By Dr. Mao Shing Ni, Ph.D., D.O.M., L.Ac.
Here are six pieces of advice from the great masters that have inspired me on my path to healing and helping others live happy, healthy lives. These wise sages keep the statement simple, but the message is profound. If you follow this wisdom, you will live to the best of your health potential and enjoy life more!
1. Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food. – Hippocrates
Many of us have become to accustomed to eating with our taste buds. We forget that food is an incredibly beneficial ally in our quest for health and longevity. Picture the soup a loved one brings you when you are sick, and you know that food really does have healing properties—of course, summer is probably not your favorite time of year for soup! That said, one fantastic feature of this season is that very fresh, nutritious food is ripe for the picking. Colorful fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants that protect you from disease. Nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, high-quality lean meats: all are full of compounds that benefit your whole body. So bag the processed foods and instead eat more medicine! Trust me, it will taste so good, you won’t need any sugar to help the medicine go down.
2. To avoid sickness, eat less; to prolong life, worry less. – Chu HuiWeng
Here are two pieces of advice in one! For starters, chronic overeating will lead to illness down the road. Not only will it pack on the pounds, it will also stress your digestive system, getting in the way of your digestion’s job: breaking down your food so that it can then distribute crucial nutrients to your body. The cure for this is to slow down when you eat by putting your fork down between bites, enjoying conversation with friends, and putting smaller portions on your plate.
Worry and stress are the root cause of most of the diseases that shorten our life span. In our modern society, stress will continue to increase unless you can find techniques to manage it. Meditation is one of the best ways to release tension and revitalize your being. It helps you bring more oxygen to your body, quiets your mind, lowers your stress hormones, and teaches self-discipline, which is a necessary attribute to achieving your health and longevity goals.
3.The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore, the physician must start from nature, with an open mind. – Paracelsus
I will be the first to say that physicians and modern Western medical procedures help keep us healthy. That said, nature has many beneficial plants that we once turned to in times of illness. There are medicinal plants that can prevent disease from occurring in the first place and also help you heal when sickness does strike. A few very common, health-giving plants may be right in your own cupboard. Turmeric, the spice that gives curry its orange color, can help alleviate joint pain. Fresh mint tea can soothe an ailing stomach. Ginger can be heated, made into a poultice, and applied to sore muscles. Of course, if you are taking medication, speak with your doctor to make sure none of the herbs are interfering with its effects.
4. Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it. – Plato
Everyone knows that physical activity is good for you. Regular exercise can help promote physiological well-being, strengthen the immune system, maintain joint mobility, increase energy—the list goes on and on. The trick to fitting exercise in every day is to choose a fun fitness activity that you will actually want to do every day. Try yoga, a dance class, hula-hooping, swimming, or tai chi! Also, look for opportunities all through your day to work in physical activity. Power-walk, run, or ride your bike instead of driving. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Be safe and have fun!
5. The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly. – The Buddha
Regret and worry have a hugely negative impact on your health. In addition to meditation, a practice you can start to bring yourself back to the present is to take a silent retreat! Don’t worry, no need to take two weeks off from work. Start with just ten minutes a week. Walk in silence in nature. Sit quietly in your backyard or on your porch and just notice life around you. It will give you a much-needed break from the demands of technology, obsessive planning for the future, and regrets from the past.
6. Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Lao Tzu
This one pretty much speaks for itself! Take your first step now and watch the amazing results pile up.