People Say About Macrobiotics:
Questions and Answers with Michael
How did you start with macrobiotics?
An early taste: In 1968 I photographed a macrobiotic cooking class in downtown
Washington, D.C. for a college magazine. Though unconscious of foods, I was deeply
taken by the discussion (yin-yang) and the smells and tastes (delicious).
1969: Living the hippie life in Maryland and maintaining a night job as a photographic
darkroom technician, I received a telephone call from my older brother. Since
we rarely spoke it was unusual that he was inviting me to go with him on a trip
to visit the ashrams of his guru. Further, he was leaving the next morning. I
declined. That evening, when I arrived to work, I was fired. Immediately I realized
that I needed to take this journey with my brother. We went to numerous ashrams
in New England.
last one, in Vermont, was both vegetarian and macrobiotic. I stayed a week, eating,
working in the gardens and meditating. I felt renewed and wanted to find out more
about macrobiotics. My brother said that he knew someone who might be living in
Boston, and if I could find him then I would surely find Michio Kushi, the main
leader, teacher and spokesperson for macrobiotics. Also there would be others
in the Boston area learning and living in macrobiotic community. I hitchhiked
to Boston where a generous stranger gave me food and lodging while I searched
for my brother's friend. Within a few days I located him in Brookline, Mass.
said that I should meet him that Sunday afternoon at one of Michio's lectures,
which was in the living room of one of the study houses. Michio's Japanese accent
was so heavy that I could barely understand the lecture, but afterwards I met
him personally. He advised me to stay in Boston for one year and experience macrobiotics
through all of the seasons. Michio said to me, "Then you will know if you
want to stay with it." This made sense to me and I followed his advice.
Q: How has macrobiotics helped you?
Macrobiotics gave me physical strength, mental clarity and spiritual memory.
Physically, there was a new endurance. On a practical level, macrobiotics opened
me up to the delicious appreciation of vegetables. Until then, I ate few vegetables.
On the mental level, I gained improved clarity and curiosity. Philosophy inspired
me and led me to study many of the great thinkers of the ages. On a spiritual
level, I recognized a direction for my life, to work in the field of healing.
Thanks to this macrobiotic stimulus, I soon discovered acupuncture. Because there
were no acupuncture schools in the US at that time, I went to England to study
and have practiced both macrobiotic counseling and acupuncture since 1976. My
work led me to an interest in and study of western herbs, then Chinese herbs and
into the realms of psychological and spiritual dimensions.
This is a journey
with no end (at least in this lifetime!).
What do you offer and specialize in?
My main work is in two aspects of healing, macrobiotic counseling and Chinese
medicine, plus teaching in both areas. I have maintained local offices, in the
Washington, DC area for 20 years and in Asheville, N.C., during the past 9 years.
I have counseled and taught many thousands of people over the past 30 years in
many cities across America plus Canada, England, Switzerland, Italy and Israel.
is my ability to combine principles of macrobiotics with my in-depth understanding
of Chinese medicine. By using Chinese pulse diagnosis (the 12 pulses at the wrist),
tongue diagnosis, and abdominal diagnosis plus keen visual diagnostic skills,
I have an ability to discern subtleties. This often leads to simple adjustments
in diet or lifestyle that can make significant healing. My goal is to give each
client insights into
his or her unique personal condition and the inspiration
and confidence to make dynamic changes.
sustained work with macrobiotics, in my personal and professional life, comes
from a core awareness that the power of foods is the axis of change for healing
and wellness. At the same time, I have come to see that so much more needs to
be done to broaden and deepen the base of macrobiotics for the 21st century. It
must work for people on an everyday basis, where demands of working, shopping,
cooking, family, friends and social life must be accounted for.
over 20 years I have recommended culinary herbs in cooking, less pressure cooking
and revamping the "avoid" foods. Until sensory and emotional fulfillment
comes into the heart and stomach of macrobiotics, it will remain a dogmatic, intellectual,
and exclusive diet. Is macrobiotics a lifestyle or a diet? Is it Japanese or creatively
applied regionally? Is it a set of ideals that we constantly fail to obtain, or
can we make it work in the world of everyday life?
continue to enjoy and find renewed inspiration in all of this work - counseling,
teaching, and healing with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give to someone trying macrobiotics for
the first time?
See macrobiotics as a life-experiment, where self-learning is as important
as any textbook knowledge.
The centerpiece of macrobiotics is non-credo. This
is a means of self-empowerment.
the "shoulds" to something less rigid. Learn, experience, reflect, revise
and learn more. Curiosity must rule over fear. And faith in the mysterious powers
of the body to heal must rule over blind belief in a dogma.