Forget the calorie count and nutrient percentages on package labels. Forget produce marked “local”, “sustainable”, “organic.” Forget the fad diet and advice book. But never forget what could be your body’s most important criteria for strong health and long life: your whereabouts. Being in the moment matters as much for your body because what Buddhists say it does for your mind.
Time and place are crucial factors in traditional health systems whose benefits we’re rediscovering. Indian Ayurveda, Chinese, even today’s remnants of ancient Greek medicine aim to balance the body until it flows harmoniously with the cosmic forces that impact it: light, dark, air, water, cold, heat, solar energy and Earthly gravity. Nature’s continual changes-- day and night, summer and winter, land and sea, joy and sorrow—require flexibility. Too much of the same old same old is hazardous to your health: disease is the clog in metabolic piping that inevitably occurs when you don’t go with the flow. Feng shui, the Chinese science of placement, is most publically used for architectural design, as in: location, location, location. But it applies to our body’s location too. Feng shui literally means “wind water” to represent the belief we are all energy intersections of movement and stillness, lightness and weight, spirit and body. Our wellbeing depends on not tilting one way or another.
Sandra Garson is the author of Veggiyana, the Dharma of Cooking and How to Fix a Leek and Other Food From Your Farmers’ Market. As a longtime student of Tibetan Buddhism and well-known cook for Dharma centers from Maine to Mongolia, she became the first food historian to explore the Buddha’s influence on how the world now eats. This led to exploration of more religious beliefs about food.