Friday, February 22, 2013

macro-inspired mindfulness

Ok, so before I say anything else beyond the title of this blog post, let me just say that I am not following the macrobiotic diet by any stretch of the imagination. Um, hello caffeine! Bread! Sugar! Spicy food! (all of which are generally not prescribed in a macro diet)

That said... there's something inspiring about the macrobiotic diet lifestyle. I say "lifestyle", because I learned that there's SO much more to it than what you put on your plate. It's not simply about the ubiquitous "macrobiotic bowls" that you might see in vegetarian restaurants; you know, the brown rice, vegetables, sea vegetables, sesame seeds combination.  You might even hear more exotic-sounding ingredients like umeboshi plum and burdock.

Rather, it's an approach, a process, a way of thinking and sensing, of being in harmony with the seasons. Balancing yin and yang. Let me also say that this is my oversimplified description - it's a very, very, old philosophy that people study for years - and so I will not even claim to know the tip of the iceberg. And most macro folks (I think) seem to follow it as close to 100% as possible. My sweet friend Debra-Lynn writes about her macrobiotic healing journey and recipes on her facebook page, Going Macro. She even makes macrobiotic veggie burgers. Yum!

She and I had a recent conversation about spirituality in relation to food. But that will be for another blog post.

At any rate... a huge part of the macro lifestyle is the approach to eating - to really pause while you eat, engage the senses, and - gasp! - chew your food until nearly liquid (because digestion starts in the mouth). How's that for mindfulness?

Ok, that part stopped me in my tracks.

Does anyone do that? Chew food till nearly liquid? Do you? If so, I'd love to know how you do it.

Clockwise from top left: the scene that greeted us in the morning on our trip to Boracay (a small island in the Philippines). Breakfast meant tea and a HUGE plate of the world's best mangoes and papaya (biased much?). And, a rare occurrence on this blog - an actual photo of me, thanks to this friend. I was chewing on the center, stony part of the mango. I had one side, my friend the other - as we say in  our language, "hating kapatid" (sharing between siblings). I definitely savored every last bit. 


Sure, I get the part about pausing. I get slowing down and engaging the senses; I do try my best to practice all that as I chop vegetables, stir ingredients in a pot, watch and wait as the heat gently transforms the food, and then sit down to eat. But there are times when I do just scarf down my food, standing beside the kitchen counter. Tell me I'm not the only one?

(crickets)

Part of it, I think (or as I understand), is learning to be in tune with your body and what it needs to be nourished and healed.

I think it's why I favor certain foods while I'm sick. For me, that's miso soup, homemade ginger-honey-lemon "tea" (I think "infusion" is the more proper term), and - get this - brown rice. Probably the most commonly known macrobiotic food.

I don't know what it is, but when I'm sick, probably second to soup I instinctively want brown rice. When I have an upset stomach - yes, brown rice. When I'm stressed out and don't have much of an appetite (shocker) but know I need to eat something to avoid passing out - you guessed it, brown rice. Even plain - just cooked in either plain water or homemade veggie broth and a little bit of salt.

It turns out, when I started reading more about macrobiotics out of curiosity, brown rice is just chock-full of good stuff. I always knew brown rice was generally better than the polished white variety (well, except for Indian food... in which case it just has to be the fluffy white basmati rice).  I've been eating it for many years now and I knew that it had more protein and fiber and all that good stuff. But it also has trace minerals like manganese and selenium, as well as B vitamins.

So when I was sick last week, I seemed to just naturally gravitate toward pausing to eat slowly and mindfully. Almost as if my body just knew what it needed, without any reminding. To gently heat water for miso soup (it should not be boiled!), cook some brown rice and rhythmically chop vegetables. I think there's so much innate wisdom in our bodies, we just tend to forget in a world of fast food.

miso soup




And ok, a poached egg too. I know, it's not macrobiotic. But a lot of things are just better with a poached egg in my opinion :)

Regardless - that bowl of rice felt even more satisfying, and so deeply nourishing... simple as it was, with just some chopped carrots and scallions and a touch of sesame oil and tamari sauce. I held the pretty bowl, cupping it in my palms and letting its heat warm my hands. I watched the steam slowly rising from the mound of rice; and smelled the hint of nuttiness from the rice and toasted sesame. And I really, really tasted how sweet the carrots were. And how chewy the grains of rice felt against my teeth. Right then and there, my very simple meal seemed to taste infinitely better.

But whether you practice a macro lifestyle or not - I think there are so many lessons to learn from it. To be mindful about your food, to savor and appreciate it, and be grateful for it as much as possible. And that just elevates any everyday experience to something... sacred.

Macro or not. But I can say, macro-inspired.

Even when it's cake. You know what, let me correct myself. Especially when it's cake.





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2 comments:

DebraLynn said...

I posted this on my Going Macro page, but couldn't tag you for some reason. At some point, according to what the experts tell me, macro doesn't have to be rigid. There really are no forbidden foods, although with the healing diet, there are. Ultimately, the idea is balance. Possibly, eventually, maybe?, even cake for breakfast. Meanwhile, you might be more macro than you think. Your very understanding of food is, at some point, just as important, if not possibly more. Your words, the images you provoke with them, and the images themselves bespeak a wisdom that is deep and timeless. You are a stunning person, and I am so very grateful that we met. I am going to California soon, it appears, to meet with a new macrobiotic counselor who speaks to my soul about these deeper truths. I will let you know what I learn. Let's keep this dialogue going. I love where we are going. Love to you, my friend.

Mia (Savor Everyday) said...

Yes, let's definitely keep this conversation going!

I hope your trip goes well! Meeting someone that "speaks to your soul" - sounds wonderful. I love encounters like that, as I have with you :)

Meanwhile, I am intrigued by your macro veggie burger and that stuffed acorn squash you posted recently...

Love to you too!

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