Food For Life – An Innovative Perspective on Traditional Practices
My perspective on Macrobiotics is very traditional and being such, I find myself expressing a radically simplistic approach to our modern lifestyle. George Ohsawa once commented how a tree lives for 1000’s of years by maintaining a very simple and inexpensive yet totally inspiring existence. How? Free of costly supplements, and special therapies, a tree receives nourishment by integrating its life with the same powerful forces of nature that surround all life forms. A tree lives with very basic needs yet shares so much passion by influencing and feeding the souls of all beings who appreciate its majestic presence. These life creating forces of nature are truly remarkable.
I find it equally motivating that now there is scientific evidence verifying the power of these primal sources of energy that ancient cultures have spoken of for thousands of years. The basis of all life that the ancients spoke of as the complementary energies of Yin/Yang are now referred to as gravity, electromagnetic, strong(holding material together) and weak(moving phenomena apart) forces. The Tao, or Infinite universe, now referred to as the Unified or Zero Point field is the space that nourishes all life forms.
No wonder Macrobiotics was once so popular. Especially from the 60’s to the early 1990’s there was a huge Macrobiotic movement. After all, Macrobiotics provided a simple method to understand the workings of the primal forces that create and influence all life. People of all religions and cultural backgrounds flocked to learn this art of life that could easily be integrated into any system of belief…AND it helped so many people heal their lives. The freedom we felt manifested in miraculous changes that like quantum physics surpassed the expected outcomes of Newtonian laws and allopathic medicine. Tumors disappeared and the only explanation doctors could give was we must have misdiagnosed it? Physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms transformed and they were replaced with the gift of vitality and most importantly tools to achieve freedom. Tools to choreograph one’s life according the forces of nature. WOW!
In New York city in the 1980’s I assisted, Shizuko Yamamoto, Michio and Aveline Kushi and their trained senior counselors who were busy daily educating through classes and private consultations. 100’s of new people weekly, from all walks of life came to the Macrobiotic center of New York to learn. The Kushi Institue in Boston had at least 10 live-in study houses where students lived and learned the Macrobiotic Way. Classes were packed. On the West coast, Herman and Cornelia Aihara and Noburo Muramoto sparked the flame of inspiration. People like Michel Abesera who were first generation students of the original teachers formed centers internationally in almost every major city across the planet.
There was a collective consciousness paradigm around “MACRO BIOTICS” that outweighed any minor imperfections and the result was so inspiring. Michio’s dream of “One Peaceful World” was unfolding and I am so humbled and grateful that I experienced first hand this wave of consciousness.
What happened? Centers have closed everywhere. There are now comparatively rare groups of people in select areas who study from books or with teachers who are doing their best to keep the flame lit. The collective consciousness around Macrobiotics has shifted and through understanding and reverent willful intention I choose to be part of the continued evolution of “the dream”.
I understand the reasons for the drastic popularity decrease to result from 2 main categories:
On a primal/intuitive level people are very aware of how to be healthy. Vital health provides us with the freedom we like and we are inspired to learn how and why our lives work. Macrobiotics, as taught by the original teachers appealed to these fundamental human drives. Macrobiotic philosophy often insists there are no good or bad practices, only practices that influence our lives in a yin or yang way or in a way that parallels the seasons of nature that we are inherently a part of. People eat according to season, climate, lifestyle, and genetic tendencies and there are no absolute rules. If we expose ourselves to too many extremes our bodies will show symptoms— a signal to readjust our lifestyle.
Sounds great …BUT since we also we also run away from inconsistency—often labeled as hypocrisy, what happens when we read the books written by our leaders or their assistants and find the words and the actions of the master teachers to be incongruent. Read most Macrobiotic books and the blade of guilt will often constrict every cell in the reader’s body. So many students and clients get the impression that “Yin is sin” and fruit, raw foods, herbs, spices and salad are dangerous. This rigid writing style continues to influence newcomers to Macrobiotics.
From a very early age we learn by example. We resonate with statements like “be the change you want to see in the world”. We look to our leaders and teachers to support us through the examples they set as experienced healthy people. Is there hypocrisy or a lack of consistency in the Macrobiotic principles and practices that people need to create a foundation to build their lives upon?
It’s intuitively and commonly known that the lungs are our most important organs responsible for nourishing and cleansing our body minds and spirits. We need O2 more than food. We can only live 3 minutes without it and 70% of all toxins pass through our lungs after being converted to CO2. Mainstream people who might be interested in Macrobiotics believe that cigarettes cause cancer. Why would anyone follow the advice of a health practitioner/teacher who smokes cigarettes? You can “rational lies” it any way you like, but face it, the mainstream population feels a major incongruence between the health principles many Macrobiotic teachers/leaders speak of and the practices they live by.
Cigarettes, incongruent food choices of counselors who eat very differently than the recommendations they make and the dis-eases they experience are obvious head turners that deter people from Macrobiotics.
2) Modern Lifestyle:
Macrobiotic dietary practices are literally rooted in the earth where all foods originate. While we understand the benefits of healthy soil and food grown there, free of pesticides and genetic influences, we have gotten further from the lifestyle of growing our own food. Seeds planted and nourished by the family contain the essence of the family’s needs within the mature plants that are eaten and complement the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of each family. Home grown food or at least, home made foods imprint consciousness and a complementary vitality on the people whose hands and hearts blend with these foods. Are these practices too much to ask of people? It seems that for many, slowing down our lifestyle enough to plant our own food has become a practice of the past. With the advent of the World Wide Web, we have drastically sped up our lives to the point that even spending one hour to prepare a meal is too extreme for so many people today. These essential light giving practices are dimly flickering before our eyes. Can we slow down enough to rekindle this essential light while protecting it from the fast moving winds of our time that threaten to blow out the flame of our life force.
Many of us within modern society are like a plant that is over stimulated on the outside leaves and branches while inside our hardened roots are starving. Like a root bound plant that cannot absorb water, many of us are unable to absorb enough nutrients to healthily nourish ourselves. The result could be summarized as a general immune deficiency. The prevalent epidemic of what used to be manageable colds, flus and infections are examples of how the overall immunity of society has diminished to the point that changing our food no longer has the impact it did when Macrobiotics was popular. People are not healing the way they used to by simply changing their foods. Be it the standard diet or arduous, detailed and often painstaking dietary recommendations, it is no longer enough.
What to do:
Like the root bound plant, it is essential to soak our selves in physical, emotional and spiritual nutrients until our roots open up to accept health-promoting nourishment again.
Exercises that strengthen our core are essential to regenerate the life force. Walking is NOT enough. Internal training systems like Chi Kung, Nei Kung Tai Chi, Yoga and any form of body aligned weight bearing movement integrated with deep diaphragmic breathing will generate more of Yang (Heaven) and Yin (Earth) forces moving through our bodies providing the necessary chi to spark health and longevity. Gardening, climbing and other weight bearing activities are also valuable as long as correct body alignment and deep breathing are diligently included in every step.
We regenerate when we sleep and deep sleep generates vital activity. Avoiding caffeine, which keeps us from sleeping deeply and wakes people prematurely is very important yet coffee and other stimulating influences are so commonly used today. Also, activities that clear the mind so we can sleep more deeply, like meditation, massage or even 10 minutes reflecting on our lives in nature are essential. Every night we touch the darkness that births our dreams. Let’s use sleep time to charge the human battery to our fullest potential.
Sexuality is our greatest expression of physical passion and energy and while it is the single most predominant motivator for commercial sales and marketing, it is rarely spoken of as a technique for promoting vital health.
Loving sexual relations that cultivate deep intimacy and generation of chi make a radical difference in our vitality level. Practices for men and women are different and because this would be an article in itself, I will leave it as a topic for further study.
Eating delicious, freshly prepared food in a balance that honors each person’s needs empowers the body mind spirit to follow our dreams and life purpose. When everything else mentioned here is integrated into our lifestyle, the food we prepare becomes charged with passion and vitality while intuition guides our food choices instead of prescription- like dietary recommendations.
Emotions are a source of energy and too often we run away from or mask them. We were never taught how to feel and while this too is a workshop in itself, suffice it to say that the physical sensations in every feeling are a storehouse of chi.
Cultivate and circulate the power of feelings.
Instead of making up dramatic stories to “anal lies” or “ rational lies” our wounds and/or numb ourselves to avoid the healing power of feelings let’s use emotions (instead of them using us) to create radiant health.
When making decisions consider:
1) Is the Juice (result) worth the Squeeze (effort)?
2) Is my decision coming from Fear or Love?
And…Since Love NEVER hurts, if pain is being experienced (by my self or an other) than PURE Love is being blocked and fear is dominating and ultimately wearing down our chi.
3) Am I using my brain in a way that unifies me with my soul’s authentic desires or am I letting my brain use me to separate from my authentic soul/self)?
4) Does my decision bring me closer to my Dream /purpose in life?
or does it move me back?
5) Which choice improves my health (physically emotionally spiritually)
Since our bodies are a protective covering that nourishes our internal gestating spirit, like a pregnant woman nurturing new life, I ask: if I were pregnant which choice would I make?
AND since I am not physically pregnant can the choice I make be easily balanced (by my body mind spirit) today or tomorrow? Example: drugs, alcohol, sugar, vulnerable and extreme relationship interactions—any longer than one, two, or three days of recuperation can influence us to consider whether that choice really serves us or do we serve that choice?
6) Take some quiet time to reflect and/or meditate— to gather our selves, empty the mind of distracting interference and intuitively feel which path to take.
7) Practice using intuition daily– Guess and learn to recognize how you feel when intuitive rather than interference/distracting answers are calling for attention. Intuition is the highest form of consciousness.
Thank-you for reading. Perhaps these words ring a bell for you? If you have any comments or questions, I welcome your inquiry- Until we meet….
How to know? Where to Go?
What is the Way? Fast or slow? Shhhhhh
Breathe… feel the body Where are my feelings?
High or low? Above or below…warm or cold….Am I loose or tight.. Left or right?
Breathe… feel the body BE with it- You’ll live
Stay with it …Even better… Let’s love the wait
Stop the escape
Let the “WAY”/TAO surface
Let it flow
Seymour Koblin, founder of the International School of Healing Arts consults and facilitates group and apprenticeship style classes and certifications, which can be applied to wards the International Macrobiotic Nutrition Counselor program. Various study options include combinations of online, distance and private or small groups trainings. Depending on individual interest, studies include Traditional Chinese Medicine, Zen-Touch™ Shiatsu, Communication Skills, Emotional Healing, Intuition, Chinese Astrology and Feng Shui and Chi Cultivation throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico and Europe. He is the Author of The Art of Zen-Touch Shiatsu™, Food For Life, Shaping Our Destiny and Chi Cultivation and Circulation.