In our modern age, as medical science advances, the prospect of you being kept alive longer is greater than ever. However, is your quality of life necessarily improving as a result? Are you healthier, vital and happier? What about your spiritual condition? These and other questions stimulate how we define what longevity means.
Longevity, as has been defined means merely the quantity or duration of life. It doesn’t consider the quality of a long-life lived. On the other hand, in the Chinese culture longevity or “Chang Shou” encompasses achieving advanced years and still maintaining active lifestyle with youthful vigor, joyful outlook, and practical wisdom.
Longevity has been the subject of our continuous research at Tao of Wellness. It began in 1985 with my initial interviews of a handful of centenarians in China. Twenty years and over 100 centenarian-interviews later, it culminated in the publication of my bestselling Secrets of Longevity book. It contains over 300 simple ways to promote health, wellness, and long life.
In this natural system of living, we call it-Integral Living, you will learn about the Four Pillars of Integral Living, the foundation to wellness and longevity. It will address all aspects of your life including your mind, body, and spirit. You will be taught simple and yet accurate self-diagnosis to detect early warnings of imbalance so that you can take measures to improve your health immediately. You will learn proprietary energy enhancement exercises to restore your vigor, advanced meditations for transforming stress into intuition, purification practices to rid of all your negativity, techniques for self-healing, regenerative nutrition, including food preparation and the use of special herbs to sharpen your mind and body, and practices for transforming sexual energy into vitality, and finally, we will show you how to gain wisdom and spiritual fulfillment that makes longevity enjoyable!
This system is the culmination of several thousands of years of research by the Chinese Taoists, many generations of Ni family physicians, as well as the practitioners at Tao of Wellness. At present, this system will only be available for the benefit of our patients at Tao of Wellness.
In the following articles, we will provide you with some practical guidance and some samplings from our Retreat for enhancing your longevity and increasing your health and vitality.
From my 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 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 (Qi Gong)
Exercise or practices to enhance energy have been taught by the Taoist physicians of China 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 Qi Gong practice that are but one of many exclusive methods we 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.
The value of meditation as many people know, is to quiet the mind, reduce stress, and induce clarity. Meditations from the Integral Living System offer several levels of benefit, all of which are easy to master. Below is a beginning meditation.
Sit comfortably on a chair or the floor with a firm cushion. Breath 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 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 “chi” 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 chi 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 chi 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 chi 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 chi. 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 1 finger width lateral to the tibia. Zusanli strengthens the digestion, regulates the chi 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.
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 chi, 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 chi 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, chi gong or tai chi 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 chi” 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. Mao Shing Ni, also known as Dr. Mao, is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, a Wellness Medicine group that won the “L.A.’s Best” Award. Tao of Wellness was founded by Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni over 25 years ago. In addition, he is the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey. To subscribe to a free newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected]