in 1982, while living in South Florida, I had
been strictly following a natural hygiene diet
of raw fruits and vegetables for 2 years. Once
a week I would indulge in a baked potato. It didn't
matter that I was always hungry or even that my
skin had an orange hue (from the copious amounts
of carrots and red peppers I was constantly eating).
I was thrilled. For finally I had something to
hold onto - a disciplined way of eating that could
control a problem that tormented me throughout
my 34 years - overweight (and the unhappiness
I secretly endured). Then, one fateful day, I
relented and allowed my sister, Harriet, to prepare
a macrobiotic meal of brown rice and miso soup.
'Oh my God! This is the taste I've been looking
for all my life!' I exclaimed. This seemingly
simple food was speaking volumes to me. I instinctively
knew this was not merely wonderful tasting food,
but something much deeper. At that very moment,
Eager to know more, I read books and began taking
macro-cooking lessons. I recognized the near reverence
in the way the foods were prepared - that the
energy of the cook directly effects the food -
as well as the order in which they were eaten.
Every action was significant.. What I had scrupulously
read in the books was coming to life here in the
kitchen and gathering momentum from within. I
could not deny that this experience had touched
my soul and I loved it more than I could say.
Unknowingly, I was beginning to awaken.
During a cooking lesson, a vibrant woman with
long auburn hair pulled tightly back in a bun,
entered the room. This was Mona. She had started
the Macrobiotic Center in Florida years before.
She spoke of a Kushi Macrobiotic Summer Camp happening
that June in the Pocono Mts. My sister and I would
the next 6 months, I was happily cooking away,
preparing recipes on seaweeds, grains, vegetables
and legumes for my grateful friends. My life was
changing. As June approached, I felt an urgency
that provoked me to let go of my material things.
I discarded my closet into a shopping cart, sold
my furniture, kicked out my boyfriend and left
Florida with only a suitcase. When asked what
I was doing, I replied, "I'm going to the
Poconos and from there, I don't know."
sister picked me up at the airport in Boston and
we proceeded to Open Sesame, the macro restaurant.
It was 5:00 pm, just opening for the day. There
were only 3 people in the restaurant - Mona and
2 other women. I was fascinated by them, and one
in particular: She was beautiful, slender and
dressed in elegant simplicity. Her dark hair was
pulled tightly back into a long braid and she
had a diamond in nose. (Such jewelry was unheard
of in those days).
her confidence and sense of composure. Her look
was beyond wise. "Who are those women with
Mona?", I asked. "Oh, they're her friends
from Hong Kong", Harriet replied. They acknowledged
us with a nod. After dinner, we approached them.
Harriet sniffed the air and asked the woman with
the diamond in her nose, "What's that smell?".
"Perfume", the woman replied curtly
in her German/British accent. Her answer was effectively
succinct and correct. Harriet backed off. This
woman was powerful. My only thought was, "I
have so far to go". It had never occurred
to me before this, that I had anywhere to go.
This woman was a mirror of my own refection.
we arrived at the summer camp the next day, we
decided to forego any classes and head straight
for the kitchen to offer our services. On our
way, we passed a remarkable sight. Now, we had
come to this camp especially to eat the food and
learn the cooking techniques. However, here, sitting
on a freshly pressed white cotton tablecloth,
were a group of well dressed men, women and 2
children eating not the camp food, but their own
food! They looked like a vision, far removed from
the other camp participants clad in jeans, cutoffs
and t-shirts. In the middle of this group, was
the woman with the diamond in her nose. My heart
skipped a beat.
the kitchen, I was teamed up with a handsome young
man who was cleaning the rice. He was carefully
washing the rice between his hands. This impressed
me. He spoke with an arrogance about the poor
quality of water and food being served at the
camp and about his travels to far off places such
as Katmandu. I was intrigued with this Austrian
man's knowledge and understanding of macrobiotics
that went deeper than what I had learned. I asked
if there was anything else happening that summer
there was a Temple Training beginning in July
for 2 months in the mountains of Japan. It was
led by his teacher, a Taoist Priestess and macrobiotic
leader. "If you go, it would be the most
difficult thing you would ever do, but also the
greatest experience in your life", he told
me. I had to go. However, I would have to ask
permission from his teacher. And she was there
- a woman with a diamond in her nose. Her name
was Mayli. I stopped breathing. I now had a reason
to speak with this woman.
that day during a walk, I saw Mayli approaching.
"Hello, my name is Jan London. If you have
a moment, I would like to speak with you",
I asked. "Of course. Please meet me over
there, by that tree, at 2:00 tomorrow," Mayli
replied with a smile.
2:00 the next day, I waited joyfully at the tree
accompanied by my sister. When 2:30 approached,
Harriet remarked that that woman was now rude
and I would be a fool to wait. "I have nothing
better to do for the rest of my life. I'll wait
forever if I have to," I replied. Harriet
left in a huff.
At 3:00 Mayli arrived full of apologies for her
delay. Her rented car had a flat tire. Would I
please forgive her? Of course. I asked her if
I could join her Temple Training next month. Mayli
asked, "How long have you been Macrobiotic?"
"6 months", I answered. "Oh, I'm
sorry, but that's not long enough. The training
would be too strong for you," Mayli said.
At this point, I was on the ground, begging her.
"But I've been hygienic for 2 years. Really,
I'm quite clean. Please can I go?" Mayli
looked at me with compassion and with a slight
smile. "Yes, Jan. You can come. Contact the
2 other American women who will be attending and
you can arrange to go together."
Do you think I was happy? I hadn't a clue what
I was about to embark on, but I knew this was
it was true. It was my most profound and edifying
experience. Through the strong, clear food and
Taoist exercises I began to eliminate toxins from
my body. While through the ineffable teachings,
any illusions I had had about myself and the way
I viewed life began to shatter. I was told that
what I was experiencing would become more apparent
as it's meaning amplifies and begins to resonate
through my life.
a physical level, the color of my eyes, which
had always been brown, changed to hazel green.
This was their normal, healthy color, indicating
that had I not changed my diet and my way of thinking,
I would have developed serious health issues.
deeper level, I began to blossom. And, as this flower,
I continue to unfold.
I remained Mayli's student for the next 13 years
in the Far East and in Europe and remain forever