How to eat is more important than what to eat

(Apologies if you have received this post more than once but it seems gremlins have entered the system and most people aren’t receiving my blog posts. It would be helpful to let me know at peter@jcm.co.uk if you do receive this. Thanks.) Well, it’s not strictly true, but the ‘how’ of eating … our eating habits … are certainly at least as important as the ‘what’. If we overeat, eat when rushed, angry, walking/standing, working or slumped on the sofa, eat too late at night, or have some kind of pathological relationship to food, we can weaken and damage our
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The Gongfu of Ageing

The term gongfu (kung fu) evokes images of fighters leaping through the air in meticulously choreographed fights, accompanied by a biff-bang soundtrack, or else shaven-headed Shaolin monks smashing bricks with their fists. But the original meaning of gongfu is quite different from that. ‘Gong‘ means work, achievement or skill, and is the same character that appears in the word qigong (skill in vital energy). Gongfu is the seemingly effortless expertise that results from the prolonged and dedicated practice of any art. As Samuel Johnson, the 18th century English lexicographer, said, “What we hope ever to do with ease, we must
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Philosophical ramblings

I risk self-indulgence by posting something more personal than I usually do in this blog. If any part of it resonates (or causes discord), please respond and we can debate it. So … I recently got back from a ten-day qigong camp in Devon which I teach at every year. And as happens every year, the camp presents me with massive rewards (community, nature, qigong, music, dance, poetry, friendship, laughter and more) as well as quite a few challenges. One of these that crops up for me year after year is the question of ‘belief’. I was brought up in an
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Live Well Long now published as an iBook

Dear friends Just a note to say that my recent book Live Well Live Long: Teachings from the Chinese Nourishment of Life Tradition is now available as an iBook for Apple devices. It’s not that I’m an Apple fanatic but their iBooks books creation allows  for real creative design (unlike other digital publishing forms). So I’ve been able to add photos and live reference links and links to videos etc. It’s also half the price of the printed book. Please spread the word, thanks.
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How to reduce our stress response at the deepest level

Anyone who practises integrated mind-body methods such as yoga, meditation, tai chi or qigong knows how effective they are in helping us feel calmer, more centred, and more stable in our responses to the world. For some people this effect can be immediately felt at their very first class, although for others it takes longer. When we make this kind of practice a part of our daily life, we can begin to feel this relaxation response deepening. In fact we can begin to condition ourselves so that as soon as we take our meditation position, put on our tai chi clothes and
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Let’s campaign against pesticides and save the natural world

Two things happened to me yesterday. My daughter gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl, and I went to see Professor Dave Goulson give a talk on pesticides and their effects on wild bee populations. The two events are connected. The truth about the state of nature is deeply painful to hear. The world that my new grand-daughter is likely to have to live in will be very different from the one we do, or rather the one we used to. We humans are simply wiping out life on earth. The population of farmland birds and wild animals of
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Why do we get ill?

Once we understand that our lifestyle and behaviour have a big impact on our health and wellbeing, it’s easy to slip into thinking they are the only factors. This can have negative consequences since we can then start casting blame when illness develops, even if it’s unrelated to anything that we or others do or fail to do. So it’s helpful to be reminded of two other major factors that affect our chances of being well and leading a long healthy life – our inherited constitution and the good or bad fortune we encounter. As far as constitution is concerned
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The healthiest diet in the world?

(Apologies if you’ve received notification of this post already but something is not working in the depths of WordPress) Something strange has happened in the fevered world of dietary debate over the last few years. Cereal grains, which we rely on for around 50% of our calories wordwide, have been deemed harmful – and even poisonous – by advocates of diets such as the fashionable Paleolithic diet. They argue that the advent of farming (and therefore cereal cultivation) around ten thousand years ago marked a low point in human development and that the many tens of thousands of years before
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Emotions and heart disease

Chinese medicine has taught for over two thousand years that excessive or prolonged emotions can cause real and lasting harm to the mind and body. One of the most challenging to understand is the emotion they called ‘joy’. For example, the 2000-year old Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine warned that, “Joy harms the heart”. It is clear from other passages in this book (commonly considered the ‘bible’ of early Chinese medicine) that what is being referred to is not joy in the sense of quiet contentment, but rather joy in the sense of excitement or over-excitement. The renowned Dr John Shen in London once told
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MODERN HUMANS WITH AGE-OLD PHYSIOLOGIES

We are modern humans. We can work and play throughout the night in 24-hour cities, travel between time zones, and behave as though the great yinyang cycles of day and night, summer and winter, barely impact on us. Yet the evidence grows that our physiology is ancient and that this apparent modernity is just a thin skin over our long evolutionary past. The latest finding is that a change as simple as putting the clocks forward by one hour (daylight saving time) contributes to significantly higher miscarriage rates among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The article (published in Chronobiology
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