Modern society, especially in Western world, is facing a challenge of survival, due to the deterioration of human and planetary health.
Human condition is worsening as expessed by chronic and degenerative diseases which are scientifically proven to be caused by improper, imbalanced food choices.
Planetary condition is worsening due to the influence of man’s activities on the environment.
But these are exactly the reasons why more and more people seek a way out of this vicious circle.
More people seek how to improve their lifestyle, health and nutrition, produce less waste, recycle, depend less on fossil fuels, help save endangered species etc.
Modern Macrobiotic teachings
Modern Macrobiotic philosophy and teachings started with the research of George Ohsawa (1893-1966), who healed himself from last stage tuberculosis at a young age. He studied Sagen Ishizuka‘s (1850-1910) theories about nutrition. Ohsawa combined nutrition with the balance of mineral salts, I Ching, Yin Yang and other eastern knowledge along with the scripts of western philosophers and therapists among which was Hippocrates, Aristotle and others. He dedicated his life in the teachings of Macrobiotics.
Michio Kushi was one of his closest students. In 1947, at the age 20 he moved to the USA, established the Kushi Institute in Massachusetts and travelled all over the world to spread the Macrobiotic practice.
In Europe, many great teachers have been continuing Michio Kushi’s work for decades, including Fransisco Varatojo, Adelbert & Wieke Nelissen, Jeanne van den Heuvel, Simon Brown and others.
Yin Yang and the Macrobiotic philosophy
Heraclitus proverb “Everything flows” is meant to underline the ever-changing nature of the world around us.
If we observe the phenomena around us, we understand that the creation is based on a dualistic nature with endless expressions. In Oriental philosophy these 2 energies were named:
- Yang or heaven‘s, centripetal force, results to contraction, concentration, activation, structure and unification.
- Yin or Earth’s, centrifugal force, results to expansion, dispersion, relaxation, scattering and separation.
These two energies form all manifestations in life.
They are opposite but complementary, as nothing is absolutely Yin or Yang,
but rather one of the two prevails over the other so that we can characterize a condition or phenomenon as more Yin or Yang.
We always say that something is more Yin in comparison to another (for example, someone behaving aggresively is more Yang than a peacemaker).
What do Macrobiotics really stand for?
Macrobiotics, the art of longevity and well-being, is a system that combines the ancient wisdom and tradition with the modern knowledge and needs.
This is realised through the understanding of our self, our environment, our nutrition and the way of life we lead.
The key is to understand and follow the always changing nature of things around us and act in a way that is supportive rahter than destructive to all aspect of life.
From a Macrobiotic perspective, a disease is the attempt of our system to return to a balanced state. By changing our lifestyle and diet we can change our cell growth, reverse their decay and degeneration, thus achieving a healthy, long and prosperous life.
It is based on the teachings of Hippocrates, aspects of nourishment and hygiene, as he was the first to introduce the term.
Macrobiotic philosophy, gives impetus to a modern teaching that follows the ’middle way’ between the eastern and western philosophy and attitude towards life.
The energetics of Life
All manifestations around us, are explained through the balance of the two universal forces of ’Yin & Yang’.
Observing Nature we can understand how do we tune in it. Sometimes we feel cold and others not, during the same period, or we feel more energized a particular day that another that we feel like resting more. Sometimes we experience a sense of a more narrow pattern of thinking, finding it hard to communicate with others and another day we feel the connection to others stronger and communication happens easy.
Why is that? Why do we experience changes in mood, energy, emotions etc?
You see, the environment around us is more or less stably changing. There are of course more extreme conditions taking place in a faster piece of time, but overall the change is happening step by step. So, why is it that one summer day we feel very hot and sweating and the next not that much?
Changing our condition and adapting better to our environment
An important factor lies in the food which we consume.
And how does this happen?
When we consume fresh foods that are natural, organic, without any artificial substances, and grow in a similar environment to ours, then we can adapt better.
When we consume foods that are full of chemicals, grow in a different climatic zone (greenhouses included!) than our, adaptation becomes harder.
Can you imagine what will happen to someone who grew up in Brazil but now lives in Sweden if she/he still consumes the same foods she/he were eating in the tropicals?
She/he will need the best quality of coat to be able to move around the extreme cold winter of the North…
The opposite will happen for people living in a warm area (like Greece) if they consume a lot of animal and salty foods in the warm summer!
Another reason is how we prepare foods!
If we observe the traditional methods of cooking we will see that long cooked dishes are more frequent during winter and more raw preparations during the summer.
- An important factor is how we perceive daily life and the future.
In order to be able to live happily, it is important to hold a positive attitude towards life, express gratitude for all the knowledge and teachings we receive, take responsibility for whatever happens to us, as we are the Creators of our life on Earth, think positively of ourselves and others, practice spiritual techniques etc.
If we manage to observe the energy around us e.g. more contractive and inward in the winter, more expansive and outward the summer, as well as to be aware of the produce that is in season (a visit at the organic farmer’s market can be a good lesson for this), then we can make choices that help us be in tune with Nature and ourselves.
Furthermore, if we avoid extremes in nutrition, activity and lifestyle, then we surely can form a stronger and clearer overall condition.
By being in tune with Nature and the environment around us, we feel more energized in general, cooler in summer, warmer in winter, avoid/limit exposure to seasonal diseases (allergies, flu, sicknesses etc), go through sickness much faster and with less side effects, better psychological state and mood, clearer mental function and intuition, relating more harmoniously to others, a feeling of self respect and self esteem and many more.
A Macrobiotic practice aims at being able to aknowledge our needs in relation to our environment, and make such choices so that we are in harmony with it and in good health.