FOUNDATIONS OF HOLISTIC HEALTH
The Effects of Diet on Health & Attitude
PART ONE: UNDERSTANDING ENERGY
The Entirety of Creation is Energy.
In order for creation to manifest as we know it, energy is polarized by two enormous forces which are often metaphorically referred to as the left and right hands of God. In the Philosophy of Extreme Oriental Science and Medicine these polarities are refereed to as Yin and Yang. Yin represents the force of expansion, and Yang represents the force of contraction. These concepts are most easily understood by an investigation of the earth's centrality in a balance between the two natural gigantic forces that govern all things in the universe as we know it, called centripetal and centrifugal. This balance is most obviously exemplified by the force of gravity, which is called centripetal force because it aims toward the feet and is based upon the static magnetism of inertia. In other words, it exists independently of (and may be the cause of) movement. The second and life giving force is found in motion, when movement is capture by gravity, we get revolution and rotation, otherwise known as centrifugal force. It's like tying a rock to a string and spinning it around your head. The string is gravity, or the centripetal force, and the energy keeping the rock flying is centrifugal force.
The balance of the forces centrifugal and centripetal is what makes life as we know it possible. If the force of gravity were not balance by the force of motion, the earth would necessarily fall into the sun. If the force of motion were not controlled by the force of gravity, the earth would fly off into space. The force of the earth's revolution around the sun causes it to rotate on its an axis, and the closer proximity of the middle of the earth cause it to be warmer and more suitable for life whereas the relative distance from the sun of the two polar icecaps, either end of the axis upon which the earth rotates, causes them to be the repositories of cold (icy water), necessary to balance the heat and humidity of the equatorial regions. Hence the earth (and everything on it) exists within a balance of Hot and Cold, Wet and Dry (the four "humors"). All this is because of the delicate balance of the earth between the two forces, centripetal and centrifugal, Yin and Yang.
Now Yin and Yang are really only two imaginary words designed to describe and encompass the dualistic forces involved in all phenomena. They are 'categories', as it were, but they are not separate or divided. Each one is present within the other albeit to varying degrees, thereby making the myriad of 'things' that is available and visible upon and in the earth. This is why, in the Taoist yin-yang symbol (taijitu), in the unity of the circle, we see the dark side heading down but with a circle of light with it (portending its past and future), and the light side heading up, but with a spot of dark within it (portending its past and future). But, they do theoretically comprehend all words and phenomena, as that was their design.
So, all phenomena and things are now understood to be some form of balance between two opposite but entirely complementary forces, now somewhat understood and referred to as, for lack of better definition, Yin and Yang. Yin represents the centrifugal force of expansion, and Yang represents the centripetal force of contraction. All things and events are in some way a variation of, included and governed by this balance.
Take for example the colors of the rainbow. Which end of the spectrum would you consider to be Yin and which Yang? Consider the more contracted color, closer to the earth, is red, and beyond the visible spectrum it is "infra" red. And the more space-oriented color, closer to the darkness and cold of the outer universe, is violet, and beyond the visible spectrum, "ultra" violet. There is a great deal of insight in this analogy. The hotter, downward more earth and life-oriented color, aiming toward fire and infinite contraction, would be toward the Yang end of the spectrum and the colder, upward, more space-oriented color, aiming toward infinite expansion, would be the Yin.
So now we get to people, foods and disease.
People: People are born in various seasons and circumstance, and have been seen to carry the consequences of their births in a likewise similar fourfold fashion with infinite variations. For the most part there is a predominant "humor", and various subdominant ones. Enough said. Just to know that people are different but that their differences can and have been categorized according to this science. In general, men are considered to be more dynamic, Yang, physiologically than women who are considered to be more stable, on the Yin side. Just as the Sun is considered Yang, on fire, full of heat and the source of warmth and activity, the Moon is Yin, cooler and less active in that it is not a source but a reflection of heat and light. So Heat is Yang and Cold is Yin, comparatively. Dry and hot is Yang and wet and moist, water is Yin. And so it goes.
But people have constitutional propensities which can be observed and taken into consideration when dietary and medical advice is given.
Foods: OK! Take for example the carrot and the coconut. This is the ultimate example and leaves you to fill in all the blanks. The actual analysis of this process is not necessary in that it has been done for you already in the myriad of literature on the subject of Zen Macrobiotics (recommended reading to be included). But, it is of great benefit to understand the process by which these conclusions have been reached.
The carrot is hard, red, straight and downward oriented. (Remind you of men?) It is more susceptible to the centripetal force of gravity. The coconut has a hard shell, is round, white and juicy inside. It is also upwardly oriented and more susceptible to the centrifugal force in that it relates to space. They are the representatives of Yang and Yin respectively in the vegetal world and very briefly exemplify the process by which the spectrum is determined. For further study I refer you to the bibliography to follow.
Disease - Illness - Imbalance: Manifestations of imbalance are myriad. We see them all around us in the forms of physical and mental illnesses - distortion of the natural - and modern medicine is a manifestation of the same phenomenon: ignorance of the natural order of things, which is and has the force of the divine behind it and is therefore unstoppable and the only thing that is REALLY happening. The Taoists call it the Tao and say that to get with it is to have the force on your side and to oppose it is to face certain destruction.
Diseases are also easily categorized and understood in Extreme Oriental Science and Medicine. In terms of Yin and Yang, expansive illnesses are Yin and contractive illnesses are Yang, and here's where the teaching get juicy.
Expansive illnesses are caused by overindulgence of expansive food. Contractive illnesses are caused by an overindulgence of contractive foods. Confused illness are caused by an over indulgence in both extremes without any sense of balance.
Notice the word "overindulgence" is used three times? Overindulgence comes from fear and ignorance. We are afraid because we are not getting enough of the right kind of guidance and nutrition, and therefore need to keep indulging. We are ignorant for the same reason which only supports the fear. If we knew what to eat and what the principles of health were, we would no longer be afraid, ignorant and in need of overindulgence.
Here's where trust in the knowing of perfection comes in. This is not the ordinary trust where we trust in some unknown force that somehow everything is going to work out. I don't deny that form of trust but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm referring to a form of trust that says a benevolent creation would not leave us without a simple and universally attainable solution to our problems, no matter how deep or complex they may appear to be. That's the trust I'm talking about - a belief that somebody, somewhere, must have some answers. And where better to start looking than in ancient traditions.
Well the Ancient Taoist Traditions speak of the classification of all things in existence including physical, mental and sociological problems into categories of imbalance toward one or the other extreme. They also teach that by discovering and applying this balance personally, i.e. healing ourselves, we heal the whole world. OK! So I'm sick and grasping at straws. I've discovered that everything everyone in modern medicine offers me is only making things more complicated. Here's an ancient time-tested system that requires of me only some time study, simplification of life style and modification of detrimental habits. Will I take the advice and follow it? I think so!
Now we get to blood and Ph balance. Human blood has approximately the same Ph balance as sea water. This is roughly stated to be approximately seven to one; seven parts acid (fluid movement, degeneration and transformation) to one part alkaline (static, constructive and basic). The representative element of the Yang side of the spectrum of elements is Sodium, inherent in salt. The representative element of the Yin side of the spectrum of elements is Potassium (potash, think potato, tomato, eggplant, sweet). The relative ration between sodium and potassium in the vegetal world is called the K/Na ratio. K is the symbol for Potassium, Na for Sodium.
Now we get to rates of regeneration. Opinions vary but they all agree on one thing. The human body regenerates itself and ALL of its myriad parts phenomenally fast, way beyond any previous imagining. This accounts for the phenomenon of healing. So why does degeneration seem to take place so fast in this modern world? Because we're clinging to a status quo, a social norm that requires of us massive consumption of nutritionally dead, commercially processed foods. Our regenerativity is not being supplied properly at all, and therefore cannot function and degenerates. Even so we are still granted innately a fairly long life span but even that can feel like a curse if it is spent simply watching ourselves degenerate while slowly losing the life and wealth we had worked so long and hard for.
What is the missing element here? Could it be a bit of humility? How right is it that human pride and arrogance leads us to our own destruction and to that of everything we've spent our lives for? Can we not believe that a universe of such magnificence provides for our well-being better than we in our own ego-minds can ever imagine, let alone accomplish? Where is the answer? If I told you would not believe it, so I won't! Just kidding.
And now we get to the process of regeneration: How does it happen? What actually happens to food when it is ingested? First it is ground down into assimilable substance with chewing and salivation. Then it goes into the stomach for storage and further breakdown from where it passes according to capacity into the long intestine from which it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and transferred thereby to the various body parts to be changed once again into regenerative cellular structure. However, its regenerative capacity is dependent upon its nutritive quality (nutritional value) in the first place.
The same blood that delivers the nutritive regenerative substances to the cellular structure via the arterial (red) system will then pick up the depleted degenerated cells for elimination through the venous (blue) system. Notice how the arteries (red) are deep and rarely visible whereas the veins (blue) are more external and clearly visible. Did you know that the ancient practices of cupping (bloodletting) and the use of leeches for blood purification were only to do with the venous system? It was (and still is, in some circles) thought that letting some of the blue blood out assists the work of the elimination and purification systems in the body.
Redness of arterial blood is the result of the presence of oxygen whereas the blueness in the venous blood is the result of the absence of oxygen and the presence of carbon monoxide (or is it di-oxide) on the way for elimination through proper channels. (Further on in this series we will discuss the seemingly amazing healing powers of proper breathing.)
Excessive amounts of waste materials create overload and backup in the eliminative organs resulting in storage of waste materials for excessive time in unmoving places. This will eventually cause breakdown of those storage areas and leakage of decomposed waste material into other areas of the body, which causes further complication and degeneration. This is the reason for the increasingly popular use of colonic cleansing in therapeutic treatments. (Notice the use of the words "excess" and "overindulgence", noted in the previous lesson. In coming lessons we will address the causes and cure for the need to overindulge.)
There is an ancient wisdom that relates all health problems to impedance in the process of digestion (assimilation and elimination), which implies that given proper time and regenerative nutrition, the human system can process (heal) anything and that optimum health can be restored. Another saying is that with every problem there is a cure, and that there is no incurable illness except death itself. This goes hand-in-hand with a modern psychological finding that relates to psycho-emotional healing (often called processing) as a form of "digestion", also needing time and proper regenerative thinking. So let's let this lesson on the effects of diet upon health and attitude be part of the proper regenerative thinking that will contribute to the healing of the psycho-emotional problems that stand in the way of our optimum vitality in health and attitude.
Leaving any further discussion of the dilatory effects of excess intake and improper elimination for the time, let's take a look at the direct effects of nutrition or the lack thereof on an otherwise normally healthy person. And let's look at it through the medium of understanding Yin and Yang.