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The 30th Pacific Macrobiotic Conference was held in Tucson, Arizona for
the first time and hosted by Alice Blistein. Fifty people attended the conference
over the course of the week-end and it was held in a spacious and comfortable
room in a church near the university campus. The weather was marvellous
and the conference very interesting. We met on Thursday evening for the
welcoming dinner, beautifully prepared and cooked by Grace Stanley and her
helpers. After dinner we gathered to introduce ourselves and then set the
agenda for Friday, as we also did after dinner on Friday for Saturday's
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The concern of pesticides is raised that if you cannot get organic foods what to do with the foods grown with pesticides. We have to realise that for many years organic vegetables were not available. In fact in the sixties and early seventies no organic vegetables were available at all. Also if we are eating a macrobiotic diet we are taking in every day foods which have detoxifying properties like brown rice, sesame salt, miso, seasalt, sea vegetables and umeboshi plums. And the macrobiotic experience of those of us who began eating macrobiotically before organic vegetables were available was we did fine.
David Jackson mentioned he was counseling people with cancer in San Diego when organic vegetables were not available and people healed themselves of cancer with using commercially available vegetables, so it really isn't a problem. Pat Murray said she started macrobiotics in the mid sixties and people did fine when there wasn't even organic grains available. Of course, if organic vegetables are available then we should purchase them because even if they are more expensive it means we are supporting sustainable agriculture and non-toxic farming methods. It is probably more illness inducing to worry about it than it is to eat commercially produced vegetables.
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Shelf Life of Grains.
The question was how to keep whole grains from spoiling in a hot desert climate and the answer was to keep them in cool places and not to buy a lot of them at once. Also to store them in glass jars or porcelain containers and put bay leaves in with them. If this is done and keep them in the coolest place in the house, which is usually the basement, we shouldn't have any problems. We were reminded of the story of a pharoah's tomb that was dug up and there were wheat grains stored there. This tomb was estimated to be 5000 years old and so the wheat grains had been stored for that long and when they planted them they germinated and grew and produced more wheat grains!
Dorcas said you can use this diatomacious earth which you can get from Mountain Ark and you can use that for storing grains. Its safe, economical, lasts a long time and instructions on how to use it come with it. It prevents rancidity and infestations by bugs.
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Al Lewis gave a presentation on muscle testing and dowsing. He came across this when he met soviet scientists at a conference in Prague who were using dowsing to locate minerals and also for archeological searches. Dowsing is where you use a willow twig held in your hands and you walk over terrain and if there is underground water over where you are walking, apparently the electro-magnetic field created by the flow of the moving water casues the willow twig to move sharply downward. Also wires or a pendulum can be used.
So Al has been dowsing for a while and has recently been learning how to do muscle testing for the purpose of what is called "emotional complex removal". Al then gave a demonstration of muscle testing where you are tapping into the autonomic nervous sytem as tested on the reaction of the muscles to straightforward questions. And we had a discussion of whether the muscle testing technique is objectively truthful. If it is to work it is important to get our conscious desires to be eliminated in the use of the muscle testing for diagnostic purposes.
The point was made the problem that does arise is people begin to rely on these tests to make their decisions for them and not really develop their own understanding and intuition. But it can be used as an additional tool for helping to diagnose. Since certain muscle groups have been identified as being linked to certain organs, muscle testing can be used to either diagnose or confirm a diagnosis of organ conditions, so it can be used in that way. The only real problem is to distinguish between when a person is in the healing arts that they are in fact healing the other person, whereas in fact no-one can do that; being in the healing arts means the person is in the process of understanding and helping another person go through their healing process.
This was a lively discussion and we all learnt more about kinesiology than we did before the presentation by Al and we can use it as an additional tool in helping our diagnostic abilities. The whole essence, as Al put it, is we need to become our own doctors, and, as Kaare put it, the whole idea of macrobiotic counselling is to become redundant, and any tools we have that can help us in so doing is worthwhile.
The big problem is we, as a culture, do most of our decision-making based on fear, and in macrobiotic language, this turns out to say some foods are good for you and some foods are bad for you, whereas, in actual fact, macrobiotically speaking all foods are wonderful and available, including meat, chicken, fish eggs, butter, cream, sugar etc. The question is what is our condition, how do we know what our condition is and this is what are learning to do in terms of our macrobiotic practice, which includes study and self-reflection.
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How to see our balance/Re-establishing balance.
This topic was introduced by Maggie Butterfield-Brown who started off by briefly telling us of her story of how she and her husband, Jerry Baldwin, began their macrobiotic practice seven years ago. She said that in her case, she was operating the whole time from fear, so that even though she was getting better, feeling better and has gone through a lot of positive changes. She also started working positively on her spiritual development etc, lots of workshops and so on. Then she began to start to feel lousy about six months to a year ago and she was getting tighter and tighter and she was also addicted to sugar, she has bad knees and is on crutches and she is constipated and she is getting anaemic. She saw Pat Murray who told her to get off all the heavy foods, carp soup etc and lighten up. And she began to open up and she began to see all this fear coming up. She wanted to discuss this topic of how to see our balance on a daily basis.
Some responses as to the question of how we know we are out of balance included experiencing cravings, and once the source of these cravings are addressed, then they go away. Cravings mean we are causing our body to become too constricted, in the case of macrobiotic practice, so once we add more yin elements to our diet, they tend to go away. Another way of identifying being out of balance are having negative thoughts, and Kaare went on to say there are only two ways we can be out of balance; we are either too yin or we are too yang.
In terms of being too yin, beginning with bowel movement, the stools are watery, they are more greenish in color, they are fragmented, fill the bowl, and they have a disagreeable stench; if we are too yang, the stools tend to be solid, in small, they sink to the bottom of the bowl, they are brown to black in color, and there tends to be an acrid smell to them. In terms of urination, if we are too yin we have frequent urination and copious in amounts and it is clear; if we are too yang the urination is infrequent, small amounts, and it is brown to dark brown in color. David Jackson mentioned that if we yawn a lot, that is a symptom of being too yin, as is blinking of the eyes a lot. If we go around with our mouth hanging open it is a more yin symptom, whereas the symptom of talking through clenched teeth means a person is overly yang.
In terms of posture, a person who is too yang tends to walk stiffly, and has a tense, uptight, aggressive demeanor, whereas as someone who is too yin tends to be very loose and floppy in terms of their posture.
In terms of our level of vitality, we can be tired from both being too yin or too yang. If we are too yang, the classic, exaggerated symptom is after our evening meal we go to read, watch TV or meditate, and 30 seconds into it, our head falls to the side and we are out for forty minutes or so. If we are too yin we tend to feel sluggish when we get up in the morning. In terms of feeling, a person who is too yang tends to be very tense, very holding in of their feelings and mentally very rigid, dogmatic, obsessive in a very controlled way, and assertive. A person who is too yin is spaced out, disorderly, late for meetings, can't get out of bed in the morning etc.
The problem is that the teachings that have been put out in macrobiotic literature has gotten away from the idea that we are doing a macrobiotic practice in order to become free. Thus, we give our body time to heal itself by being on a strict macrobiotic diet, which, as David said has a wide variety of whole foods in it, and then after the general rule of thumb of eating strictly for as many months as we are old when we start the diet, we begin to explore eating more widely including fish, fruit, eggs, butter, cream etc.
So the discussion went into a wide variety of experiences of the participants which were very illuminating and instructive. One of the most important points that came up is the necessity for being involved in a macrobiotic community, even if it is two or three people, because macrobiotic practice does not thrive in isolation from other people; if we are doing a macrobiotic practice on our own, we tend to cook to our condition, meaning that if we are becoming more yang, our cooking tends to be more yang and we tend to become more yang, our cooking gets even more yang and we get more yang and so it goes until we reach a crisis point, which usually means some kind of accident. So, the advice was to find someone in your area who is also practicing macrobiotics and agree to cook for them once a week and they cook for you once a week, so that at least we are not eating our own cooking all the time, and we can discuss with each other the problems and positive things we are experiencing.
Maggie was asked by Pat Murray if anything she had heard during this discussion would have help her possibly prevent her getting into the bind she got in and Maggie replied that what she has learned is how valuable it is to sit around with people who are practicing macrobiotics and having these discussions, because they are a way for us to ask the questions that are addressing the problems we are experiencing.
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Aveline Kushi's Cancer.
This is the fourth time we have discussed the problem of Aveline Kushi developing cancer after so many decades of macrobiotic practice. On this occasion, Pat Murray asked us to compile a list of yin and yang attributes, tendencies and qualities and we would analyse Aveline's life accordingly to see if the development of a yang cancer of the reproductive organs. We all did this individually based on a list that Pat gave us, as follows:
Attributes, Tendencies, Qualities
Did not speak language
"fixed" Standard Diet
yang cooking style
ate baked flour
husband taught wife never to complain, especially about husband
husband may have mistresses
wife stays home
active teaching schedule
frequent air travel
keeping up appearances(denial)
bingeing on french bread and peanut butter
time as a factor applied to all of the above(1968-1993)
present at Nagasaki at time of the atomic bomb
raised Catholic in oriental culture
ate small portions of food
height 4' 10"
The fact she was at Nagasaki at the time of the bomb had both yinnising and yangising influences and the fact that she has a yang constitution and maybe held in some of the radiation that occurred at the time of the atomic bomb. Of course, Lily was born in 1953, which was several years after the bomb.
The question was posed as to what did this mean for us, what was the message here. The message that Kaare got was the practice of macrobiotics is not one that is maintainable on a strict narrowly centered diet which does not have any flexibility and rigidly adhering to any diet is not healthy. Obviously, from this list there are many factors other than diet that can cause us to become more yin or more yang, The idea of macrobiotic practice is to first find our own center through eating a relatively strict diet to begin with and then to understand how to eat more flexibly and appropriately as our condition improves. And also to look at other lifestyle factors like work schedule, emotional state, mental attitude, etc., etc. as significant factors in becoming out of balance, stagnated etc. Also, the one lesson we learned is there are no guarantees in life.
Pat Murray said she learned from this that there is no way to"get it right".. There is no way to get it right, there is no formula for health and joy and vitality. The problem is tht that is what people are locked into, they want the formula, the right prescription which if they just followed would make everything work just fine. Well, there is none, simply because everyone is unique and each moment is unique and we have to develpop the flexibility to be able to ride the waves of life's ups and downs with calmness, equanimity and enthusiasm. George Ohsawa said we must develop gratitude for everything, especially our problems and difficulties, because they are our teachers. And this kind of education is what is needed that would avoid giving people unrealistic expectations.
David Jackson brought up a letter written to "Macrobiotics Today" by Don Matesz and Rachel Alpert strongly suggesting that the main reasons for diseases of the reproductive organs from a Confucian Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective is that the physiological and psyche-social stresses induced by promiscuous extra-marital and non-procreative sexual indulgences are the primary causes for diseases related to the sex organs including so-called sexually transmitted diseases. They go on to say they are certain that no diet, even a more yin variation of the standard macrobiotic diet can by itself clear up disease symptoms caused by immoral behaviour.
David said he believes there is a lot of validity to their perspective and it there is no question that not all symptoms of disease can be reduced to questions of merely the dietary intake of the individual.
In the case of Lily, Aveline's daughter died after she had developed cervical cancer also, and in her case her kidneys and liver failed. We talked of our knowing Lily and the main thing that Kaare felt was she estranged from her parents to some degree, she was unhappy and she was somewhat of the black sheep of the family. Pat said she lacked attention from her parents, she was lonely and unhappy. Pat felt she was co-dependent and wanted her parents approval. She had a lot of conflict with her parents because although she wanted to please her parents but she wasn't interested in teaching macrobiotics; she was in LA studying at a school of music studying jazz big band composing, arranging, recording and conducting. After she died a package was sent out by Michio and Aveline containing material on Lily's life and in there are haiku poems written by Lily which are indicative of her feeling that her father did not love her and that he came to express his love for her only during her last few months.
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The "New" Macrobiotics.
The discussion was about the new macrobiotics which have come out after Aveline Kushi had been diagnosed with cancer and we discused in great detail all the new recommendations at the last conference. Really what we discussed here about a new direction in macrobiotics which is not so narrowly focused on the dietary aspects of a macrobiotic practice to include taking into consideration factors like emotions, attitudes, relationships, moral behaviour etc., etc.
However, we have heard at this conference that Michio was giving a lecture at the Miami Winter Conference which has just taken place but we do not have anything in print at this time. We called Becket this morning to find out if there is any printed matter available and we received a fax telling us that there was none at this time. So we will have to wait until one comes out to be able to review it.
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Saturday, March 18.
Yin and Yang
- a presentation by Kaare Bursell.
This was a presentation given by Kaare on the central conceptual foundation of macrobiotic practice. He first discussed the principles of the dynamics of yin and yang followed by what he calls the ABC's of yin and yang. During the course of this he explained why there is a difference in the interpretation of yin and yang in macrobiotic practice compared to the interpretation of yin and yang of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Both expressions of yin and yang are correct, the point is that they come from a different perspective. Essentially the macrobiotic perspective is geocentric where the human being is standing on the solid compacted earth, therefore the earth is more yang compared to the wide expanses of space flung out above us; whereas the perspective Traditional Chinese Medicine is that Heaven is the generator of all things and therefore is more active and therefore more yang. And Earth, being the expression of the active creative powers of Heaven, is therefore more yin. As long as it is understood there is this crucial distinction in the perspectives of yin and yang of macrobiotic practice and that of Traditional Chinese Medicine, then the arguments of who is wrong and who is right simply become null and void.
This presentation generated lots of discussion and debate which was very interesting and stimulating.
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Presenting Macrobiotics as playing with Spirit and Energy.
Patricia Murray started off this discussion by saying it takes a long timebased on the way we were introduced to macrobiotics and she would like to see an education be developed now which could somehow accelerate the learning process. She would like us to create an education that helps people get hrough the process without getting stuck the way we got stuck. She feels we need to develop a new way of teaching that is less intellectual and analytical. She doesn't have anything herself on how to do this, but feels from what she has been hearing lately that people are more interested in the spiritual, chi discussions than having the dietary do's and don'ts of the macrobiotic diet.
She also said the need is for introducing more of a feminine aspect and get away from the more masculine values of control, and utility, and consumption. The question is how to strike a balance between the feminine and masculine aspects in each of us, so that if we are too far over on the masculine side to develop the feminine and vice-versa. She feels we are at a critical juncture in human evolution where this need for a balancing of the masculine and the feminine is fundamental if humanity is not to come to a dead end.
The problem is the process if macrobiotic learning and healing is a natural, organic process which cannot be hurried or accelerated and most of us thought that although most of us have had the feeling there is a great sense of urgency, we all feel now that whatever we need to do to help the process with our macrobiotic teaching, our personal macrobiotic practice, we can do that to the best of our ability.
Of course, we can and have, at least of the West Coast, been teaching a less rigid and constricted view of what a macrobiotic practice is and the question that Pat asked is can we get people to the point they understand the flower, for example is the manifesteation of spiritual activity, spiritual forces, with greater facility than we have been able to do in the past. The general response of the meeting was that this is very difficult to do because most people are so out of touch with knowledge of their own bodies, and of the natural world, that you have to start with where they are, and most people are deeply embedded in the material world and world-view.
We ended up with some us feeling that there is no way to hurry up the process, and some of us feeling there is a way to do this and we basically ended the discussion, which we were all very pleased with, because a lot of different points and scenarios were presented by every one in the meeting, by saying that if you can develop an education, a way of presenting macrobiotics, that makes it less difficult, then go ahead and try to do it and if you have success, please come to the next meeting and tell us how it was done.
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How has our macrobiotic dietary practice changed over the years.
Pierre Rogers started off the discussion by relating to us how his diet has changed over the years and what he emphasised was how he felt he had been too rigid and too strict for too long and he had started to widen his diet two or three years ago and he had found it to be beneficial and every one commented who has known Pierre over the past several years how much better he looked compared to say three years ago, how more relaxed and centered and ease he looked. He said that two things he had learnt, which were very valuable, was to not take everything, including his dietary practice, so seriously and to explore widening his diet, to start experimenting with what he was eating.
The question was asked how do long do we need to eat strictly and what if you have cancer when we start. As a general rule we need to eat in a disciplined, strict way for as many months as we are old when we start, so if we are 40 years old when we start our macrobiotic practice, we eat strictly for 40 months. As for the answer to whether we widen our diet if we have cancer when we start our practice, it is a question of knowing our condition and learning how to make balance.
The discussion went on about different people in the room giving an account of how they had changed their dietary practice but one common theme was whole grains and vegetables remained the staple food day in day out no matter how wide they experimented with different foods and that the longer we practice macrobiotics, the less the amount of food in quantity we eat. The other point is the emotional factor of how the dogma and rigidity that has been taught induces guilt and shame if they so-called start cheating or 'bingeing' and this has been a big turn-off for a lot of people. The key point that came out of the discussion is the need to be more relaxed and playful in our practice and to know our condition.
Therefore, we need to understand how to do self-diagnosis and know our bodies signals that are telling us we are getting out of balance. Here at the conference we all appreciated the testimonials that people gave of their own experiences because the anecdotal accounts are very valuable. Buddha Gerace, for example, was diabetic and had been taking insulin for 50 years, up to 140 units a day, and he has been practicing macrobiotics for approximately eight years and is now off his insulin and is doing very well.
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Faith in Macrobiotics.
This discussion was opened by Michael Hurwitz, who started macrobiotics with Multiple Sclerosis, and has been practicing now for fourteen years, who said he feels faith in our macrobiotic practice is really fundamental to the point he does not believe we will get well without it. He meant it is difficult to sustain the practice without having faith in it. He was living in Boston and when he was going through the times when he was having trouble, when he felt like chucking the whole thing because he wasn't appearing to make progress, he had people around him who encouraged him to hang in there, to have faith. And as he continued and then he started to feel better and was showing progress, then this was positive reinforcement, and he began to believe in macrobiotic practice more and more. He felt he had to have his faith nudged by the people who told him do not try macrobiotics, but to do it. He said it took him four to five years to come through to the point that he was running around and walking and he started macrobiotics in a wheel chair. He feels that it is very helpful to have support, and he says the faith that you give your all to doing it. He says that the faith was something he had to develop, and he was told that if he did not believe that he was going to get well, he would not get well. So he was constantly reminded to develop faith in macrobiotic practice as he was doing it.
He was asked if when he was given the macrobiotic explanation for the development of multiple sclerosis whether it made sense and he said that it made so much sense logically that he could plunge into the macrobiotic practice with the understanding that it made sense to do it. This is what St. Paul said in the New Testament, that "Faith cometh about through understanding". He also said that he talked to people who had done the macrobiotic practice for whom it had worked and that was encouraging. He has no doubt that without having any faith or conviction and a positive attitude then it is doubtful that a macrobiotic practice is going to have any benefit.
The discussion opened up to the participants giving their own accounts of what faith means to them and one of the common themes was the testing of our faith, being hammered by events occurring in our lives, like social, peer and family pressure against what we were doing, which occasioned great difficulty in doing our macrobiotic practice, so that it would have been easier to give it up, yet persisting through those difficulties because we have faith and conviction in our macrobiotic practice.
We also discussed whether faith was something we are instilled with or whether it we had to develop faith through actually doing the practice. Here it was clear that it varied with the individual - some of us had faith in it right from the beginning, whereas others found we developed our faith through our practice, our study and our meditative self - reflective practices.
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Adapting to a desert climate/liquid intake.
David Jackson opened the discussion by saying how he and his family moved to Prescott from San Diego and the difference in his macrobiotic practice now compared to when he was living in California. He needed more liquid in doing his cooking, because his food was coming out drier than when he was in California when he cooked it as he had been cooking in California. He also changed his proportion of grains to vegetables to include more vegetables than grains.
As far as his liquid intake is concerned he drinks one to two cups of liquid a day living in the desert climate. Of course, liquid intake depends on our condition but he feels that people living in Arizona drink too much liquid. An interesting phenomenon is that people move to Arizona because they have chronic allergic conditions and, initially, their allergies go away, but, within three months to a year, they are back and much worse than before. And this is because, David thinks, people are drinking too much liquid for the desert climate. The important aspect of macrobiotic cooking is using water to cook everything and using seasalt to cook with; most people have used a tremendous amount of refined, processed salt to cook with and it is in every product on the supermarket shelf, so the kidneys tend to be very hardened and weak from the eating this poor quality salt, and from drinking too much liquid.
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Blue Green Algae.
Alice introduced the subject by saying she was introduced to it by Richard France. It is a freshwater micro-algae. It is rich in minerals and amino acids. It has been consumed by indigenous people for thousands of years. She says the best quality one is from Klamath Lake in Oregon which is fed by springs surrounding the lake. She doesn't know whether macrobiotically it is a good idea or not to eat it regularly, and she has taken it off and on for a couple of years. She doesn't notice any appreciable difference in her energy level when she doesn't take it and she doesn't think it is harmful. She thinks it is useful for people who are not eating macrobiotically. It is a super drug almost and is not necessary if you are eating a macrobiotic diet.
The summary of the discussion of blue-green algae is that this a low order, primitive food in terms of the food chain, that it is in terms of yin and yang a more yin food than fruit or seeds, that it is a manufactured, processed food -not a wild food- that comes from a single source and is relatively expensive and is only available exclusively through a multi-level marketing scheme. It is not a regular every day food but may be used temporarily for people in transition to a macrobiotic diet .
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Edith McKinnon wanted to know how to detect whether we are carrying parasites; Kaare said that the key signs are a light yellowish tinge to the whites of the eyes, which is ususally a very subtle yellow and should be seen in natural light. The nails have vertical grooves in them. The lower lip, if it is either swollen or thin relative to the upper lip means we have chronic intestinal stagnation, which also means we have candidiasis; symptoms of candidiasis include bloating of the abdomen, fatigue, depression, foggy thinking, and in the case of women, vaginal discharge and discomfort. General symptoms of parasite infestation are we are eating a lot of food yet always feeling hungry and losing weight; anaemia, and fatigue.
Kaare related a rumour, and he can only call it a rumour because this came out of a conversation he had; the rumour is that in the interaction of the candida with the human immune system is generated what is called the "L" Body and the L Body can metamophosise into any known bacteria or virus.
The treatment in macrobiotic practice is:
3 Cups Sh. Gr. Brown Rice.
2 Cups Aduki Beans.
1 Brown Unhulled Sesame Seeds.
Dry roast these three in a cast iron skillet until the brown rice turns golden brown. Then let it cool. The treatment protocol is to eat a 1/4 Cup of the concoction for breakfast for five days as it is; place it in your mouth, let it soften by mixing it with the saliva and then chew it thoroughly. After eating it, have a cup of half mugwort, half twig tea. Do this for five days having the normal lunch and dinner. Then repeat twice more at two week intervals. This treatment, along with the change to a macrobiotic diet and doing ginger compresses will get rid of all parasites, known and unknown.
The reason it works is based on yin and yang. The parasites are more yang relative to th