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What People Say About Macrobiotics:
Questions and Answers with
Michael Rossoff

Q: How did you start with macrobiotics?
A: 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).

June, 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.

The 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.

He 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?
A: 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!).

Q: What do you offer and specialize in?
A: 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.

My specialty 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.

My 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.

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?

I 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?
A: 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.

Change 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.

Michael Rossoff


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