Lessons from the ‘Chinese Nourishment of Life Tradition’
At the age of 16, Peter Deadman became fascinated with what he calls the “mysterious East”. Speaking to Wellness Daily, he explains what he has learned from age-old teachings about how to live well and live long.
Mr Deadman’s first experience in the working world was setting up a natural and organic foods restaurant, shop and warehouse in the United Kingdom in the 1970s, which he said led him toward the study of Chinese medicine and, in particular, the emphasis on preventative medicine.
“The 2,000-year-old Yellow Emperor’s Classic said that waiting for disease to develop before intervening was like only starting to dig a well when you are thirsty, or only starting to forge weapons when the battle is already raging around you,” he recounted of his early introductions.
Since that time, the now-author of Live Well Live Long: Teachings from the Chinese Nourishment of Life Tradition has delved much deeper into the philosophy.
“I have learned that while we humans depend on each other for help, including medical intervention, there is a great amount we can do for ourselves to maintain health and wellbeing. In fact, the seemingly untreatable and unaffordable spread of major chronic disease (cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, etc.) throughout the world requires a radically different approach in which health maintenance and disease prevention take centre stage,” he explained.
“This requires political will since it involves education, changes to health policy, reduction of known harms such as poverty, deprivation, environmental (especially air) pollution and much more, as well as real incentives to encourage people to change damaging lifestyles.”
There are significant health and wellbeing benefits to be gleaned from adherence to this philosophy as well, Mr Deadman argued, particularly when one is at a “healthy and vigorous old age”.
“By focusing on cultivating the mind and emotions as much as the body (through appropriate exercise) and diet, it can also be seen as path to the development of wisdom. Even more than this, because it springs from a deep connection with and love for the natural world, it can teach us to protect our precious environment since our own health and wellbeing depends on it.”
Working professionals in Australia can learn a lot from such teachings, he continued, submitting the practices can be easily incorporated into one’s day-to-day.
To do so, Mr Deadman outlined a number of “essentials” for professionals to get started:
1. “Take at least a few minutes every day to quieten and calm the mind (mindfulness), return to ourselves, and slow down and deepen the breath which in itself can induce a cascade of beneficial physiological effects,” he said.
2. “Keep moving the body as much as possible in whatever ways you enjoy, although I would encourage everyone to try out the wonderful so-called ‘internal art’ Chinese practices such as tai chi and qigong. The great 7th century doctor Sun Simiao said we should learn to exercise from flowing water, which never becomes stagnant,” he advised.
3. “Eat simple, natural, real food, lots of fibre and lots of vegetables. Most of us need to eat less and whatever dietary habits we adopt, we should always embrace enjoyable and guilt-free ways of eating.”
4. “Get lots of sleep.”
5. “Nourish ourselves through contact with nature, art, music, dance, friends, animals and those we love,” he said.
Mr Deadman’s own experience was one where he saw a need to better address his own health, given that as a child, he was “never especially robust”. As a result, he was forced to take care of himself in order to manage a life.
But there are lessons for everyone in the Chinese Nourishment for Life Tradition, he concluded.
“The world need healing right now, and the best place to start is with ourselves and then radiate out as widely as we can.”
Peter Deadman is the author of Live Well Live Long: Teachings from the Chinese Nourishment of Life Tradition.
“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain