Being happy using foods and meditation

Macrobiotics as a philosophy is rooted in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system. Wherein, each organ is related to an emotion and a season, and the health of these organs can be altered by the foods you eat. 

TCM refers to this system as ‘internal organ correspondences’. It views each organ as a complex energetic system encompassing not only its anatomical entity but each organ is correlated with a particular emotion, tissue, sense organ, mental faculty, colour, climate, taste, smell and more. 

For example, foods that will tense up your organs are cheese, eggs, salt, baked product, chips and roasted products. Foods that will cause mood swings: coffee, dairy products, sugar, preservatives (like MSG) in food, excessive fruit, or spices will all cause you to be too scattered, confused. 

This is the uniqueness and richness of a macrobiotic approach to foods which adds a whole new dimension of looking at foods. Other philosophies, look at the nutrient quotient of the food alone. How much you will get in terms of nutrient density. For example, if you eat oranges, we know it has Vitamin C and beta carotene, however, all nutritional traditions do not look at the energy of eating too many oranges. A simpler way of explaining this is when we look at what too much caffeine does to us: we know it can cause extreme moods, like elation or even jittery behaviour, promoting anxiety in many; however, this is just one drink we know off that does this. Do we all eat to make for better moods and promote healthy thinking? We all know the concept of sattvic foods, it makes for a more peaceful mind. This philosophy came out of the Ayurvedic scriptures and most yogic philosophies do talk and advocate it strongly. In this vein, TCM and Ayurveda border along with the same principles.


How to feed your organs to achieve better moods

1. To feel happy, feed your liver 

The corresponding season of the liver is spring which means everything that grows upward. Amongst whole grain: focus on Barley, amaranth (rajgeera), quinoa and oats (whole oats); amongst vegetables: on all, upward growing vegetables like sprouts, leafy greens, spring onions, radish leaves, turnips, mint leaves; and amongst beans focus on lentils (more split than whole beans). 

2. To feel less anxious feed your spleen and pancreas 

The corresponding season of the spleen and pancreas is late summer. Amongst whole grains focus on foxtail millet (also called cheena); starchy vegetables like sweet potato, red pumpkin, carrots, onions and cabbage – these are also sweet which is the corresponding taste of these organs; amongst legumes focus on black beans like rajma and black soybeans and chickpeas.

3. To feel more joyful feed your heart and small intestine 

The corresponding season of the heart is summer which means the energy is active-so in whole grains focus on brown rice and amaranth (rajgeera); amongst legumes on sprouts, soybeans; include bitter foods like radish, mustard leaves, onion and garlic; amongst vegetables focus on leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, and seeds like chia and flax. 

4. If you don’t want to suffer from sadness and depression feed your lungs 

The corresponding season of the lungs is autumn and the taste is pungent. All whole grains will work here; pungent vegetables will act better on this organ-like radish (which borders on being pungent and bitter), mustard leaves and mustard will help discharge any mucous in this organ and clear it up. Greens like arugula (bitter/pungent), broccoli, wheatgrass and parsley. Also, spirulina will help discharge this organ as it is rich in chlorophyll. 

5. To be more secure and less fearful feed your kidneys? 

The corresponding season of the kidneys is winter and the taste is salty. All magnesium-rich foods will help calm the nerves (all heart foods help here); whole grains: millet, barley, buckwheat (kuttu); fermented products like tofu made of soybean, and all other whole beans especially kidney beans of all kinds; spirulina has magnesium at its centre so it will help clear the kidneys. A salty flavour that is the right salt like rock or sea salt will balance the kidneys, but if you use too much salt it may contract the kidneys further causing the emotion of insecurity to persist. 

I would also like to add a whole new neglected organ and that is your microbiota, or the microorganisms, bacteria that live inside your gut. To stay happy, 90% of serotonin is made in the gut. We need to keep them happy by eating high fibre foods, prebiotic foods and fermented foods to provide good probiotics. If we focus on this approach, then we start creating diverse strains of bacteria that keep our gut bags happy. In the end, a state of mind free of depressionanxietyobsessive-compulsive disorders, any issue that tends to push us in a negative thought mode comes out of our foods and what we choose to build our day up with. If we focus on feeding the organs, fuelling our emotions we remain happy. That is the secret of happiness. 

Another secret of happiness is meditating. I have been a Vipassana practitioner for twenty-five years. The only thing that has been able to rewire my mind, and keep me away from negative thought patterns is keeping a daily meditation practice. While food sets the foundation for things to start happening with the mods you will have, and the kind of thoughts you will have. Meditating adds a whole new dimension to emotions and how we deal with them. Keeping away from negativity at the sense door level, that is not reacting blindly to any stimuli that come in, is the key to being happy. Tapping into the area between a stimulus and response, is where the magic happens. Vipassana meditation has taught me that, and is worth a try.

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