moving into the time and feelings of spring.
The new year brings change and opportunities, and we can align ourselves with this new and changing energy by incorporating lighter things into our diets. Start to cook less, bake less and start to increase lightly cooked dishes and salads. It’s especially important to be cautious about introducing strong sweets and cold foods until warmer weather stabilizes. For example, baked squash and beans are great winter dishes whereas iced coffee and ice cream are best suited for the warm summer weather when we’d like to cool ourselves.
Now is a good time to observe how we can adjust our diet and activity to align with nature’s rising and warming energy.
This past week, I traveled to Lisbon, Portugal to participate in two events.
The first three days of my trip, I participated in The GreenFest, a three day festival at the Estoril Congress Center. As you may guess, The GreenFest commits to annually showcasing and demonstrating the current progress and topics surrounding sustainability in business, technology and lifestyle. The practice of macrobiotics fosters personal, social and environmental health. One of these ways, for example, is the emphasis on eating local, indigenous foods which naturally reduces our carbon footprint. I was happy to be a part of this discussion in Portugal. At The GreenFest, I gave two presentations:
1) What’s Your Gut Telling You?
2) Live and Prosper with ‘The Great Life Diet’
The second three days of the trip, I participated in The Macrobiotics Teachers and Practitioners Conference with others from around Europe. I met new friends as well as reconnected with some old ones. The theme this year was “Macrobiotics from the Heart: the emotional and spiritual dimension of macrobiotic healing“.
Interestingly, I met a wonderful and creatively enterprising young woman, who graduated from The Macrobiotic Institute in Lisbon. She publishes a bilingual blog and has read “The Great Life Diet”. It is a great blog, friendly, and with many recipes and information. She informed me that in Portuguese, the title of my book translates to “A Fulfilling Life”. She’s going to run a contest on her blog asking readers what a fulfilling life means to them and the person with the most inspiring answer will receive a copy of my book in Portuguese.
The conference was a deeply moving series of discussions of which the topic brought us all together in a very encouraging, supportive manner. I was inspired to reconnect with others and see how they have evolved on their macrobiotic path as well as observing the convergence of our core ideas, despite the diversity of our practices(in some ways). This was revealed to me in hearing another teacher say what I have been thinking and feeling for many years: It is spiritual health that the practice of macrobiotics fosters, which gives guidance and direction to emotional and physical health.
The result and common theme of these meetings was how to make macrobiotics more open and embracing, and how to evolve macrobiotics as a model of health. We intend to have a group website for all of the participants to showcase the diverse applicability of the practice of macrobiotics as well as the overall unity and diversity of our teaching and practice. I had the opportunity to talk about the image of health that guides my practice as well as new directions for macrobiotic practice. I look forward to sharing these ideas about macrobiotic practice in the near future.
The trip to Lisbon was inspiring and full. I hope you enjoy the photos! Until next time.
Last week I traveled to Valencia, Spain to spend the week teaching at the Instituto Macrobiótico de España. My colleagues and good friends Patricia Restrepo and her husband Emilio Espi are the directors of the institute, Patricia is also the director Green Yoga, housed in the same building. Together, they co-founded the very modern and delicious organic restaurant, Kimpira, a block away.
The trip to Taipei with Susan was a nice blend of research, vacation and adventure. The adventure began with the flight, when we tried to leave for San Francisco on July 10th; our flight was delayed due to the crash on July 6th– only one runway operational. We were originally supposed to layover at the Tokyo Narita airport, but ended up spending a night there because there was a typhoon. The typhoon was actually a blessing because it cleared the air of the oppressive heat. Imagine our surprise as we were threatened by another typhoon just as we were scheduled to leave! It seemed before the trip started, we were receiving omens, and even as we were departing, the violent storms of the season ruled the roost over the airport. But, they were no omens at all, just the endless joy of trying to get somewhere that is far away.
We did not stay in the city center, but at The Grand Hotel, in an area analogous to the suburbs here. It is very tropical and humid in Taiwan and the cuisine there reflects that. The leisurely part of our visit and the beautiful hospitality of our hosts made this trip memorable and exciting in learning more about applying macrobiotics internationally. Susan and I enjoyed frequent strolls through the neighborhood and the Night Market and took most of our meals around the area. I can say that although all of the markings of contemporary western diets are prevalent in Taipei—such as McDonald’s and Starbucks, as well as trends favoring meat heavy meals– we experienced some amazing traditional and contemporary cuisine. Furthermore, I observed that eating in a macrobiotic way comes more naturally in Taipei due to the availability of food and the cultural component of a Taiwanese diet.
A humid diet enjoys humid food because the foods insulate you from the environment. For instance, many of the sauteed items had a juicy and watery broth consistency to them. An enormous and outstanding vegetarian buffet offered at our hotel gave us ideas of the range of food, which included many rice and noodle dishes. One day, we breakfasted on rice porridge and oatmeal was often present. I found the oatmeal as quite satisfying and complementary to the climate.
Soups were also included with every meal, not necessarily soy based. We enjoyed noodle and vegetable soups alike. Most dishes prepared in the places we visited used pork fat or vegetable oil; our hosts were vigilant with helping us avoid dishes with pork fat. We tried to find Taiwan’s analogues to common American vegetables and found an array of leafy vegetables. Common staples included scallions, bok choy and watercress; I also remember sweet potato leaves and many types of cabbage. Other vegetables included sweet potato, taro potato, jinenjo(or mountain potato) potato and burdock. When we left, we were given a snack of steamed buns, stuffed with cabbage that were absolutely delicious and could keep for up to two days. We took these with us when we were traveling as well. Of course, there was a lot of fish and shellfish, but there was also warm unsweetened soymilk served with breakfast, not to mention tofu and seitan.
The Night Market was where we had to avoid eating. Young people spend much time at the Night Market and the smell of the oils in the food served there was too much. It was nice being a part of the throngs of people that came to the markets, and we spent much time perusing the strange objects we came upon.
Overall, Taipei was a peaceful place for us, save for the zooming scooters that seemed to abide by their own logic! We got to slow down, spend time with our client and each other, and delight in a place and climate where the macrobiotic diet is as natural to practice as is putting on shoes in the morning.
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Beer Week in Philly has caused me to reflect on the history and nature of beer and other alcoholic beverages. I did not like to drink beer or any other alcoholic beverages until after I started to practice macrobiotics. As a teenager I preferred sweets and ice cream to alcohol. Over the years of eating grains, and other complex carbohydrates, I gradually developed a taste and appreciation for well crafted beer, sake or wine as well as miso, sauerkraut and other similar foods. It seems that naturally pickled and fermented foods, whether they contain an appreciable amount of alcohol or not, complement a diet based on grains, beans, vegetables and other complex carbohydrates.
After changing to a healthier diet and lifestyle I became intensely interested in the history of food and it’s various methods of preparation. My studies revealed that pickled and fermented foods are the most unique methods of food preparation in the world. For example, sauerkraut is much more than cabbage and sea salt. In the fermenting and pickling process unique and beneficial enzymes, bacteria, vitamins and other nutrients are formed that were not there before. The preparation and regular consumption of sauerkraut has been an important family tradition throughout China and Europe for more than a thousand years. People have know about it’s wide variety of health benefits for a long time.
Fermented beverages date back to the beginning of recorded history. These beverages have played an important role in religious and cultural ceremonies. There is also a lot of controversy about the the benefits or harms of alcohol consumption from religious and cultural or social viewpoints. When I lived in Japan, while out drinking sake, I often heard that sake is thought of as the king of one-hundred medicines. Later I heard the second and maybe more important part of this saying, sake is also the king of one-thousand poisons. Maybe this is the key to this controversy. It is unfortunate that our nature often leads us to excesses that can prove harmful.
After World War II, naturally pickled and fermented foods have almost entirely disappeared due to the use of modern food preservation techniques. Modern preservation techniques leave us with dead rather than living foods. The action of beneficial enzymes, bacteria and yeasts are destroyed rather than encouraged, the way they are in traditional food processing.
Slowly over the years naturally pickled and fermented foods have reappeared due to the work of the Kushi’s, Aihara’s and other macrobiotic teachers. Pickling and fermentation have been an important part of macrobiotic education since the 1960’s. The introduction of naturally produced and fermented miso, soy sauce, umeboshi plums and sauerkraut has slowly sparked new industries.
Since the 1970’s local micro-brewed beers that are naturally produced and unpasteurized have slowly reached the mainstream. In the same time there has also been an explosion in organic, unpasteurized sauerkraut and other naturally pickled vegetables and foods including miso. It is my hope that these new industries will also create an renewed interest in healthier foods. I hope you enjoy your local micro-brews sensibly this week with healthy vegetarian snacks.
Didn’t get the chance to participate in last week’s Twitter contest to win $100 off a macrobiotic consultation? Never fear, you have a second chance this week.
Here’s what you do:
Follow @dennywaxman on Twitter and “Like” Denny Waxman on Facebook, if you’re not doing so already. Next, answer the question, @dennywaxman why do you love macrobiotics? between 8 am and 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, February 29, 2012. Be sure to include @dennywaxman and the hashtag #strengtheninghealthmacrobiotics in your response.
What do you win? One lucky person will win $100 off a macrobiotic consultation with Denny Waxman. The winner will be announced via Twitter. See rules here: http://dennywaxman.com/blog/index.php/2012/02/20/twitter-wednesdays/