Accumulating the Wealth of Health
We can look at Health is a similar vein as accruing a savings account. Having a growing Health Savings Account is about making regular deposits or doing things that support vitality on a short, medium and long term basis. Using the analogy of money, we could say that having a “change jar” (where we throw our spare change) is similar to making small or regular daily changes such as health eating choices or remembering to consciously breath ( using the whole torso; front, back, sides) long, slow full and deep. Other variables to be aware of include getting proper rest, becoming aware of eating before the blood sugar drops and about regular exercise/daily. Physical activity (learning to apply correct stimulation to oxygen needs/exchange, blood circulation and energy use-age) or just sitting up when you are spending many hours in a chair (yes, slouching in very burdensome for the bodily systems). There are many slight and very do-able shifts we can make that impact our health and self care; becoming aware of the habits that “take from us” is a starting point, being willing to make slight alterations to include these shifts is the next step.
When we make changes, becoming regular about them is part of the next challenge and moves our awareness into the “medium range” of Health care which slowly & naturally teaches us to return to our adaptable nature and maintain deeper levels of knowing ourselves. We don't have to “stop doing this or that because we know it is bad for us”, more-over, we can allow ourselves to make slight shifts in our daily awareness & activities about Health, let the natural benefits be experienced and the inclination to feel better comes with out resistance or opposition. When we “react”, and use “contrive reasons for changing our lives so we can be healthy”, like taking on a radical change in diet (for example or any radical change), we meet inner resistance and the medium and long term benefit is never felt because we can only fight with ourselves for so long before we have to surrender; can't win a fight with yourself, some part of yourself HAS to lose. Let's say you don't “stop doing whatever it is that is deemed bad for you” and you instead decide to very honest with yourself about what it is that is feeling imbalanced that you do to yourself and you go ahead and become very clear on what it is that you want or don't want as a first step.
The second step is just not to forget the first step, that's all, just don't forget, then continue doing the simple little things that help you, the recent changes that are very do-able. It is important to remember that 'Incremental amounts of effort & progress in the face of “difficult times”, is the key that separates momentum from stagnation'.
After an undetermined length of time, you will have some new & good “Health Saving Habits”, netting you some new levels of self-knowing and the things that you want to change will seem different, less attractive. Allowing change to occur is the lost natural Art of change as it relates to rhythm, not fixing or contriving change, but following the release of something that is no longer useful to you. The slow, patient way is really the fast-track to shedding what no longer makes sense or it not useful anymore. Our long term changes come with deeper level of inner alignment and agreement; where duality becomes unity.
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Considerations of a Balanced Diet from an Eastern Perspective
Traditional Chinese Medicine includes the medicinal use of foods and the knowledge of how to balance the diet. Simple, basic but also very deep principles of Chinese Medical knowledge can be applied to understanding the balance of foods from a broader perspective. These principles become a deep way to maintain and develop optimal health as we learn to eat foods that harmonize our imbalanced conditions. We will introduce a larger spectrum of consideration as it relates to a balanced diet, some areas will be less familiar but begin to make sense as the mind opens and the experiments begin... You will need all your ability to:
sense what you are feeling when you eat; how the food makes you feel, what changes
the ability to track or remember patterns and relate that to harmonizing/balance
the steadiness to allow shifting to occur as it relates to helping yourself
One needs to be clear with one's self that you are in fact, not only in agreement with yourself, but also very intent on learning and running this living experiment. This is necessary because eating is very tied to our desires and desire is a....how to put this..., a wild-card variable in our dietary learning laboratory. Still, we can benefit from noticing the patterns of eating those foods we desire, while also noticing if it actually gave or took from us on some very basic level and if our body liked it or not. Here are the basic considerations from a Chinese Dietary perspective, deeper learning happens from study and practice so this could be some of those first steps. When considering a relationship with balancing our diet, we may take notice of:
Constitution- Each person is born with certain traits, tendencies, genetic propensities, strengths and weaknesses. Many factor make up a person's constitution; this includes learned traits, patterns and ways of being exemplified by others, traumas and positive experiences that had great impact on us. Generally speaking, a person's constitution is a objective view of what we were born with and what we have learned and how that relates to our developing abilities/capacities. There are archetypes or common patterned conditions that every Acupuncturist uses for Diagnosis; understanding our own constitutional imbalances is the first step. And so food can be balanced with one's constitution.
Food Energetics- Food Energetics involves several areas basic in self diagnosis to Chinese principles/theories. The Five Flavors are related to Five Element Theory sweet (earth), sour (wood), pungent (fire), salty (water) and bitter (metal).
Food Properties- Each food we eat can be understood by it qualities. All foods have a general profile that can tell us how to use them. Foods can cause heating, thermostatic balance or cooling and so temperature is considered. In a general way,we can recognize foods are building; tending towards density, strengthening, fortifying .There are also many kinds of Eliminating foods: tending towards cleansing, reducing, refining. Look at foods from the perspective of if they are building or eliminating, begin making gradual adjustments. All foods have a tendency to either: move upward, float in the mid-range of the body, or move downward, thus, direction of movement is considered, Some foods are considered very direct food for specific organs which connects to meridian support. The elements each relate to organs in the body, thus, some foods and flavors can be used to balance conditions gently, and with great effect.
Quality of Food- Quality of Food is connected to strength of aroma, Fresh foods smell fresh, even dried foods can be measured by the strength of aroma, Pickled foods have an aliveness to the smell this is easily detectable. Fresh Aroma, good Chi (energy) is still in the food. “Wrecked Food” is a term that includes: over-cooked food, old food, or over-preserved (un-natural ingredients).
Seasonal- Generally speaking, foods that grow during the growing season, in variety, in your region and organic, sorta go without saying. Summer months are warm so lighter, cooling, raw and more eliminating foods (fruits & veggies) help maintain temperature balance though we may need more if we are working hard. Fall starts in and we are preparing for Winter, balancing dense foods, foods that extend blood-sugar, changing of the season soups, root veggies, an inclination to eat building foods, grains, meats etc. Winter require more body heat, so we eat warmer foods, use tonic herbs and eat appropriately for the amount of activity we are having. Food can be measured by how well it supports maintaining heat. Spring is a good cleansing time if you had a winter that strengthened you. Small amounts of eliminating tonics, foods that warm , cleanse (have more water in them) and fortify.
These are some basic developments in our personal awareness that are worthy of our attention, time and effort, especially if you are considering shouldering the responsibility of your own Health and Well Being. The curve for learning seems high but not really, just about wanting to know ourselves and what we can do, as we learn more, to help ourselves.
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1. When we ask for change & change begins, it will be uncomfortable and chaotic.Seemingly unrelated events will feel oddly similar,hang in there...
2. When in doubt, is no time to act, spirit, mind & senses are separated, wait & wait some more if needed...until all is clear, then continue..
3. Staying true to ourselves ongoing is the the gift of stability, which seems to give back everyday, in every way-relax & be yourself...always
4. Humbleness or Beginner's Mind is the state of open, infinite learning; "being right" in often void of receptivity, following, listening... our "Yin" learning abilities...
5. Resistance &/or Opposition that one carries in their life, can be measured by the absence of agreement w/ self,others & situations; seek "workability"...
6. Balance:from bottom to top,left to right,back to front,inside to outside.In extension:what's sensed & adapted to,what's said,heard & thought...
7. Sustainability is wholeness in perception BEFORE action & during momentum.Project possibilities before action,relate to effect in all things. moment to moment...
8. When mind/thought comes before sensory communication (common senses or feelings),precision drops & learning is trapped in "stop/start" mode, flux & open-ness is continuity...
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