By Shihan Mary Bolz
Master of Science Oriental Medicine
Doctoral Fellow, FBU
Master Martial Arts Instructor
How about balance your life this year? Whereas the economy may be in a recession, which tends to indicate lacking of something (like money!), there are many excesses in this country and most of the people in the United States are in a condition of excess. They are getting too much.
The ancient theory of yin and yang is the theory of balance. It is based on nature’s design with certain unchanging universal principles that maintain homeostasis within and with nature. Balance also means that there are no excesses and no deficiencies; that everything is in a neutral state of flux; i.e. balance. The current state of the economy has been caused by excess; over indulgence in the game of “making” money or gaining more that the system can handle, and more than individuals can handle. The health of the nation is in this condition: seemingly deficient, but caused by excess and overindulgence.
Health insurance is not the problem in this country, health is. The health of our citizens. Yin and yang are the opposite, yet necessary and complementary forces in nature that together make the whole. When people, or anything else in nature, violate the balance grossly, then what occurs is sickness and unhappiness. Nature works very hard to bring all phenomena back to balance from the macrocosm of the universe to the microcosm of our bodies. When the yang phenomena are in extreme quantity then things will start flowing to the opposite phenomena: yin. When yin is in extreme, it will start to turn into yang. When yin and yang are not in relatively equal proportions, then either an excess or a deficiency exists in the system. The first thing that must occur to begin rebalance is to get rid of the excess that is in the way. Look at the physiology of the act of breathing in living organisms. The first breath that a baby takes when it comes out of the womb is an exhale. The baby has to get rid of what was inside itself to be able to take in the fresh external air. In Qi Gong (Chinese) and Ki Koh (Japanese), as well as all Japanese martial arts, practices of deep and efficient breathing are employed to optimize the function of the human body for physical self-defense and to enhance health. In these practices, the most important to concentrate on and the most emphasized is the exhale; the inhale will occur without thinking. The exhale should be seven to twenty times longer than the inhale and should be fully, until the person feels like no more air can be squeezed out of their lungs. Then, new, fresh air can be taken in to be exchanged and absorbed within the body. So getting rid of the old air comes first.
Getting rid of the excess, unwanted, come first.
Now on this earth, many humans are in a state of excess. They have taken in and taken in and are not getting rid of the old and built-up excess. Excess material things, excess chemicals produced and consumed, excess intake of food and drink, excess lifestyles of either too much activity or excess inactivity. We need to cut out the toxins in the system before balance can be obtained. Humans have created too many toxins for this earth to handle. The earth is trying desperately to keep up and cleanse itself, but there is a limit. The oceans are full, the air is full, the land is full, the soil underneath is becoming full. Therefore, we must cut down on the toxin that we are feeding the earth. In addition, we must cut down on the toxin we are feeding our livestock, our plants, our fish, our pets, our own individual human bodies. You get the point. Get rid of the junk so all of nature can cleanse and “breathe.”
We, as a nation, must drastically change our food supply and our eating habits in order to cut down on this toxin. In addition to using only whole foods that are organically grown without excess chemical usage; we must cut down or eliminate the consumption of processed sugar products and sodas; and the consumption of flesh-based foods; i.e. meats.
There is another enormous pollutant in our bodies; one that is being “maxed” out and creating worse and worse health among humans and animals. That is the use of an excessive amount of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Medications and agricultural chemicals are the extreme items of consumption in our modern world. In nature, such single, isolated components are not used. We have created an unimaginable and unrealizable (by most people) evil monster with all these individualized chemicals. There is no doubt that all drugs have possible side effects of one form or another. Check your Physician’s Desk Reference for any drug, prescribed or not and there is not a single one of them without listed side effects. One drug taken internally is a foreign substance to the bodies of living organisms and systems. They, by default, since they are not something created by nature’s method, are an excess and burden for that system.
In addition, many people are taking more than one drug and there is the very possible interaction of these grossly imbalanced chemicals with potent effects. While many of the drugs appear to be helpful; most are merely masking or superficially controlling actions in the body. They are an artificial control in managing symptoms; they do not get the body to properly work itself again. Only nature heals. Drugs are meant to be taken short term to provide some relief while the body heals itself. They are not cures. While some drugs are indeed helping us, they are also killing us. The discovery and use of antibiotics has been a great lifesaver; but the extremely excessive use of them is becoming harmful to the environment and us. Nature is very powerful. Nature is smart.
Nature controls and rules; not the humans. The human’s small minds had not foreseen the destructive consequences when they started creating gasoline, plastic, agricultural chemicals, and prescription drugs. Nature itself is highly adaptable and self-healing. Of course, the smaller life forms that we set out to destroy learn how to adapt to our simple chemicals meant to destroy them. Thus, we have antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
This is a blessing. This proves the power of nature! Good for those little creatures! If you are interested in bringing yourself back into balance, in feeling exuberant and alive, healthy every day and at peace with yourself and others; you must first get rid of excess. one of the excesses especially overlooked is cutting down and/or eliminating the use of medications, prescribed or over-the-counter. They are extremely overused and many are unnecessary. Many of us practicing Traditional Oriental Medicine have found that patients on heavy dosages and multiple types of medication have a much harder time healing than those who are on few medications. This is especially apparent in the case of patients trying to get rid of pain and who are on NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and steroidal drugs. Because acupuncture works by “waking up” natures healing power and stimulating the natural healing function of the body; less results from acupuncture seems to occur on those patients with regular use of these drugs. Many of the drugs seem to “confuse” and even suppress or interrupt the natural healing.
So, before you go and run to the medicine cabinet or the drug store for that Tylenol the next time you get a headache; try toughing it out. Exercise, practice deep breathing, resting, or seeking alternative methods of natural health care. Extreme pain, however, should always be checked out by a healthcare professional. For example, if you are suddenly suffering from the “worst headache of your life” with extremely excruciating pain; this could be the sign of a stroke. So have it checked out. If nothing is found, try the natural methods of healing. Do not get on the path of flipping from one medication to another, looking for the ultimate pain relief. Medication does not cure; only nature does.
Taking pain medication is only a symptomatic treatment that is holding up the healing process; it can be dangerous. Dangerous not only in long-term side effects, but in that you will keep working out or using your body when your body is injured and it is screaming for you to stop. That is what is done to racehorses all the time. Cover up the pain, run them when they should be resting; for the sake of winning or for the sake of money or pride of the human owners. People do it to themselves as much as to their animals.
Before you pop those pills; stop and think. If you are already taking medications long term, think how you can cut down and eliminate. Ask your doctor for better ways than medication. Ask your health care practitioners to help you cut down and eliminate. Ask them how to change your diet, ask them for alternative natural methods. It IS possible.
Medications are a very dangerous excess that has gotten out of hand and is playing a real role in the poor health of our people.
Look into how you can change your eating habits, work habits, play habits, exercise or lack thereof, habits. Why settle for the status quo? No, it is not health insurance that is a critical issue for this society, it is health. If people will wake up and change their diet and lifestyle, the health services system would not be in such a state and it would not be unaffordable. It is because of the severe health crisis, the quality of people’s lives, the sicknesses they create themselves; that the system cannot keep up. There are so many sick people overusing the services that the system can no longer support it financially. Any new so-called healthcare system put in place will not solve ANY of our healthcare problems. Let us wake up. If this is supposed to be an era of change, start with the most important: change your health!
Recipe of the month:
Wintertime is a cold time. Stay away from cold and raw food; but if you are a diehard
salad lover; try this, it matches the season.
Shihanʼs Cooked Salad
One (1) head of Napa cabbage
One (1) bundle of regular broccoli or baby broccoli
Three (3) large organic carrots
One (1) bundle of sprouted sunflowers or kaiware (daikon sprouts), or alfalfa sprouts
soaked cut wakame (bright green sea vegetable) to equal 1/2 cup (available in Japanese supermarkets or Acupuncture Plus)
Nori Furikake with sesame (available in Japanese supermarkets, health food stores or
health food sections in some supermarkets, try Raley’s of Bel Air)
1/2 cup of Eden Mirin (organic rice cooking wine without sugar or other ingredients)
1/4 cup of natural, organic, alive soy sauce
Take apart and wash the leaves of the Napa cabbage. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a rolling boil. Put in a pinch of sea salt. Put in the Napa leaves and boil rapidly 3-5 minutes, depending on how cooked you want them. Do not boil for more than 5 minutes. Take them out of the pot and put them in a colander to drain off all the water and immediately run cold water over them to stop them from cooking. This will keep them crisp and colorful. Set aside. Boil baby broccoli the same way; it needs only 3 minutes. If you are using regular broccoli, you will need at least 7 minutes. Use new water for each vegetable. Do not use the same water. This will keep the flavor and characteristic of each vegetable. Soak the wakame in boiled water for 5 minutes. Boil carrots not more than 6 minutes. Cut the carrots into matchsticks. Remember, you are going to boil all vegetables in new water separately, take them out of the pot as soon as your timer goes off and immediately put them in a colander and run cold water over them. Then, in a large bowl mix all the cooked vegetables, including the wakame sea vegetable; mix in the raw sprouts and sprinkle with an ample amount of Furikake. Mix the mirin and soy sauce in a measuring cup, stir well. Pour it over your salad and toss the salad well. Delicious and very healthy with lots of nutrients and few calories. If you use prepared salad dressings that you buy, you are back to excess: excess calories, excess chemicals, and excess dairy or…….? Start making your own dressings, like this one. Enjoy!
We are doing similar things in trying to destroy insects and other plants. Pound downs the dandelion with all your might; it will pop back up. Even using those severely toxic lawn chemicals will destroy them. They will survive! Keep on going, dandelion!
Mentioning dandelions; who is it who said that a weed is a plant whose use has not yet been discovered by humans? This is true. Imagine if no humans exist: the plants would not label themselves, dividing themselves into useful and non-useful. They all cooperate with each other and the rest of the environment and balance out themselves and the earth. They have symbiotic relationships. Therefore, humans, please get back to cooperating with nature and away from trying to control nature or to outsmart nature. Humans are only one part of nature and are subject to nature’s rules, so humans will suffer consequences until they go back to that basic understanding of how to live in harmony with all of nature.
Getting back to dandelions, they are very good for humans. They provide beauty. For example, the Japanese view the dandelion as a beautiful flower. Dandelions are also wonderful vegetables. Instead of polluting the plants, soil and yourself with Roundup or other plant-killing chemicals on your lawn; pull them out and eat them. The entire plant is edible, from the flower to the root. Do not waste any part. Wash and scrub them very well. Chop up the entire plant finely and stir-fry them in sea salt, toasted sesame oil, and some good tamari or soy sauce. Delicious1! Dandelions purify the liver, strengthen the kidneys; are high in iron and other nutrients. Why would you hate them so? Because they are difficult to kill, this shows us their strong Qi (Chinese) or Ki (Japanese), which is the life-force energy. When we take care of them, respect them, or eat them, that life force energy is transferred to us.