…Autumn is a fine time for long talks in the evening,
And having your friends and music handy.
No use mourning about the summer’s leaving
‘Cause every season has her home and family…
Casse Culver, “Good Old Dora”, 1976
Autumn Equinox, the time of equal light and darkness, came this year on September 22. Just as the moon waxes and wanes each month, so do our seasons. For the several million years we lived without calendars, people kept track of the seasons by watching the night sky and making note of plant and animal behavior, as well as changes in weather. They did not have our satellite-assisted weather predictors, but like our current day animal siblings, our ancestors rarely got caught completely by surprise.
We can eat chocolate (and other desired foods) as an almost criminal act – filled with guilt and denial, or as a spiritual experience. How we experience all foods we eat depends a great deal on the emotions we have while eating them.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the small intestine (where we absorb the nutrients we eat) resonates with our hearts and therefore our sense of desire and joy. These emotions resonate with bitter flavors, like chocolate, coffee, tea and other stimulants. They resonate with the natural element of Fire.
Imagine going to a gas station and buying a chocolate bar to eat while we fill up our tank.
We live in a high-tech world that strives for perfection and punishes any variance from the mean (i.e. “mistakes”) with blame, punishment, and worse. This is Metal energy on steroids. We are out of balance with the organic (constantly growing and changing) world represented by Wood energy. On the Healing Compass Wood and Metal stand opposite one another. These elements need balance to harmonize with health and healing. The rational and logical (Metal) mind must stay in balance with the intuitive and creative (Wood) mind.
We see this Metal/Wood imbalance all around us as we mow down forests all over the world to fuel our metal and plastic conveniences – computers, cars, planes, satellites, air-conditioning, refrigeration, heat. We all know this, but who can step away from this world of convenience and the economy that drives it?
What could be yuckier than fruit flies in a bowl of milk?
Over a century ago (Pasteur developed the Germ Theory of disease in 1861, but it took a while to catch on) we have done everything we could to find and destroy microorganisms. By doing so we have unleashed an unholy deluge of toxic chemicals on our planet. His contemporaries, Antoine Bechamp and Claude Bernard, posited another theory of Biological Terrain, but until only a few decades ago scientists and healthcare professionals ignored the beneficial microbiome. Now we are learning its essential role in health and resistance to disease.
We are all children of this notion that we need to maintain sterile, or nearly sterile (i.e. germ-free) conditions to maintain health. This belief has not helped us. It turns out that most of the microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi) in our bodies keep us healthy and disease free. Trying to stay germ free seems to have a relationship to chronic diseases, especially autoimmune disease.
What do these two things have in common? And what is a Sacred Contract anyway?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine bones resonate with Water frequencies as well as listening and fear, genetics, and our life’s purpose. Last week we looked at sprouts – a living food – and next week we’ll look at yogurt – another living food. Bones, clearly are not living food, and for many vegetarians and vegans not even an acceptable food at all.
Bones confront us with questions of life and death. Most of us fear death. Most of us have had time to think about death over these last few months. What is it that we fear most? Do we fear suffering, pain, losing connection to loved ones, watching helplessly when a loved one suffers? Probably all of these things, and one more…leaving before our time.
Everyone, even apartment dwellers, can enjoy the excitement of watching seeds spring to life! In my next book, Sustainable Healing: Simple Habits to Transform the Planet, growing some of our own food will be the first habit I recommend.
Nothing connects us to a Conscious Universe as thoroughly as watching the magic of seeds turning into plants. Take a good look at a seed. Most of them could easily be mistaken for rocks or pebbles. Nothing about them hints at their inner magic. Indeed, in this respect they closely resemble viruses. Whereas viruses evolved by simplifying into little more than DNA encased in an enterprising membrane, seeds contain tiny embryonic plants encased in a protective shell. Both depend on specific requirements to move to the next level.
I'm taking a week off from the Pandemic Kitchen to move to the Red House in Mt. Vernon, Maine. I've been packing and planning all week. I so appreciate everyone's suggestions last week and here's our tentative plan for the next 6 week session.
May 20 - Growing sprouts and connecting to Life Force. How do we connect through living food?
May 27 - Making bone broth and delving into the mysteries of Sacred Contracts. How do we embrace our life purpose?
June 3 - Making yogurt and embracing the abundance of our invisible world. Can we feel Faith in our body?
June 10 - Ginger Mint tea and savoring Gratitude. Can we find the good in our grievances?
June 17 - Chocolate and discovering our Heart's Desire. Dowe eat it as a guilty pleasure or a spiritual practice?
June 24 - Transformation - Where do we want to go next?
I'll be Zooming LIVE! from Maine - at 7:00 PM (EDT). If you can't make it, watch the taped version on my YouTube channel. Send your questions to email@example.com.
Over the past 5 weeks we have talked about Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Grief. These emotions have provided a roller coaster of a ride and they are the emotions that attract media attention. The fifth emotion of Joy helps to balance out the others.
We need to think of our emotions as a melody that stays in harmony by balancing the notes. No note is more important than another. Each note has a place in a healthy and happy life. Anger and Fear protect us by alerting us to life-threatening danger and activating fight or flight responses to those types of dangers. Anxiety provides an early warning system that receives information and decide how best to handle those situations – perhaps choosing to engage peacefully rather than attack or run. Grief lets us accept and mourn the inevitable losses that come with living.
Moments of joy come to us as inevitably as sunshine emerges from the clouds. In Italian the phrase il doce fa niente perfectly expresses the pure energy of Joy – “the sweetness of doing nothing.” To heal our hearts, calm our guts, and let Joy into our lives we truly need to do nothing. The empty mind meditators seek, is Joy.
The losses from Covid 19 keep stacking up – loss of friends & family, loss of income, loss of things we don’t know and probably can’t even imagine. There’s so much we can’t control. It’s a recipe for depression. How can we avoid it?
Though I didn’t take many courses on Buddhism during my time at Harvard, we can count on Buddhists to teach us about attachments and illusion. We find ourselves attached to many things in this 3 dimensional world, but all of them are illusion. A sobering fact, but there is a workaround.
The practice of gratitude has proven more effective at treating depression than pharmaceuticals.
Do you strive for “grace under pressure”? A gratitude practice will deliver the goods.
Given we’re in the middle of a internationally televised pandemic, we’re either anxious, sociopaths, or taking some really “sweet” drugs. If you are in that 3rd category, please send me a sample!
Anxiety leads most of us to the cupboards and refrigerator. I know I find myself craving sweets like ice cream and candy and cookies. Foods I usually avoid, and don’t even miss. Now an evening doesn’t go by that I don’t think of running down to the corner convenience store (in mask & gloves) to buy a pint – of ice cream.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has an explanation for that. The Healing Compass I describe in my book on Sustainable Health, based on TCM, places Anxiety at the hub of the compass, with Fear to the North and Anger to the East. Each point on the compass has a special flavor. Anxiety’s flavor is sweet. Of course.