Thousands of years old Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) holistic lifestyle recommendations can help us enhance wellbeing, regain youth and longevity.
For TCM, food and medicine are the same things. We should eat simple and light foods, personalized for us without excessive tastes, mostly made of a variety of grains and vegetables. Chinese medicine pays great attention to draining dampness from our food. To put it simply, dampness refers to water retention in the body and a by-product of food that can stop the circulation of vital energy in the body. Damp products are milk products (except yogurt), sugar and sweets, white-wheat flour, excess raw fruits (sugar), cold beverages, large portions of food, fatty, greasy and deep-fried food. As a result, you may get too much mucus in the sinuses or lungs, constipation, swollen joints, and excess body fat. Eliminating dairy and raw foods can promote great digestion, optimum metabolism and activate body regeneration.
Avoid eating when you’re stressed. Researches show that eating in a relaxed mood helps digestion and assimilation because your body naturally releases feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and opiates when you eat stress-free, which decreases stress hormone (cortisol) levels.
It is important to eat at fixed times and to control the amount of food that you eat. The general rule is eating neither too much nor too little. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like an emperor, and dinner like a beggar. Stop eating when it tastes best! Drink only small amounts of liquids during meals; too much liquid with meals, or right before and right after a meal can slow down digestion.
We should have three meals a day, with an interval of five hours between each meal, because it takes at least four or five hours to digest the food that you eat at each meal. Eating less food results in longevity, because constant excessive intake of food overburdens the stomach and intestines, resulting in food intoxication.
After finishing meal, go for a short 5 minutes slow-pace walk to aid digestion. Tea contains tannin, which when combined with the proteins in food synthesizes albutannin. Evidence shows that albutannin may make food hard to digest, cause a contraction of the membrane in the digestive canal, affect the appetite, or even lead to constipation. The suitable time for drinking tea is during breaks in the day when one is taking a rest rather than just before or after a meal.
Mental state, emotions and health
Besides food, TCM pays great attention to the close relationship between mental activities and health. Our health reaches ideal capacity only when the body and spirit are integrated. TCM believes that our health is composed of the essence (Chin. Jin精), vital energy ( Chin. Qi 气), and spirit (Chin. Shen 神). Essence is responsible for both the essential immaterial (soul) and essential physical being (body) of a person. Vital energy regulates all organic systems to function well. Spirit is responsible for regulating emotions. It enters a rested state while sleeping. TCM states that the cultivation of these three basic materials is the condition to achieve long and healthy life.
It is of utmost importance to keep a sound mind. Especially in the case of prevention of diseases and promoting longevity. The ideal mental state is the foundation stone against any disease. TCM theory teaches if the emotions we experience are plentiful (in excess), vital energy and blood will be obstructed developing into physical pathological changes. Chinese medicine believes that obstruction of vital energy (Qi) leads to diseases. Anger moves up the Qi and harms the liver, overjoy makes Qi weak and disturbs the heart, grief disperses the Qi and injures the functions of the lungs, fear declines vital energy's movement and injures kidneys. while anxiety stops Qi's movement and injures the spleen.
Chinese medicine states that if we're open-minded, our life energy will move flawlessly. Such a state leads to an optimistic, and stable mood, resulting in improved health.
Chinese philosopher GuanZi (Chin. 管仲645 BCE) says to keep the optimal state of health, is essentially happy and tranquil mood, which requires a noble spirit, high ideals, to have a representative outlook, and an open and broad mind.
Our rational decisions depend on our state of spirit and happy mood. Try to live life in the present moment without worrying about the past or future. If you chose to think about past or future problems, it can only distract your mind and soul.
Everlasting happiness can be achieved only through contentment. As a matter of fact, most anxieties and worries happen from many temptations such as pursuing a career, higher status, or material comfort. If we have to wish to get more comfort, we should remind ourselves about poverty in the world.
Life optimism maintains health, and it is directly connected to our sense of morality. Modesty in life is the key principle required to be content, tolerant and kind. Such qualities cultivate vital energy.
It is a very important thing not to develop pride and prejudice because they are tools made to enslave our freedom. Looking at small children and understanding their non-corrupted souls is the model to follow. Our function is permanently to develop our talents. In order to further advance ourselves, we should keep a variety of interests. It can include hobbies, promotions of skills, knowledge, and arts.
Reduction of desires
Nowadays most people are egocentric and selfish. Such qualities are even encouraged for pursuing a career. However, Chinese medicine with generations-long experiences, states that perfect health lies in the reduction of desires. Selfishness and desires are opposites sides of the same coin; when they become extreme, our spirit and vital energy become imbalanced resulting in a state without peace and harmony.
Founder of Daoism - Lao Zi (Chin. 老子), teaches that recipe for healthy life includes clear mind and reduction of desire, simple and plain life without selfishness and desire.
When we finally reach the realization what is our mindset, our satisfaction, and how to reduce inappropriate thoughts, naturally our minds become tranquil. According to Chinese medicine important step in achieving happy and long life lies in the correction of our attitude toward our personal gains and losses.
If we eliminate excessive desires and negative emotions; such as jealousy, we may achieve a state of peace and happiness. Key to our balance leads to our detachment from the material, spiritual or emotional world. It means when we aren’t attached to something we may objectively and rationally explain, we may finally set our life goals, and understand our life role. However, in case we fail to follow previous steps, our mind we’ll be full of anxiety.
In order to set free ourselves, it is recommended by ancient Chinese to avoid excessive visual and audio stimulation to our eyes and ears, and keep desired objects out of sight.
We shouldn’t listen or talk about anything improper, or have unhealthy desires. To be able to control ourselves we should develop a healthy conscience, the idea of our safety personal zone, and the ability to correct acquired and developed errors.
Life is a journey where we learn to regard the events in life calmly and to observe any matter in an objective and rational way.
“King of medicine” doctor Sun Simiao, 581 AD - 682 AD (Chin. 孙思邈) gives the following advice: "I say little while others talk a lot. I remain tranquil while others get entangled in affairs. I keep my temper while others lose it. I refrain from feeling troubled by staying away from improper affairs, and I do not follow vulgar custom, so as to reach the state of empty-mindedness.”
Everybody can choose to worry about something. However, excessive worry may cause anxiety, which will hurt the spirit and make the heart agitated. The more we have worries, our spirits will become weaker, just as the more, the fire burns, the less oil there is to fuel it. The body produces a huge amount of energy when we worry excessively and eventually will become extremely exhausted.
It is believed that through exposure to fear and shock, an embryo can contract a disease. Qi Bo (Chin. 岐伯) one of the legendary founders of Chinese medicine, explained that such a disease is called embryopathy. The embryo can contract this disease when the mother experiences great fright and stress.
It is difficult to avoid anxiety and grief during a lifetime, but we can learn how to subdue them. Firstly we must cultivate the open-mind state, and refrain from attachment to material gains. In return, this can keep us from grieving over a personal loss when it happens.
Social interactions we establish during our lifetime can be a burden or a gift. It is a very important part of our personal life cultivation. Good friends are very important. A great friendship can heal old emotional wounds, replace life regrets and hatreds, and receive help, consolation, and encouragement.
Honest friendship can be a great tool in eliminating grief and anxiety. Especially if our contact is a great social model, we can follow their lifestyle habits and understanding, acquiring benefits in many areas. Wrong friendship besides being toxic, can cause anxiety, anger, and attachment, but also can be useful as a learning tool to reach a better emotional state in the future.
Most people are in a non-perfect, unhappy state of existence. The usual protracted sign of great imbalance is our judgment. When we’re still attached to many things, we judge. We mostly believe that we’re observant toward life situations, that we’re intellectual, and that we can comprehend small details about people. As we’re conditioned by many situations and our changeable emotions, our judgment mostly isn’t correct. Judgment is tremendously important to see as a process of changes we have already undergone. Therefore, old Chinese teaches to abstain from judgment or to keep a strong position about anything. As we learn during our lifetime, our point of understanding changes as well. As we are aging, in time we gain wisdom and life knowledge.
We exist as a unity of the physical, mental, and emotional state of life. When one or more are out of balance we show signs of excess or deficiency. One sign of imbalances is judgment.