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