[responsive][/responsive]Arty felt extremely uncomfortable. Sclerosa a bit ashamed. But Emily felt right at home eating inside the Co-op’s restaurant. They were, admittedly, out of place. No one in there was over 200 pounds except them.
Emily could see they were uncomfortable. She watched with compassion as Sclerosa tried her best to make a salad. Arty didn’t make it nearly as far, but he did find some whole bran and macadamia nut muffins in the pastry cabinet near the checkout. He also found a local soda vendor in the fish-out-by-hand cooler. Sclerosa ordered a coffee, but it looked like a slim dinner for her. She and Arty had exchanged glances at the checkout. Now they sat across from Emily as she scarfed casually from a plate of what could only be described – by them – as something that looked both appetizing and like fodder for rabbits or perhaps compost.
She didn’t pay it any mind, knowing that changes in diet had to come over time. Often these are the very things that need the most time to alter.
[separator headline=”h1″ title=”Part 1, the inner Anatomy”]
“Arty, how much do you know about your brain, and about the mind?” Emily asked.
“Not much, really. I know.. .you know… right brain people are artsy like… like the people in this cafe probably. And left brain people know how to do math and think. You know, the basics.”
Emily smiled, “Well, that is a gross simplification, and an old adage, but actually it is quite useful here. You see in TCM we say that the right side of the body is yang or male, and the left is yin, or female. This means the left hemisphere is the yang, and the right the female, because of how the nerves cross at the medula in the back of your head. This is like Fire and Water. The right hemisphere is indeed more… dynamic and emotional, but the left is more control oriented and calculating. Yet they need each other. Thus the very first problem that can arise is what we call a problem between husband and wife, or yang and yin in the body. From a scientific perspective, what happens is they simply get out of sync with each other. As we discussed before. Meditation, for example, helps to balance them. So does certain acupuncture techniques.
[responsive][/responsive]”But…” and she hesitated, “what I really wanted to talk about was a certain unknown fact that has been gathering in neuroscience in the last 10 years, and correlates with TCM thinking, albeit only in a cursory way. That is the fact that you really have 5 brains. Two we have just discussed, without going into the specifics of areas of the cortex. Then there is the Cerebellum, which no one knows how much influence it has, the ‘hidden brain’ (Limbic System) or lower CNS, which seems to be run by the Thalamus, Hippocampus, Reticular Formation and the nearby glands the hypothalamus and pituitary, and then the ‘brain of the gut’ or Peripheral Nervous System and its subsidiary Enteric Nervous System (of the stomach).”
Arty kind of blinked. Sclerosa just sat there staring, wondering if she heard right. “Wait, are you saying my stomach thinks?”
Emily smiled and nodded. “Think about it. Who decided it was time to eat? We were at the office having a high level discussion. Our guts made the decision, and our other brains agreed. The thought just rose up out of a cloud of neurons that they ahve found to be as diverse and complex as the pons and medulla themselves. This means they don’t just tell us when it’s time to eat because something is empty. They feel things and from all accounts of psychology research, they can store memories too. Who knows, in another few years it may be proven that conditions of toxic stagnation like cancer, shingles, PCOS, prostatitis, and more could actually be strong memories unprocessed by the muscles of the organs. They are, after all muscles, which means they are FULL of neurons and electrical pathways. I’ve seen muscles twitch and move needles (channel Wind) without patient involvement, [responsive][/responsive]because they have so much electrical activity stored inside their muscles. Where would all that come from? Only from their thoughts and feelings.”
“You know,” Arty said, “That kind of explains a lot. I don’t feel in control of myself, so to speak, when it comes to diet. After all, I would like to eat better. But every-time I start a diet, it just sorta… fights back. I can’t seem to get any kind of traction. Why is that?”
[separator headline=”h1″ title=”The Chain of Command”]
“My teacher used to tell me,” Emily explained, “That the source of all thoughts, feelings, and habits come from beliefs. And beliefs themselves are the roots, but the seed is the paradigm that they spring from. You can wish for a pear, but if you planted an apple or peach tree, you won’t get a pear no matter how much you try…”
“Makes sense, but what’s a ‘paradigm’?”
“Well, it’s a pattern of though-behavior and belief. Usually given to you by parents, teachers, ministers, and cultures. It’s something you believe so deeply, you don’t question it, and you live by it like a credo, even if you don’t know why or even agree anymore. Food habits learned from growing up would fall under this category.”
“Like… well like the idea that boxed and frozen foods in the middle part of the grocery store are really food. Firstly, anything that can’t rot or flies won’t eat, like margarine or certain cereals… that can’t be good for you. Second, if it is full of chemicals you cannot pronounce the names of, well there’s a good chance your body can’t process them either. Bottom line is, it takes a lot of personal time and research to undo these eating habits that come from commercial television ideas. Like TV dinners? Or Hot Pockets? Those kinds of things are deadly to the pancreas and over work the liver and kidneys. Just imagine how your heart feels. If your body is miserable, then it is bound to have negative feelings. Ironically, though, many of the substances these food companies – chemical labs is more like it – produce are highly addictive for a reason. Both your psychology and biology are per-designed to associate foods. You have a soda, and you’ll want a pizza. You have pizza and you’ll want fries and a coke. You have those you’ll want a hot dog and a milkshake. Then fried chicken, and for some cigarettes. It’s ironic because your body knows what is good for it… but like any other person, it often chooses and desires what isn’t. That gets into some pretty deep psychology, which I’d need to refer you to my teacher, Shifu Careaga, if you really want to know more. But the bottom line is, garbage in, garbage out. If you keep eating the wrong way, you reinforce the garbage paradigm, and your feelings will naturally be garbage as well.”
It stung, but it was also refreshing to hear. “Listen, I like what you’re saying, but…”
“But you just can’t get full on Rabbit-food?” Emily smiled.
Sclerosa turned a bit red and Arty kind of gaped… “Well, when you put it that bluntly, yeah. I’m a big guy. I need meat.”
“No reason to stop, Arty. I don’t want you to change all at once. If the President tries to force an agenda on eveyrone, he receives a backlash. If you try to up and change all at once without an emotional need – like heart attack or cancer, where the body is literally scared – you’ll have a backlash and come to despise the organic and whole foods movement. You’ll find it too expensive, too time consuming, too hypocritical, too hyper-critical, too political, too whatever… We need to sort of turn up the boiler slowly so the frog never knows what hit him. So to speak. I eat meat, after all, this is meat. This is lamb felafel.”
“Oh, so that’s what that is,” Sclerosa said.
“So, doc,” Arty asked, “What’s the so called Chain of Command here in this 5-brain system. I mean, how can I – Arty Rio – get control of myself? Or is that too wood-like?”
“Very good Arty, for you to realize that is a wood-like behavior of the ego. Listen, you do have control. But like a President has a cabinet, you have minister-organs and they each have their demands. So we are going to coax things along. But you ARE at the top of the physical pyramid. I won’t get into religion here, but within your body, you are the head honcho. You jsut have to recognize it.”
“And have an emotional need… I mean, that’s why I am here, right?”
“Sounds like it. So that’s one place to start. You’re hiring me to guide you through the process. And like my teacher’s hero, Zhuge Liang, I will guide you to completion if you’ll hearken to me and listen to my system. Forget all the words you have heard about diet and exercise so far, there are so many versions you’ll be confused forever. But in the end, you can hear me and listen, or hear me and ignore and follow the advice of your internal ministers. Their biases and disdains, their shames, regrets, and sad memories will well up. Who will you listen to?”
“Well, he’ll listen to me!” Sclerosa piped in.
“Good, then you can listen to each other. Going on a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. That first step is to find a road-map. TCM and many alternative therapies can be the stops and guides on that road-map, but your inner exploration is the start. You’ll need supplies, discipline, and courage. I can help you with supplies. That is not a problem. You can borrow discipline. Be mindful of your friends, and places you eat, look at the clientele, and be mindful of your desires and thoughts… and you can do anything. When you start receiving acupuncture, you’ll definitely feel the sting of shame, regret, and undigested emotions. That’s right, undigested. As in you are mentally and emotionally constipated. It’s un-manly to have feelings at your job, isn’t that right?”
“Damn straight. Fella could get a good long ribbin’ from me for complaining on the job, or missing a day, so I have no room to do so.”
“Well now it’s got to be the opposite. Ignoring your Reality, you have wandered far off to the left of your path, and you are both discovering you want more time, more health, more love, more LIFE… that means not doing the same things that got you there in the first place. That means trusting someone with a different perspective than the Establishment. The Establishment is this: the healthcare system doesn’t take into account the food you eat, and the food system doesn’t take into account your health. It’s not profitable to give people herbs and foods that your body was designed to consume, but it is profitabelt o give you foods that make you sick, then pills that treat the sickness, so you can continue to get the same bad foods. Stop this non-sense now while you can, Arty, and value your life for the very first time.”
The power of what she had just said reverberated in the CORE of their being. For the first time in many decades, the two saw outside of themselves, as to who they might have been and who they could be. Like being a newly-wed couple again. Young, vibrant, and full of promise, instead of worn out faces, bodies, and spirits.
Emily knew it from their long looks and yet gleaming eyes. They looked older than before, gaunt, and sad. Yet reverent. She put down her napkin. “Look, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to go on a drive this weekend, just get away. Go long and far away, and stay far away. Do something fun. But above all, spend time reading together the book “In Defense of Food” and also I’d like it if you found some online marriage counseling materials designed to help you get to know each other more. In this way you’ll have things to discuss as a couple. Getting re-acquainted. I have only 2 rules. Have fun, and don’t argue. No one is righter or wronger than anyone else. I want you to explore differences in up-bringing on the topics of food, and list the places you like to eat, which places you think you should keep, and which you shouldn’t. I want you to talk about exercise routines, and what seems like something you can do together. I want you to just in general, become a team for health, helping each other see things clearly. Arty, this means setting aside male-pride and opening up. Sclerosa, this means no hen-pecking or complaining if he is bottling something up. You have to work together, can you do that?”
Arty sighed and nodded, smiling, and Sclerosa looked at him lovingly, putting her hand on his, “Yeah doc,” he raised his head up, “If that’s what it takes, I can do this. I gotta take off work. I mean I hope I can.”
“You will,” Emily said, “Or you won’t start healing.”
Arty nodded, and for the first time, was not just humbled, but on his knees emotionally, ready to accept help.
End of Issue 9