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Home > Newsletters > August 2003

Secrets of Happy Longevity

By Dr. Maoshing Ni and Carrie Tanenbaum

In our modern age, as scientific technology advances, the prospect of us being kept alive longer is greater than ever. However, is our quality of life necessarily improving as a result? Are we healthier, vital and happier? What about our spiritual condition? These and other questions beg the redefining of the concept of longevity.

Longevity, as defined in the west, means merely the quantity or long duration of life. It doesn't consider the quality of a long life lived. On the contrary, longevity or "Chang Shou" in China is used with reverence for someone who enjoyed the blessing of living a long time and having a quality of life. Can you achieve quantity of life and still maintain youthful vigor, be fulfilled and happy and remain emotionally balanced and advance spiritually throughout your long existence? Our answer is a definite YES! And we are prepared to show you how to achieve it.

Regenerative Nutrition

From Dr. Mao's interviews and studies of the diets and lifestyles of over one hundred subjects in China that were centenarians, the three foods most commonly consumed are listed below. These and many other foods, along with cooking techniques and constitutional considerations will support the recovery of any chronic, degenerative diseases.

  • Yam or Sweet Potato
  • Corn
  • Peanut

Not surprisingly, all three foods are rich in fiber, anti-cancer agents, with peanuts rich in protein and fatty acids, and are good sources of energy.

TIP: Raw or roasted peanuts or nut butters are hard to digest and can be fatty. The best way to access the nutrients in peanuts is to steam or cook it in soups which is also quite delicious.

Herbs (Immortal Foods)

In the recorded history of China, the Taoist Masters were the longest living people, often exceeding one hundred years of age without showing the usual signs of aging. It is no wonder that they were consultants to many royal families through the ages. A special group of herbs have played an important part in supporting the long and vigorous lives of these Taoist. They were called "Immortal Foods" and three herbs appear frequently in secret formulas for longevity. They are listed below. These are but a part of a secret collection of special formulas.

  • Lily bulbs
  • Peach kernel
  • Lotus seed

These herbs improve circulation, stimulate endocrine and immune functions, promote detoxification and are full of anti-oxidants.

TIP: They make wonderful additions to any cooked cereal.

Energy Enhancement Exercises (Qigong)

Exercise or practices to enhance energy or Qi have been done by the Taoist Masters throughout the ages. They have been proven to be effective in stimulating the natural healing response within our bodies and help to combat stress. The following is a simple Qigong practice that are but one of many exclusive methods we will teach for health and healing.

Sit comfortably with your feet shoulder-width apart and breath deeply and slowly. Visualize a part of your body warming up each time you inhale. Start from the bottom of your feet and slowly work your way up to the top of your head. Then work your way down to your abdomen. You will feel awake and energized.

TIP: When convenient, put your feet in a warm foot bath while doing this particular exercise. It will help facilitate energy flow.

Check out Taoist Eight Treasures for more information.
By Dr. Maoshing Ni, L.Ac., Ph.D., D.O.M.

Thirty-two gentle, non-impact exercises unique to the Ni family facilitate energy flow and strengthen Vitality. Combining stretching, toning and strengthening movements, the exercises are named for various aspects of nature such as "Great Birds Spreads its Wings" and "The Weeping Willow Shivers in the Early Morning Breeze". Fascinating viewing.

Meditation

The value of meditation as many people know, is to quiet the mind, reduce stress and induce clarity. Below is a beginning meditation.

Sit comfortably on a chair or the floor with a firm cushion. Breathe naturally and close your eyes. Each time a thought appears, put it inside a balloon and let it fly up into the sky and disappear. Do this until the thoughts are exhausted. (The first few times it may take a while, but it will get easier and faster with practice.) At this point, your body will feel very light. Your mind will become still and answers to your problems will often suddenly appear.

TIP: Keep your spine, including your neck, as straight as possible by sitting on the edge of the chair or the cushion. This will ensure correct posture and encourage energy flow.

Self Healing Massage

Simple yet effective self-healing techniques can be incorporated into your lifestyle to give many years of benefit. Below are two of the many massage methods within the Integral Living System.

  • The kidney meridian traverses the inside of our ankles (medially). You can massage the area around the ankles to strengthen and circulate energy in the kidney/adrenal system. The kidney meridian is responsible for urinary function, reproduction, endocrine function, and overall strength of the body.
  • The spleen meridian runs along the medial sides of the lower legs in the depression between the posterior margin of the tibia and the calf muscle. You can massage this part of the spleen meridian to strengthen digestion, resolve phlegm conditions, circulate chi and blood, regulate hormones and strengthen the immune system

TIP: Warm up your hands first by rubbing them together. This will improve results of your massage.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture was developed thousands of years ago by spiritually developed people, the Taoists, in order to restore and maintain health. Taoist philosophy views a person as an energy system wherein body and mind are unified, each influencing and balancing the other. The ancient Taoists believed that there is a universal life energy called "qi" present in every living creature. This energy circulates throughout the body along specific pathways called meridians or energy channels. The Taoists felt that if this qi or life-force continued to flow freely throughout the body, health and longevity would ensue. Chinese medicine uses acupuncture to stimulate certain points on the meridians in order to unblock the qi energy.

Acupuncture restores balance to the body. When there is an obstruction of chi the result is that some systems of the body may not have enough energy to function properly. Acupuncture promotes qi flow and stimulates our natural healing mechanisms. Regular acupuncture treatments improve the function of all the organs of the body, promote blood circulation, reduce inflammation, regulate hormones, relax the body and calm the mind, thus contributing directly to a long and healthy life.

TIP: While receiving your acupuncture treatment, curl your tongue so that the bottom of your tongue comes into contact with the roof of your mouth. This will enhance your energy flow.

Acupressure

Acupressure utilizes the same principles and points as acupuncture, but strong finger pressure rather than needles is used to effect stimulation and unblock qi. Acupressure can be used as a self treatment at home and is a perfect healing tool for small children. Below are two common acupressure points you can use at home.

  • Zusanli ("Three measures on the leg"), which is found at four fingers below the lateral "eye" of the knee, approximately one finger width lateral to the tibia. Zusanli strengthens the digestion, regulates the qi and blood, and strengthens the immune system.
  • Neiguan ("Inner Gate"), which is found with the hand supine, three fingers from the wrist crease, between the two tendons, calms the heart and spirit, lowers blood pressure, reduces insomnia, resolves nausea, and suppresses pain.

TIP: You'll know you have the right location when you feel distinct soreness with gentle pressure at the point.

Stress Management

In recent years, the role that stress plays in the development of disease has increased. Stress may contribute directly to the production of disease or it may contribute to the development of behaviors such as smoking, overeating, and drug abuse, which increase the risk of disease. The factors that produce stress may be physical or psychological or a combination of both. The factors that produce psychological stress vary greatly from person to person. Thus, a situation that is stressful to one may not affect another, and what is stressful at one time may not be at another time. Regardless of its cause, the body's response to stress is directed toward maintaining equilibrium, or balance.

During a stressful time the body produces an increased amount of cortisol (cortisol supplies cells with extra energy that may be needed during times of stress.) For reasons that are not clear, this reaction may be accompanied by a decrease in the activities of the lymphatic organs, which include the thymus, lymph nodes, and spleen. At the same time, the number of lymphocytes in the blood tends to decrease. Since these white blood cells defend the body against infection, a person who is under stress may have a lowered resistance to disease.

According to Chinese medicine, stress causes a depletion of our qi, or energy. Increased demand of energy during stressful times can cause fatigue of our organs, especially the spleen and kidney/adrenal systems. In addition, stress may cause a blockage of the flow of energy in our bodies. When energy, or qi flows freely throughout our bodies, health is maintained, but once the energy becomes blocked, the system is disrupted and pain and illness occur.

Although it is not possible to prevent stress completely, there are some things we can do to reduce it. You can also learn some tools that will help you to react to a stressful situation in a more constructive and healthy manner. We have outlined below some of the steps you can take to reduce the stress in your life.

  • Slow down
  • Be in the present
  • Learn to say no
  • Deep breathing

TIP: Regular practice of meditation, qigong or taiji can help you slow down.

Environment

Creating a conducive environment for health and wellness in our living and working space is crucial to achieving longevity. The energy in our homes can refresh and heal us. Feng Shui is the ancient art of creating a healthy environment. Our chi is influenced by the energy around us. When we are surrounded by "evil qi" or negative energy our health suffers, but when we are surrounded by supportive, positive energy our chi remains strong and our health flourishes. Some of the elements of a nurturing environment include:

  • Natural light
  • Bring nature indoors
  • Turn down the volume
  • Create a peaceful corner

TIP: When buying any appliances, check the noise and pollution rating before you buy. Have plants inside the house but not in your bedroom as plants give off carbon dioxide at night.

Dr. Maoshing Ni, a Licensed Acupuncturist and a Diplomat of Chinese Herbology, is currently in general practice at the Tao of Wellness Clinic in Santa Monica, California. Carrie Tanenbaum is formerly of associated with the Clinic as well. The Tao of Wellness Clinic is one of the oldest in Los Angeles, established in 1976. (310) 917-2200

 

This Month's Articles

August 2003
Volume 1, Number 7

Secrets of Happy Longevity

Book Review: Ear Acupuncture Handy Reference For French Method

Cool Off with Delicious Summer Meals

Recent Research

Ask The Doctor

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