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Ahhhh the Balancing Act of Life
By: David Graber, OTS

 
 
 

It may be very obvious to some that in order to achieve a state a health, wellness and happiness many aspects of one’s life have to be in balance. Many people in our society have heard words of wisdom like this in the past, but at the same time they may not really know how it should apply to their lives.

In recent years, I myself have found many great schools of thought that point to the importance of balance and how it plays a major role in one’s health and well being. I guess one could say philosophies of balance like macrobiotics have helped me balance my curiosities and desire to help other people. OK, I’ll try to cut down a little on using the word balance as much as I can, I promise.

As a current graduate student of occupational therapy at Indiana University, one of the major preventative health interventions we have studied is helping individuals balance their occupations in life. The philosophy suggests that when working with individuals to help them perform occupations in life the occupational therapist should also address the person’s ability to perform desired leisure activities as well as social activities in addition to their desired work activities and self care tasks.

By doing so, the occupational therapist is enabling the person to achieve a much more rewarding, healthy and yes balanced life regardless of their disability or limitation.

I believe macrobiotic teachings point to nature’s balance and how eating a diet that’s in balance with our biological design leads to optimal health. Just like the wolf’s design of sharp teeth, fast legs and a short digestive system enables them to eat the raw meat of large animals; our design appears to enable us to eat whole grains, vegetables, beans, nuts, fruits as well as some small animals and fish.

Recently in my pathopysiology class, I heard a medical doctor talk about how an imbalance between a person’s HDL and LDL cholesterol is the main cause of cardiovascular disease. If you didn’t already know, LDLs are the bad cholesterol that comes from animal foods and HDLs are the good cholesterols that can come from exercise, plant lipids and fish.

Just as important, eating what our local environment can produce seems to also be very important for an individual’s health. Eating large amounts of tropical products like coffee and sugar everyday may set us up to function pretty well down near the equator but possibly not so hot up North.

In addition, eating large amounts of red meat everyday while living an inactive lifestyle seems like it would be a pretty unlikely scenario throughout the history of our species. I believe the food we eat and the substances we put in our body become us and the characteristics of local food helps us balance with the characteristics of the local environment.

Being a student of science, I have often looked for correlations between the yin/yang philosophy of macrobiotics and the research of western medicine and often science just gives me more motivation to live a macrobiotic, natural lifestyle.

Science has shown that more developed countries when compared to “third world countries” tend to show a dramatic increase in a large variety of diseases (or what I like to call imbalances) that are thought to be influenced by lifestyle. The alarming occurrence of what is labeled as late onset diseases like obesity, type II diabetes, cancer, and heart disease continues to rise the more developed countries get.

With the addition of all the success stories I have read about macrobiotics as well as the diet’s ability to keep me free of allergies, acid reflex and sinus infections; I now stand as a firm believer in the macrobiotic lifestyle and hope to help educate others about its benefits.

A new and interesting example of the benefits of living naturally can be seen by looking at the development and growing popularity of a shoe that uses a design that stimulates barefoot walking.

The owners of this fairly new shoe product claim to have gotten their idea from observing African tribes who occupied much of their time by walking on unleveled natural surfaces while barefoot. In comparison to those who live in modern societies, they noticed that this tribe experienced very rare occurrences of back pain or lower joint pains.

So upon further study they concluded that the natural stimulation provided by walking barefoot on natural surfaces leads to the natural balance that our muscles and joints need to function properly. Consequently, people in modern countries are trying these shoes out any many have reported relief from their pains and dysfunction.

Similar ideas of muscle balance can be achieved through the practice of yoga and the participation in a variety of stimulating activities and occupations. A great book labeled Pain Free by Pete Egoscue ( Available from amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com) describes these ideas of muscle balance in great detail as well as provides exercises that actually return the bodies natural muscle balance and relieves pain.

As important as living natural is, I have also learned to respect the power of the mind and spirit just as much. Living with a strong sense of love and peace for all undoubtedly affects a person’s well being.

Being able to do what interests and attracts you, enables one to live a rich life full of happiness, well being and satisfaction. Just like macrobiotics teaches, you really cannot separate the mind/body and spirit. Every positive thought has a physiological effect on our body, which can lead to a life of well being and yes of course balance.

As a therapist, I hope to guide people to better health using these foundational principles of macrobiotics as well as all the foundational principals of my future profession of occupational therapy. After my independent studies in health and wellness, I feel like there needs to be a shift in the way we think about our bodies, minds, environment and health.

However, I intend to stay compassionate and positive to all because I know the power of love is capable of healing the body, mind and spirit. Sooooooooo, if you want to stay intact, you should realize life is one big balancing act!!


David Grabe
has been studying macrobiotic's for about two years and also holistic healthcare and prevention for about four. He is also currently an occupational therapy student and hopes that one day to guide other's to better health through a variety of ways that can all be related to just living more naturally. Being in the western medical world he said he often finds himself relating different illnesses and "diseases" to imbalances of yin and yang, but the hardest thing about it is sometimes he feels he could help them better if only they were willing to learn macrobiotics.

 

 

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