Restore Health Through Listening to the Body
A Dharma Teaching by Grandmaster JinBodhi
To relieve headaches, treat the head. To alleviate aching legs,
treat the legs. Does this approach of looking at the body
as separate parts really work to resolve illnesses?
When it comes to dietary recommendations, maintaining a natural balance is vital to overall health. This is in line with the yin-yang theory. Yin food signifies “coolness and dampness” and yang food signifies “warmth and dryness.” Eating too much of either yin or yang upsets the body’s balance. A healthy interaction between the two allows the body to absorb nutrients more effectively.
Treat the Root Cause
Whenever a certain part of our body seems to go awry, many of us seek to treat the symptoms. This approach fails to consider the body as a whole system, unlike Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which views many parts of the body as interrelated — for example, eye health and liver health are connected. The eyes reflect the state of the liver, giving obvious telltale signs of liver disease, such as jaundice, if a disease is present. Thus, merely treating the eyes alone does not resolve the root cause of the condition.
In another example, symptoms of pulmonary disease may be revealed by facial traits such as a flushed, glowing face. Some mistake a flushed appearance for a sign of good health and vitality, not realizing the root cause lies in an advancing lung disease.
In some cases, stressful issues with family, work and relationships could leave a person feeling low. This could affect the quality of their sleep, resulting in symptoms common to depression. Some medical doctors would prescribe drugs to control depression, sometimes causing the patient’s condition to worsen. Even if their condition doesn’t worsen, the causes of it are not being addressed.
Your Body Has the Answer
Our body is like a multifunctional computer. When health issues arise, the body systems will notify us through symptoms of pain, aching, numbness, or swelling. It is our body’s valuable way of telling us, “Help! Something is not right, come fix it!” We must carefully search for the cause and heal the root of the problem. Avoid painkillers and other numbing drugs as much as possible, as frequent usage is akin to shutting down the body’s automatic alarm system. Without an alarm system, the illness will be allowed to develop unnoticed, which is far more dangerous.
Living things have a fully automatic response to a stimulus which is termed our subconscious. This applies to the food we eat as well. If our bodies tend to react in a negative way to certain types of food, it could mean that those types of of food are not suitable for us. For example, if we instinctively dislike spicy food but still force ourselves to eat it, we might experience discomfort or worsen our health condition. Likewise, if we initially hated spicy food, but suddenly grew to like it during a certain period of time, it could mean that our body has developed a need for the response that the spicy food elicits.
Most Chinese eat tofu regularly, but some simply detest it. This implies that some components of tofu could be harmful for them, or their bodies do not require those particular elements. Hence, eating it may possibly cause them to end up having negative consequences.
It is better to listen to your body rather than relying on the latest dietary information promoted in the media. While it is fine to stay open to current scientific findings, the wisdom of your body must come first.
Trust Your Instincts
Most animals, such as elephants, pandas, wolves and other wild animals, have a strong ability to differentiate their food. Elephants, for example, can only eat certain types of plants. Other species would prove too difficult for them to digest, harm the body, or even result in fatality. Their excellent sense of smell allows them to identify and distinguish between thousands of plants to know if they are suitable and safely edible. Unlike humans, animals cannot give names to these plants, but they know exactly what they should and should not eat. Amazingly, a sick elephant knows what it should eat in order to improve its health. Countless animals, including many ferocious carnivores, have this instinct — lions, tigers, and leopards do not eat corpses, instead preferring to hunt live animals and eat fresh kill. Furthermore, they only go after strong and healthy prey, avoiding the animals that look frail and sickly.
Humans have a similar built-in mechanism for choosing and sorting food, and deciding what can be eaten. However, because we now acquire knowledge in a passive, dogmatic way, our instinctive senses have been suppressed. When we relax our mind and body, or enter into a serene meditative state, our intuitive sense toward people and animals will awaken naturally. In this way, we will be able to make better decisions about our diet.
Benefits of Food in Natural State
In this modern era, many of us have access to a wide variety of food; we certainly are not starved for calories. However, it is easy for us to overconsume, which can lead to many illnesses.
Those who live in affluent regions should incorporate more vegetarian and raw food into their diet. This will allow the digestive system to work more smoothly. For example, if you eat a kilogram of food and only expel half a kilogram’s worth every day, then where did the remaining half a kilogram go? Apart from converting to energy needed by the body, used up through breathing and sweating, the remainder will accumulate as fat; the food that contributes to our fat is junk food, and that includes the so-called “healthy food.” Whatever we do not expel or absorb, we accumulate, and this eventually may result in different types of sickness. Consequently, many people are adopting a new approach: detoxification.
There is no shortage of detox products on the market; some claim to help with weight loss, others claim to speed up metabolism. I believe it is most vital to eat more vegetarian and raw food. By raw food, I don’t mean raw beef or seafood, but unprocessed vegetables and fruits in their natural state, such as celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, etc. One can consume three to five portions of vegetables and one portion of fruit, depending on body constitution. Consuming raw food as part of our breakfast is especially beneficial in improving the body’s metabolism and digestion.
Eating Right and Balanced
Before eating, it is important to first consider how smoothly your food can be discharged. Having an insatiable appetite is an issue that can result in various illnesses, as it increases the burden on the body and organs. Those who eat excessively may have an accumulation of fat around their heart and liver, which increases
the risk of getting a disease.
Those who overeat may find it challenging to think because their brains have become sluggish. When the body’s burden is too great, its normal functions may slow down. The more you eat, the slower your body systems operate — not only will you gain weight, your mind will not be as active and quick-thinking.
Home-cooked meals prepared by ordinary folks are probably the best healthy food we could have. What types of home-cooked food? Diets abundant in whole grains and fresh vegetables can provide all the nutrients needed by our body.
Some diseases are not started by environmental toxins, but merely an accumulation of unwanted static energy. To put it simply, you’ve eaten too much of what
you shouldn’t have, over a period of time. As a result, the body is under chronic stress. Our state of health really depends on maintaining the right degree of balance.