The process of healing can also be illuminated as a seven stage process. First we need to consider the phenomenon of the healing process being a recapitulation, in reverse, of each individual's process of disease. The healing process is one of 'retracement'. If you look at the diagram showing the stages of disease 1-7, and, as an example, a person begins their macrobiotic dietary practice when they are in stage four of the disease process. He or she begins eating the narrow, delineated cooked whole grains and vegetables diet, represented in the diagram band delineated with the yin and yang symbols overlapping one to look like the Star of David(the symbols of yin and yang overlapping one another represent the food groups lying in the Area of Balance of the Spectrum of Human Food-see Fig. 1 in the Introduction).
Speaking imaginatively, the instant we place the first mouthful of cooked whole grains in our mouth, a 'mirror' arises up from the ground in front of us, and reflected in the mirror is the reverse image of the stages of disease we have individually experienced, albeit unawares, up until that moment. As we continue eating our macrobiotically oriented dietary program, we experience this 'retracement' as a recapitulation in reverse order of the stages of disease as we personally experienced them, each 'episode' being relived, in a muted form and for a shorter period of time.
It will have occurred to the attentive reader everyone, whether they realise it or not, is eating, in terms of yin and yang, technically speaking, macrobiotically. Most of us are ignorant of this fact, and therefore our eating habits are uninformed, whimsical and conditioned by family and cultural prejudices. In our example, the person is fortunate enough to discover macrobiotic information when they have reached stage four of the process of the disease.
The beginning of the conscious taking of responsibility for his or her health is by adopting their macrobiotic dietary practice and this is the transition period when 'retracement' occurs.
As an example of what I mean, a man I counseled had start his macrobiotic practice because he had cancer in his left lung. After two years on the restricted macrobiotic diet his lung was free of cancer and about three years after he had started his macrobiotic practice he called me one morning in an agitated frame of mind, telling me 'something terrible had happened'. I asked what the matter was and he told me he had developed symptoms of paralysis of the left side of his face, a syndrome called Bell's Palsy. I reassured him I did not think there was any way this could be attributed to eating a macrobiotic diet. So, I asked him if he had ever experienced these symptoms before starting his macrobiotic practice.
He told me 12 years before he was diagnosed with the cancer he had Bell's Palsy. I asked him what had been done about it and he said it had been treated with cortisone and after a few weeks it had cleared up. I said the treatments had driven the symptoms deeper into his body and they were now resurfacing as part of his healing process and he shouldn't do anything different with his diet and in a few days the paralysis would disappear. He called me four days later to say the paralysis had gone.
The general rule of thumb is it takes as many months as we are old when we start our macrobiotic practice for our body to undergo the major part of healing; if we are thirty five years old when we start, it takes thirty five months; if we are fifty six years old, it takes fifty six months, up to a maximum of eighty four months or seven years. I therefore recommend following the strict, circumscribed macrobiotic dietary practice for at least the length of time in months of a person's age when they begin their macrobiotic practice.
Once we have been eating the strict macrobiotic dietary program for the length of time in months according to how old we are when we start, then we are through the 'transition' period, and it is time to begin widening our dietary practice to include foods which lie outside the 'area of balance', while always maintaining cooked whole grains and vegetables as our staple daily foods.
The maximum length of time it takes for the body to heal itself of the imbalances induced by a standard modern conventional diet of meat, eggs, refined sugar, processed food etc., and its associated life patterns, is seven years, because it takes seven years for all the cells of the body to complete a life-cycle. From the time we begin our macrobiotic dietary practice, it takes ten days for the blood plasma(the fluid in which the blood cells circulate) to be cleaned out, as it has a ten day cycle. The white blood cells have a thirty to sixty day cycle, and the red blood cells have a one hundred and twenty day cycle. From this time on, approximately four months into the macrobiotic dietary practice, with entire bloodstream renewed and revitalized, the healing process is a mystery yet to be unravelled.
We as yet, to my knowledge, do not know the details of how the pattern of the cycle of healing unfolds in the period between the one hundred and twenty day cycle of the red blood cells and the seven year cycle of the whole body. I feel it is a reasonable hypothesis to suggest that each organ and tissue of the body has a life cycle, but the length of the cycle in each case, of liver, of large intestine, of gall bladder etc., I do not know. A possible suggestion is indicated by Rudolf Steiner where he says some of the organs of the body are the manifestation of the same spiritual forces which manifest as the planets, as follows:
The spleen is the "Inner Saturn".
The liver is the "Inner Jupiter".
The gall bladder is the "Inner Mars".
The heart is the "Inner Sun".
The lung is the "Inner Mercury".
The kidney is the "Inner Venus".
So it may be reasonable to suggest the cycles of these organs are tied in some way to the cycles of the orbits of these planets with respect to the earth ecliptic, but this idea will need further research to determine if it is a fruitful line of enquiry. I should note Steiner does not mention the stomach, small intestine, large intestine or bladder in regard of the above idea, only to say the nutritional system and the deposition of substances are expressions of the physical body, in distinction to the etheric and astral bodies.
To my knowledge, as we begin our macrobiotic practice, various bodily events occur indicating the body is healing itself, and although there may well be a cyclical pattern and general order in which the organs heal, my feeling is each individual undergoes the healing process in their own unique way. The pattern of healing of each person expresses itself differently according to the uniqueness of birthdate, place of birth, family relationships and upbringing, and a plethora of other aspects of the way a person conducts his or her life, including karma and destiny.
Generally speaking, the more acute a condition a person has when beginning their macrobiotic dietary practice, the more dramatic are the expressions of healing they experience, which are referred to as discharges or detoxifications; the more chronic and long standing the condition, the slower the healing process. In all instances, unless several factors, to be discussed later, mitigate against the possibility of healing, the healing process unfolds in a wave-like fashion, in that we experience peaks and valleys; the peaks are when we feel so much better, we have more vitality, calmness, lightness, clarity of mind etc.,etc., and the valleys are when we feel somewhat run down, lacking in vitality, our appetite is less, we may be experiencing various symptoms like headaches, fevers etc., etc. The general trend of the healing process is gradual improvement in our physical, emotional and psycho-spiritual condition, and as time goes on the peaks and valleys become more and more even, and more widely spaced apart until they are no longer experienced. However, following the dietary practice alone is not sufficient to bring about the experience of true, deep healing, which amounts to a radical self-transformation, such that we are not the same as we were when we started the dietary practice in profoundly subtle ways; it must be accompanied by a thorough and persevering re-education of ourselves, work on the psycho-spiritual aspects of healing, which I will address later.
The basic superficial symptoms of healing which tend to occur in everyone are increased urination, increased bowel movement and weight loss. Of these, weight loss seems to cause the most consternation, which I find very ironic and amusing. It is ironic in that the American public spends four to five billion dollars every year on hundreds of different weight loss programs of one kind or another, and none of them actually work. In other words, no one can sustain these diets for any length of time, so although weight loss may occur with these diets, as soon as people abandon them, for since they are artifices of the intellectual mechano-scientism of the day they are impossible to sustain as daily fare for life, people gain their weight right back.
In the case of someone going on a macrobiotic dietary program, which, strictly speaking, is not a diet but a daily way of eating based on macrobiotic principles of yin and yang, the general experience is to lose weight, and the weight loss is always beneficial, a sign we are getting rid of a lot of excess toxins which are stored in fat deposits.
It sometimes a person gains weight on a strict, circumscribed macrobiotic dietary program, which merely means they needed to gain weight, except in certain circumstances. These are people who have difficulty in losing weight on a macrobiotic dietary program. They are, generally - speaking more likely to be women with what is referred to as yang constitution, who have not planned their dietary intake accordingly. Men generally lose weight more easily than women because men have a more yin constitution than women.
Weight loss can be considerable in a short period of time - I have known people who have lost 1- 11¦2 lbs a week. The weight loss will continue until it bottoms out at about 5 lbs under what our ideal weight is on a whole grains and vegetable diet, for our height, body type, level of activity, type of work etc., and, after a year or two, comes up to our ideal weight.In my case, I lost 65 lbs, between November 1975 and March 1976, from 195 lbs to 130 lbs (I am five feet, ten inches tall), and my weight went up to 135 lbs after two years of eating the strict, circumscribed macrobiotic dietary program. Since then, and after three and half years I began to widen my macrobiotic diet considerably to where I now eat whatever I want while maintaining whole grains and vegetables as my staple food, my weight has fluctuated between 130-140 lbs, depending on the season.
As to what types of symptoms, in addition to the increase in frequency and amount of urination and bowel movement, and weight loss, we can expect to occur which indicate our body is undergoing the physical healing process, these vary considerably from person to person. However, generally speaking, these 'discharges' can be any of the following:
Coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fevers and flu-like
symptoms, various aches and pains including headaches,
fatigue, skin breakouts like pimples, rashes etc., diarrhoea
and/or constipation, in extreme cases vomiting, and in
women it is common to get vaginal discharges and cystitis
We can also experience emotional 'discharges' as part of our healing process, and these are any of the following(these emotional discharges correlate with the different organs):
anxiety, nervousness, anger, irritability, worry,
depression, sadness, frustration, doubt, loss of
confidence, cynicism, and impatience.
As regards the conventional response of anyone experiencing these symptoms, it is to get alarmed because they mean "something is wrong with me", run to the doctor or pharmacy, get the medicine that is "going to make me well", and if it happens to work, the symptoms indicating the body is healing itself are suppressed, the disease is driven deeper into the organism, you may feel better eventually, but fundamentally you are worse off because the diseased condition is not addressed. Every one I have seen for counseling has a medical record as long as your arm, beginning from their childhood. Once we start our macrobiotic practice, the idea, in this regard, is we never see another doctor again because we realise the truth we are the only ones who can take care of ourselves, and if we cannot, we certainly cannot take care of anyone else.
After all, what is the main reason why the medical-scientific-pharmaceutical industry has such a firm stranglehold on this culture? It is because we have abrogated our responsibility for our individual physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being to the medical profession. And now it is becoming dimly evident to many people that the costs of treating the increasingly sick and diseased populace is getting out of hand - the notion we have any health care is utterly absurd (modern techno-scientific medicine cannot but be both impotent and impertinent with respect to the problem of health and disease) - what we want to do is get the federal government to take care of the costs of our personal irresponsibility and ignorance. This is not what all the various branches of the disease-treatment industry want, because they do not want the federal government to control the subsidization of the multi-billion industry, as it is now by so-called health insurance.
Health insurance is bogus insurance because it doesn't insure your health at all. What you are really saying when you buy into a health insurance plan is that you have no clue as to how to take care of your health, so you will put money every month into a prepayment plan for the costs of treating the sickness you know you are inevitably going to get someday in the future.
When you start a macrobiotic dietary practice and you start to get these symptoms of the body detoxifying itself (and without a doubt many of these toxins being excreted are all the pharmaceutical medications and antibiotics, trace element and vitamin pills you have taken over the years!), this means your body is undertaking its healing process (it as well to remind you these symptoms also mean your body is attempting to heal itself when we are eating meat, eggs, refined, processed, chemical foods etc.) and what we do is allow these healing detoxifications to unfold without doing anything about them, if at all possible. If we can allow these healing 'discharges' to run their course without interfering with them in any way, then our body's healing forces and immune functions get stronger and more vital as they work on getting the toxins out of the body. If it is necessary to do anything, there are many food combinations which can be put together, based on yin and yang and the Five Transformation Theory which are used to aid the various organs and tissues in their healing process.
The major question is how do we know when these symptoms of detoxification mean we are, in fact, getting better, or we are in the throes of a serious illness, a crisis which requires the attention of techno-medical medicine, the crisis medicine par excellence, since it has developed over the years of dealing with people asleep at the wheel of taking responsibility for their health, so modern techno-medicine has had no choice but to adopt a cut, burn and poison medicine in attempting to put out the symptoms of a person's crisis illness. Macrobiotic practice, including but not limited to daily eating of a macrobiotic dietary program, is fundamentally to do with consciously becoming informed of how and why to take care of ourselves, so that we live creatively developing a healthy body, soul and spirit, in so far as this is possible (what I mean by this is through karma and destiny it may not be possible for a number of people to thoroughly revitalize and rehabilitate a diseased organism, though I feel this is no reason for not trying. Karma should not be confused with fatalism). I should emphasise macrobiotic dietary practice is far removed from any notion of preventing disease, since this is not possible. I am reminded of the bumper sticker often seen in the Bay Area which has Albert Einstein's quotation "You cannot both prevent and prepare for war" which I have amended to read "to prevent war is to prepare for the inevitability of war"; and so it is with disease, to attempt to prevent disease is to prepare for its inevitable appearance. This is amply demonstrated by the history of vaccination, the use of preventative antibiotics etc., etc.
There are what I call the four cardinal signs, the presence or absence of which will determine whether or not, when we experience these symptoms of detoxification, whether or not we should consider the possibility of availing ourselves of techno-medicine. The cardinal signs are:
If, when we are experiencing our 'discharge' symptoms, these four are generally positive, in that we have a good appetite, we do not feel sick, our level of vitality is okay, and we sleep well on retiring at night - yes, it is quite normal during the healing process to have a fever of 104°F, while bringing up copious amounts of mucus, and not feel sick while enjoying a hearty appetite, while our vitality is strong enough to carry out our daily work etc., and sleep soundly when retiring. This has occurred in my life several times since starting my macrobiotic practice. These four signs being positive while we are going through a healing episode indicates we are in sound shape and we will rejoice and be grateful when we experience them, because we know they signify our body is healing itself. I must repeat myself many times in regard of these symptoms of what has been widely regarded by humanity for hundreds of years as symptoms indicating something is wrong with us as indicating quite the opposite, because it is one example of the many received prejudices ingrained in us by our cultural upbringing of which we have to purge ourselves if we are to have any hope of restoring sanity to world destiny.
Before we consider the possibility of going to the doctor while experiencing the symptoms of detoxification, I feel all four have to be negative; that is, we have no appetite, we feel sick, we have no vitality and we cannot sleep properly. There can be many explanations of why any three of the four may be negative, and yet we are not in any real danger. In any case, anyone thinking of starting a macrobiotic practice is strongly encouraged to seek out people who have several years of macrobiotic practice, so if we are unsure of what is happening to us, we can ask them.
All I have dealt with thus far happens unconsciously, in that the body knows how to heal itself, and once we begin our macrobiotic practice the process of healing happens 'mechanically', meaning the unconscious spiritual processes occur which lead to the manifestation of the symptoms of detoxification of the body. This is the mechanical stage of the healing process.
The next stage of the healing process also occurs unconsciously, in that there is the gradual improvement in the sensitivity and acuity of the senses - taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell. According to the Five Transformation Theory the five senses are linked to the condition of the internal organs, with the kidneys ruling the sense of hearing, the lungs the sense of smell, the liver the condition of the eyes, the stomach the sense of taste, and the heart the sense of touch. Thus, as these organs undergo their healing, the senses correlated with them also heal. Our sense of direction, orientation in space and time improve and we become more aware of, sensitive to and interested in events and phenomena happening around us, becoming more attuned to and in harmony with the weather, the seasons, the rhythms of the moon and so forth. Our thinking processes become clearer, more dynamic and clearer. This is the sensory stage of the healing process.
The next stage is the emotional stage which occurs both consciously and unconsciously, in that in addition to physical symptoms of detoxification of the body healing itself are are included emotional symptoms. These I have have already discussed at length in the chapter on the ginger compress. These emotional discharges are usually episodic and short-lived, receding in intensity and extent as the healing of the relevant organs proceed.
Now, it must not be assumed that once we have healthy organs that we will never feel anger, sorrow, frustration, fear etc., again. These are spiritual realities which affect our soul life and in addition, there are many events and deeds being done in the world today which are justifiable sources of sorrow, anger, and worry. I do not need to spell these out since you can read about them every day in the newspaper. The question is how do we respond to the anger we feel, or the sadness, or the worry and anxiety we may have about the state of the world? What we need to learn to do is to both acknowledge our emotions and at the same time not to give vent to them, because if we do, then these emotions control us; rather it is to learn to control these emotions so that we channel the vitality they contain into positive, constructive activities.
If we face the realities of the sickness of our culture as manifested in the symptoms of gang violence, the so-called 'war on drugs', social divisiveness as manifested in racism, the militia movement etc., etc., despoliation of the forests, the pollution of the soil and water, acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer, etc., etc. ad nauseam, we cannot but be angry, sad, worried and anxious about the future. However, the way most people respond is to be indifferent to these problems, to cynically say to themselves this is the way things are and there is nothing I can do about it, to blame it all on someone else, or to protest in ways which run the gamut from outright terroristic activities to marching and rallying and asking the government to enact this and that legislation. However, none of these are going to make one bit of difference to the problems confronting humanity unless and until each and everyone of us realizes we individually bear the burden of responsibility for all these problems, and we turn to the real task at hand, which is to transform ourselves from the sick, diseased human beings we are to healthy, creative, moral and productive human beings. The first crucial step in beginning to heal ourselves is to change our way of eating to one based on eating cooked whole grains and vegetables in season.
One emotion which needs further comment is fear. There can be no doubt fear is endemic in modern culture, and it is not exaggerating to say it really is a fundamental driving force for just about everything people do today. People act basically out of fear. The reasons for fear are many and varied and it lies outside the scope of this page to discuss fear in detail, for it take another book to do justice to the subject.
Briefly, we are fearful because we are insecure and we do not know what we are; and since we are so mesmerized by materialistic thinking, we act on our fear and insecurities by seeking to protect ourselves with a wide variety of vapid walls of security, like degrees, job security, life-long tenure, pension funds, home ownership, social security, health insurance, and so forth. Everyone is enslaved to the delusion that these offer security, whereas they do nothing of the sort.
The truth of the matter is there is no 'safety net' yet devised by humanity that can provide any degree of security. There is only one true 'safety net' and that is to restore our balance and harmony with the great rhythms of nature (physical comfort) and also with the spiritual cosmos. This means we must undertake the arduous task of knowing ourselves and our place in creation. To the degree and extent we are out-of-balance, dis-eased with respect to nature and the cosmos, to the same degree and extent are we fearful and insecure.
So, looking at today's dietary habits in terms of yin and yang, a dietary intake which has no center, because few if any of the foods in the 'area of balance' are being eaten, necessarily means we are being swung violently from one pole of extreme yin to the other pole of extreme yang on a daily basis. Thus, with no dietary center, we are literally being tossed back and forth on this wildly oscillating pendulum on a daily basis, and we busily run around frantically trying to shore up our centerless existence with religion, money, sex, alcohol and drugs, power, force, insurance policies, status, investment strategies etc., etc., ad nauseam, when in fact all these do is increase our insecurity because there is nothing there to fill up the emptiness of our rudderless, centerless lives, and we become addicted to these diversions.
If we wish to replace fear and insecurity with confidence and consummate equanimity as we face what the future holds in store for us, we need to place ourselves on firm foundations, both physically and spiritually.