Yin and Yang
The principles of yin and yang quality of energy, date back to at least 10,000BC in China. They originally describe the cycles of nature where the summer, day and full moon are the yang phase and the winter, night and new moon the yin phase. One classic description is, that yang explains nature on the sunny side of the mountain, and yin on the shady side.
Generally, yang represents warmth, activity, speed, sunshine, colour and expression. Yin is associated with feeling cool, peace, mindfulness, shadows, subtle shades and introspection.
It follows, foods that warm us up and give us more energy, are yang compared to more yin foods, which cool us down and are refreshing. With a simple awareness of yin and yang, we can adjust our diet, to help us feel the way we choose. (This mans taking a moment to listen to our our-selves) A combination of yin and yang dishes can create a healthy balance to our eating. In addition yin and yang can be subjectively applied to various food related health issues to help refine exactly which natural foods might be most healing.
Acid and Alkaline
Our blood has a pH of between 7.3 and 7.4. It is claimed that eating a more alkaline forming diet helps to support our body maintain the ideal pH in our internal fluids. A macrobiotic style of eating aims for a healthy balance where alkaline forming vegetables and fruits provide the foundation for an alkaline -forming diet.
In addition exercise, meditation, mindfulness, laughter, enjoying life and making time for the things we love, combine to encourage a more alkaline internal environment when compared to our fight or flight emotions including stress, fear, anxiety or anger.
The Five Elements are a Chinese interpretation of how we all pass through natural cycles based on the day, lunar cycle and seasons. The elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
This approach, from deep observation, links our organs and different parts of our body to each natural phase. So our heart and the five element ‘fire’, would be linked to the midday, full moon and summer, whereas our liver and the five element ‘wood’ to the sunrise, waxing moon and spring.
This approach assists us identify foods that will most benefit each organ. For example, spring greens would be beneficial for the liver, using the five element theory.
The five elements are holistic and can be applied to exercise, lifestyle, activity, colour and places to live. For example eating stimulating foods, living in a sunny apartment, wearing bright colours, and joining a dance class would combine to help boost the five element fire. This would encourage greater expression, sociability and spontaneity.
Love of Life
The founder, George Oshawa, was a great advocate of having a huge enthusiasm for life. He encouraged his students to appreciate everyday, even if some days were difficult or challenging. George enthused people to live with curiosity. He wrote beautifully about observing nature, asking questions, not relying on other people’s beliefs, thinking for oneself, and living with a sense of wonder. His wife Lima had a similar outlook.
She cooked for George every day and taught in her Cooking School until she was almost 100 years old, inspiring many students.
One of his suggestions was to apply a beginners mind to all questions, and try to experience aspects of each day as though for the first time. He felt this naturally led to a more humble approach to life where we live with huge admiration and respect for nature and our fellow humans.
Harmony with Nature
One of the macrobiotic principles is to live in harmony with nature. We aim to tread lightly across our planet during our lifetime, leaving the minimum disturbance. The biggest, daily part of this is in our food choices, where we focus on a plant-based diet, giving preference to foods that grow naturally and locally. In addition, the aim is to live in a way that preserves our planet for future generations and is considerate to the people we share our planet with.
At the same time we encourage people to enjoy nature by going on walks, swimming, meditating outside and exercising. We recommend engaging with nature through painting, poetry, photography and observation. Being in nature is a wonderful way to encourage good health and good thinking.