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Noise, common courtesies and disease June 30, 2010

Do you have time to watch the clouds?

DOES anyone out there feel that life is become less than civilised, despite our huge technological advances over the last half century? I would even go so far as to say that these very technological advances has led to a certain amount of de-civilisation…and a corresponding increase in stress-related illness.

Years ago, people had time for leisure, time to sit and stare, or have conversations with families and friends. To actively build relationships. Time where the ‘connection’ was valued. (Remember when we would sit on the front porch and chat after dinner?)

Today, no-one has the time – I just met a couple who conducted their entire courtship via text message  because both were so busy travelling for their jobs. I’m convinced that it won’t be long before marriages are solemnised via videoconference and Skype!

Of course, here in Singapore, the noise level makes contemplative time a luxury few achieve. The constant groan and whine of traffic, of renovations all around because of an active construction industry and home sale market, the shouting from people who need to make themselves heard above the noise. Is this what we call civilisation? Or progress?

From a macrobiotic perspective, we say that people are living more ‘yang’ lifestyles – rushing about, highly active, where the body and mind never gets a chance to simply ‘sit’ still to simply be, to contemplate, think and reflect.

Couple this with an increasingly yang diet, and what you have is simply…too much yang. Even in the emerging countries, traditionally more vegetarian, we see an uptrend in chronic illness. As economic development takes hold, meat consumption increases – a common phenomenon. And later, so does chronic illness.

It is my belief that the constant stress of simply getting through each day takes its toll on our bodies. The strain of being in motion all the time, of having to juggle several tasks, of working around the clock because remote teams and international business connections make time-zones irrelevant. The  stress makes people impatient, eager to get to the next thing – so much so that the basic civilities of human contact have gone the way of the dodo.

When was the last time you chatted with your neighbours, had morning coffee with them? Spent hours talking to your kids, rather than palming them off on the TV cum babysitter, or the tuition teacher, or tennis coach or their school teacher? Or simply picked up the phone (not text messaged or emailed!) to talk to someone without agenda – just to re-connect?

I think this modern way of living has almost de-humanised us in the sense that it takes us away from a community of other human beings where our interactions were focused on relationships, rather than agenda.

People need people! Chronic illness is our body’s way to telling us so. I have met many people who tell me that the diagnosis of illness was a wake-up call, and that it took that diagnosis for them to listen to their bodies, to slow down, to review priorities. No-one ever died saying: Gee, I wished I had made another million bucks! But many have passed on saying: I wish had I more time with my spouse/partner/kids/parents/lover…

So won’t you take some time today to make a human connection, without agenda? No talk of work, jobs, business, money, the latest Hollywood blockbuster or the new ‘It’ bag.  Just focus on things which touch your essential human-ness – kindness, love, peace, friendships, spirituality, community. These unite us all and respecting this part of ourselves is respecting the natural order and our place in it.

It is the recognition of this that is the beginning of healing.


Why do people sabotage their own healing? March 30, 2010

Filed under: Living out Loud,Macro-chat — purecommunicationspr @ 6:48 pm

I have spent the better part of today trying to talk people out of their need to cheat on their diets, or trying to persuade them to release old food habits, such as eating hot cross buns during Easter, or continuing to juice or eat raw salads on a daily basis.

Once having started on the healing diet, with the body working on redressing its intrinsic homeostatic balance, eating at the extreme ends of the food spectrum will throw the body out of whack again, and therefore, more work will need to be done to rebalance the body.

The see-saw proccess, especially for those in delicate health, is not good and takes alot out of the body – taking up energy and other resources that could be directed towards healing.

Today, I realised that the relationship with our food goes so deep that in spite of an intellectual acceptance of the efficacy of macrobiotics, people still cannot break the link. Food is linked to childhood choices, rewards for good behaviour, the food eaten on the special first date…loads of emotional baggage is linked with food choices.

I think of this as the last frontier in the road towards total health.

Once people are able to cut these ties, and exorcise themselves of this unhealthy tie, they will well and truly be on the road to healing. Until then, the diet, true healing will remain elusive.

Macrobiotics means a total break with everything that brought you to the point in your life when you decided that you had to try macrobiotics – in my case, it was a cancer diagnosis.  In my practice, these tend to be cancer patients with no further medical options. It is very painful to watch people at this stage of their lives still sabotaging their own healing with poor food choices.

Ironically, it is at this stage of their lives that they reach for familiar comfort provided by food. And even more ironically, it is at this stage of their lives when they need most to make a break with the past, understand how they have arrived at this state of health and decisively take steps into their own, healthy, future.

It is frightening to make this total break with everything that has defined you in the past. But in order to survive, and to become the new, better and healthier you, that break is essential. Let go, and reach for the future – the first step is the hardest. The rest becomes an adventure of discovery.


The More you Want It, The More You Will Commit February 1, 2009

Filed under: Living out Loud,Macro-chat — purecommunicationspr @ 8:59 am
Good changes require a strong commitment

Good changes require a strong commitment

IN recent months, with the election of the first African American President, the word CHANGE has never been more pregnant with significance. It has come to mean the dawn of a new era of hope, of home-and-hearth values, of ‘right-ness’. Going back to basics and fundamentals underline this movement of CHANGE.

For people who are embarking on a macrobiotic journey, I speak of change as well. For when we begin to eat macrobiotically, and practice the macrobiotic lifestyle, we begin see positive change emerging in our lives. We feel lighter, more full of energy and vitality. Old aches, pains and sniffles we had come to take for granted suddenly just aren’t there anymore. Our skin takes an a firmness and a glow. And the well-being spreads, from feeling good in our bodies, to feeling good about ourselves and our lives and our relationships.

Why do people seek change? Mostly because they realise that the current practice simply does not work anymore. Whatever brought on this realisation – illness, fatigue, or just an inner prompting – they come to macrobiotics because they are at a watershed and want change for the better. Or because they have been diagnosed with a dread disease. The reasons are varied and many, and they are all valid.

Quite a few do not stay the course. Some eat macrobiotically, then fall off the bandwagon. Some do come back to macrobiotics because they recognise its benefits. But – as with most changes – macrobiotics does require a commitment of time and effort. We must give the diet a chance to work on the body. We must commit to eating well, and within the framework of the diet. Constantly eating outside the diet dilutes and even undermines the goodness of macrobiotics. So, if you are eating macrobiotically only 50% of the time, I would say that it is better than nothing in terms of overall health. But I would also say that you are not getting any of the benefits of the diet, if at all, because your body is not being given the chance take the goodness from the food and heal itself before the onslaught from the next ‘questionable’ meal.

What you don’t eat is as powerful as what you do

Many people then say – yes I ate in a restaurant but I made good food choices. I only ate the vegetables and brought my own brown rice.

People sometimes forget it is the unseen factor in the food that can cause as much damage – the Teflon coated non-stick pans, the salts and other seasonings used. In Chinese restaurants, even simple stirfried  vegtetables are laced with monosodium glutamate and the special XO sauce.

In macrobiotics, one has to remember that it is as much about what  you don’t put into your mouth as it is about what you do. Sometimes it is better to eat sparingly, rather than to eat everything at the table.If you have just begun eating macrobiotics, I would advise strict adherence to the tenets of the practice for the first  6 months to begin the process of re-educating your body and boost your immunity. After this period, some eating is possible but also within the tenets of the diet.

There is a story told about George Ohsawa,the grandfather of modern macrobiotics. He healed himself of tuberculosis by eating scraps of vegetables from restuarants because he was destitute at the end of the Second World War, having spent much of it imprisoned in Japan for being a pacifist. This would be unthinkable for most of us. And most of us think that to be in good health, we have to eat lots of food and in the absence of macrobiotic food, we eat whatever is there because we have feed our bodies. But macrobiotics also tells us that the body is better off having simple plain food – even vegetable scraps – because it is able to utilise almost all the scraps. But if we ate well cooked but (what our body might consider) poor quality food  –  fois gras, cream sauces, rare Wagyu beef, fpor example –  the body would probably be able to use only a fraction of the intake and the rest has to be processed out of the body. This taxes the digestive system and eventually the heavy duty elimination required takes its toll.

As a PR practitioner, I am obliged to eat out alot. But I have devised some coping mechanisms. For example, I make sure I have eaten a bowl of brown rice before going out so that I am comfortably full and will not leap at the food the minute it arrives at the table. I try to bring my own brown rice and eat only at Chinese restaurants where I can trust the quality of the vegetarian fare.  I eat stir fried vegetables, steamed fish, and vegetable soups – in other words, the plainest food I can find on the menu. And I drink copious amounts of hot tea!

How badly do you want it?

CHANGE also asks for a commitment from all of us. Barack Obama asked for a vote and time for him to make the change work. This is also what we need to give our bodies when we make the change and switch to macrobiotics.

When people tell me that macrobiotics is hard, is anti-social, and time-consuming, I ask them – how badly do you want the change? How much do you want to give yourself a chance at better health? Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. If you really want it, you can and will make it work. HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT IT?

The commitment from Lusher Than Life is that we will work with you to help you make it work. Together, so many good things are possible. But that first step – well, that courageous undertaking is yours alone to make.