What Else is Here?
The brain likes to take short cuts, condense our experience down into a simplified uncomplicated version. Our senses bring us the vast unfiltered sensations of the world, and then the brain discards what it considers non-important or what does not fit with the beliefs, biases, preferences and other whispered stories we continually tell ourselves about life.
Experience is always much richer — and often full of conflicting information — than the stories we grind out in the sausage mill of the mind. And this process of editing, ignoring or actively screening impoverishes our experience. The editing allows us to mindlessly strengthen our stance against a family member we feel wronged by, nourish hatred of a group of people we fear, argue with ourselves about our own experience and skip over information that just might bring a solution — if only we could untangle from our own Chinese puzzle-box mind.
It's not a matter of adopting a positive perspective, but more a knack for letting in more of our experience, finding a neutral space in the discomfort of all the contradictions. Abiding without complaint in the tension of opposites. Like tasting some truly foreign food and exploring the curious sensations it evokes without jumping to the resolution of “like” or “dislike.”
Inhabiting the actual sensations from the food — hot, astringent, textured or perhaps with a fragrance that wanders outside your current vocabulary; noting what is felt on the sides of the tongue, deep within the sinus bones or the back of the throat; and staying with the experience long enough to have a sense of discernment before judgment kicks in.
Finding a moment of neutral allows the opportunity to hold that tension created by opposites, much like the way Sichuanese cooking combines hot with numbing and cooling all at once.
Too often, we resolve the tension and nuanced complexity of experience by turning our lives into a sound-byte loop that limits our response and options. So instead, allow yourself to sit for a moment, stay in the experience and see if the storylines will unwind themselves and reveal the tapestry of emotions and sensation underneath. Most of us strive to maintain an internal sense of consistency and we tend to reduce the present moment to a one-liner, something we can like or hate.
It can get uncomfortable when we tune into our own contradictions. But it also makes life more vivid as we cozy up to the “impossible.” And at times it allows the heart to unfold a solution that the mind, with its limits of logic, cannot grasp.
Good Carb, Bad Carb, Slow Carb, Fast Carb
We often hear about how some carbohydrates are “good” and others are “bad.” I think it is more helpful to think of carbs as “fast” or “slow.” Read on for an understanding of carbohydrates from your metabolism's point of view, and why carbs so often get a bad rap.
Our bodies turn carbohydrates into sugar, which in turn increases our blood sugar levels. When blood sugar goes up, the pancreas responds by secreting insulin. Insulin's job is to clear sugar out of the blood stream. It does this in two ways. The first is by sensitizing our cells so they more easily take up sugar from the blood, which in turn is burned as fuel. The second is by causing the liver to pull sugar from the blood and turn it into fat.
The other interesting thing about insulin is that because its job is to regulate blood sugar levels, it will prevent any fat from being burned while blood sugar levels are high. So if you eat an energy bar (most of which contain a significant amount of sugar) and then go exercise, you will not burn a molecule of fat while your blood sugar levels are above a certain point. Calories really don't count here. Fat metabolism is intimately tied to the levels of sugar and insulin in the blood stream.
“Fast” carbs, which include any grain that has been ground into flour, sugar, breads, pastries, pasta, potatoes, many fruits and especially fruit juices, will skyrocket your blood sugar levels. The “slow” carbs, which include green leafy vegetables, legumes and whole grains, also will break down into sugars, but they do so more slowly, and thus don't spike the blood sugar (and by extension) insulin levels. Plus, the fiber in the slow carbs help to support healthy gut flora by providing nourishment for the beneficial bacteria that reside in the large intestine.
It’s not about good carbs vs bad carbs. It’s about slow carbs vs fast. Again, the fast carbs spike your blood sugar while the slow carbs put less of a sugar load on your system.
If you are looking to improve your metabolism, lose weight or have sustained and reliable energy, then keeping insulin levels stable with your food choices is a good way to go.
To The Max: Readers Write
But according to science, this is impossible!
First, when we talk about “science,” it is important to remember that acupuncture is based on the principles of Chinese science and philosophy that go back thousands of years. And before you dismiss the idea that philosophy has anything to do with this, consider that modern Western science also is based on a philosophy. Western science has its roots in the philosophical perspective that says only that which is measurable and observable is worth considering. And that it is possible to accurately observe phenomenon from an outside perspective.
Chinese science flows from the perspective that everything is connected, and that includes the observer to the observed. If that sounds a bit like modern physics, that's because the two disciplines share similar views. Western science as it is usually practiced in the medical field is reductionist, meaning it makes sense of things by breaking them down into smaller and smaller pieces. Chinese science, on the other hand, is more interested in how whole systems are embedded within each other and how they mutually influence each other.
So how is it that Chinese medicine can effectively treat something like Bell's palsy when modern medicine says this is an untreatable condition?
It is because we are looking from different points of view. This is the same reason why Chinese medicine can regulate a woman's irregular menstrual period without the use of synthetic hormones, reduce migraines without resorting to medications that end up causing rebound headaches and help the restless to naturally slip into a restful night’s sleep without the use of sedative drugs.
We are less concerned with the “problem” and more focused on the individual nature of the person affected, how that “problem” came about and how it is currently held in place. We also think that in many situations the body can repair itself with some supportive input. Or perhaps some changes in habit or lifestyle.
In the case of Bell's Palsy, we can provide treatment that stimulates blood flow, influences the nervous system and helps to calm the anxiety and fear that go along with having a part of your body suddenly not work the way you are used to having it work.
It is not that one medicine is better than another, but that one might be more suitable for certain situations than the other. And when it comes to treating “impossible” conditions, remember that there are all kinds of unexplained remissions and healings with everything from cancer to Parkinson's that happen from time to time and are unexplainable by modern medicine.
Just because our perspective is limited does not mean the body is limited. It's not helpful to consider something “impossible” because we don't understand it or it does not fit into our current understanding of the world.
Kitchen Tips from Tracy
By Tracy Wang
When was the last time you thoroughly cleaned your oven? Did you have to resort to toxic chemicals to get the job done?
I recently watched a video on YouTube where the woman used just baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to clean the oven. I tried it. Even my husband commented on it.
Why do I like this method?
Because no toxic chemicals come into contact with your skin or cookware. Also, both the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are cheap and probably in your house right now – and this method is virtually scrub-free!
What do you need?
It’s very simple: ½ cup baking soda, ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide and sponges or cleaning cloths.
First, mix baking soda and hydrogen into a paste in a bowl. Next, remove the racks from your oven and place them in a big sink or the bathtub. Use a sponge to apply the paste to the inside of your oven, including the oven door. (You can lather up the oven racks too.) Let everything sit for at least 4 hours or overnight, which works even better.
Then get a clean bowl of warm water and start wiping down your oven with a cloth or sponge. You might have to change your rinse water a few times, and that's how you know it's working! It’s amazing how you can see all of the grease and grime being lifted off right before your eyes.
Cleaning your oven this way is easy and reduces the toxic chemicals in your house and in our environment. Try it!
The process of inquiry involves asking questions for the purpose of going deeper into the mystery. Not necessarily to solve it, but to be in relationship with it.
Each time I ask, “What else…?”
I have come to value the experience of longing to know, rather than the actual knowing. It creates a momentum within me that fuels my exploration, inviting me to dive deeper into relationship with the mystery.
— Bonnie Gintis