Live Well Live Long: Teachings from the Chinese Nourishment of Life Tradition
Live Well Live Long explores the wonderful Chinese tradition of nourishing life (yangsheng) and applies it to modern life. As well as the traditional topics covered in yangsheng teachings - which mostly concern personal health care - concern for social, global and planetary health in the modern age demands the application of the wise principles of the yangsheng tradition to issues as varied as social justice, education, modern childbirth, climate change and environmental degradation, agricultural sustainability and so on. These are all covered in this meticulously researched book.
“Peter Deadman has achieved something wonderful, something gorgeous in creating this book. He has managed to write with great simplicity, eloquence and gracefulness about a subject which is deep and rich; yangsheng, the Chinese tradition of nourishing life … I am certain that the book will appeal to anyone who has no knowledge of the Chinese philosophy (it would be a wonderful introduction for our patients) of how to look after ourselves in body, mind and spirit through diet, exercise, sleep, deepening our relationship with nature,v‘affairs of the bedroom’ and even music and dance, amongst other gifts.”
Emma Farrant, The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine Journal (see more reviews below)
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"This is an authoritative, scholarly, thorough and compassionate book about being alive in its broadest and highest sense. It has much to offer practitioners, educators and the general public."
Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
“Elegant and accessible, informative but undogmatic, comprehensive yet not boastful. It is a magnificent achievement, especially in the way in which it incorporates knowledge and wisdom from many cultures with no conspicuous friction. Deadman recognises and acknowledges many uncertainties and gaps in our knowledge, yet articulates an illuminating and authoritative narrative.”
Erik Millstone, Professor of Science Policy at the University of Sussex
"Elegantly written and diligently referenced; this book is an ultimate guide for wellbeing. The uncompromising relevance of this book makes it a must for all TCM practitioners and a first recommendation to all our patients."
Yanan Kim, Teamor Tea Tailors, Australia
"This is a beautiful book. It is written in a way that would make it accessible to anyone, while at the same time conveying important, well researched and useful items of knowledge. A great book to have on the shelf, for the chapters are very clear so it's easy to dip into if you want advice on a particular subject. A rich array of wisdomous tips to live a long and healthy life which have their conception in Chinese medicine, however they are all backed up with western/modern research. I highly recommend."
Journal of Chinese Medicine review
If first impressions are anything to go by, then Peter Deadman's Live Well Live Long ticks all the boxes for presentation and production values. With its elegant cover and glossy heavy grade paper, this beautifully bound book serves as a worthy introduction and thorough exploration of the long-standing tradition of yangsheng (nourishing life) in Chinese health culture. Yangsheng will be familiar to most readers as practices for the cultivation of health, physical and mental balance, detachment from excessive emotions, integration of mind and body and ultimately the promotion of wisdom and longevity. This tradition has been developed over the last two and a half thousand years as part of Chinese culture.
In settling down to read this book, I couldn't help initially drawing comparisons with Daniel Reid's The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity that marked my introduction and subsequent fascination with Chinese Medicine nearly 25 years ago whilst traveling around South East Asia. In many respects, Deadman's new book covers much of the same ground, but, whilst reading it felt like a homecoming of sorts for me, this book stands as an altogether more mature exploration of the topic of Chinese health traditions. Whilst other books covering yangsheng principles have tended to be heavily burdened with Chinese Medicine (CM) terminology and technical details of various practices such as qigong, Deadman has favoured a more research-led academic approach to the subject. There is an introduction to some of the key terms required for the discussion such as yin, yang, qi, blood, jing and shen, as well as the concepts of pathogenic factors, stagnation and stasis, but it is very clear from the outset that CM diagnosis and treatment fall outside the remit of this book. So much so, in fact, that further clarification of CM terms is tucked away in a useful glossary at the rear. Though this may disappoint some readers, the decision to keep this text firmly focused on Chinese health traditions rather than Chinese medicine will broaden its appeal to a wider audience, without losing its relevance in terms of both traditional and modern medical thinking. Despite the author describing this text as a 'workshop manual', he wisely avoids the obvious pitfalls of providing specific dietary advice, recipes, exercises, breathing techniques, supplements, herbal remedies or sexual health practices, beyond the general principles espoused in the nourishing life traditions.
Live Well Live Long is logically laid out, devoting chapters to all the major areas of the yangsheng tradition. A brief introduction to the definition of yangsheng is followed by an overview of the health challenges that today's society faces from chronic disease, with a cautionary reminder of the limits of medicine in trying to deal with the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression and dementia. Concepts of constitution, inherited and acquired essence, gender, poverty, environmental factors, work, ignorance, medical treatment and even luck are introduced as determinants of how long we are likely to live and how healthy we are likely to be. The individual causes of disease are then explored further in relation to how they affect the balance of healthy and pathogenic qi, with constant reference to modern day studies that back up the traditional Chinese view. Chapters are then devoted to each of the main areas of yangsheng: cultivating the mind and emotions, diet (how and what to eat), exercise, sleep, affairs of the bedroom, pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care, and care of children all gain extensive coverage, and are complemented by chapters on less obvious subjects such as alcohol, tea, nature, music and dance, old age and death.
The two chapters on diet are particularly thorough, yet not overly proscriptive, covering how and when to eat as well as what to eat. As well as the major food types, they also cover modern concerns such as gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease, healthy fats, excess sugar, as well as vegetarianism and research on pesticides and organic foods. The subject of exercise is similarly well treated, warning against excessive practices and espousing the virtues of softer forms of exercise that integrate strength and flexibility, mind and body, and that are particularly suitable after a certain age. The chapter on affairs of the bedroom succinctly covers the tradition of self cultivation through sexual practice without getting bogged down in specifics. A new perspective is offered here on male ejaculation as Deadman seeks to settle the age-old debate on whether or not men should 'spill their seed.' Modern day research is used to inform the debate, including reference to prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction, and also includes comment on the effect of pornography on health and libido.
The core concepts of Taijiao (foetal education), natural birth and 'doing the month' during postpartum care are covered in depth, offering key insights into the potential risks and opportunities for changing the health outcomes of both child and mother. This leads to an interesting discussion on John Shen's ideas about pregnancy being a 'gateway' time of life (together with puberty and menopause), when significant physiological change can lead to either ill health or growth and vibrancy. Other chapters are equally revealing, and reading through them gives one the sense that no stone has been left unturned in this exploration of health. Broader considerations of environmental health, pollution, sustainability, global health concerns, social justice and education are incorporated where necessary, adding a modern day context to traditional wisdom and reminding us that global stewardship is as much a part of yangsheng as self cultivation. Of particular interest is the fascinating discussion on the importance of the microbiome, complete with references to faecal transplants in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and mention of Ge Hong's infamous 'yellow soup' (a preparation of dried or fermented faeces). This is quite rightly nestled in the appendices along with discussions of detoxing, smoking, Chinese science, the history of Chinese health exercise and spirituality.
As one might expect, this book draws heavily from the huge list of references that follow each chapter. By the author's own admission, the reliance on research can make for heavy reading at times, but thankfully the text is cleverly punctuated with research summary boxes and the liberal use of quotes and excerpts from sources as diverse as the Neijing, the Daodejing, the writings of Sun Simiao, Hippocrates, Shakespeare and even A.A Milne's Winnie the Pooh. Their use pays respect to the classics and wisdom of old, while serving as a bridge between traditional thinking and modern day research, and illustrating that ultimately health considerations essentially have not changed much in 3000 years. This mixed format ensures that the reader feels a palpable connection between the past and present at every turn. Time and time again, Deadman successfully uses modern day research to confirm that, in almost all areas of life, a moderated, balanced and harmonious 'middle way' tailored to the individual has routinely been shown to foster better health outcomes than the extremes of behaviour that are all too common in today's busy lifestyles.
If I had to offer any criticism it would be that the text would benefit from the occasional illustration to break up proceedings. Deadman has also played it safe in avoiding even a cursory discussion on vaccinations, although given the current hostile climate surrounding the debate, this omission is understandable. In summary, there is much to like about this book. For practitioners it serves as validation of many of the principles upon which our medicine is based at a time when we are coming under attack for lack of robust 'evidence.' More importantly it confirms to us that the promotion of basic health maintenance is as important as the medicine that we offer. This book therefore serves as a valuable resource to draw from or refer patients to for continuation of their care.
For the lay reader - who is bombarded with new health information daily in the form of quick fix protocols, fads and miracle cures - Live Well Live Long offers a welcome steady ship in the storm. It demonstrates, using modern research, that the accumulated wisdom of Chinese health culture, when studied and applied appropriately to our lives, can have a profound and lasting effect on health, from gestation to the grave. As such it offers the lay reader a gateway to better health. Deadman has delivered a timely and important text that will be equally at home on a practitioners desk as on a coffee table. I shall be recommending it widely to patients and family alike.
Chapter 1: What is yangsheng - nourishment of life?
Keeping it simple
What is yangsheng?
The four legs of the chair
Where does modern health and lifestyle research come from?
Longevity in Chinese culture
Chapter 2: Health - the challenge and the opportunity
The limits of medicine
Chronic disease – facts and warnings
What can we do about it?
Chapter 3: What determines how long we live and how healthy we are?
The Chinese explanation of constitution – inherited essence
Acquired - post-heaven essence
Constitutional strength - a throw of the dice?
Constitution and longevity – the evidence
Chapter 4: Why we get ill
The causes of disease
The external causes of disease – climatic factors
The internal causes of disease – the emotions
Neither internal nor external (miscellaneous) causes
Overwork and overstrain
Lack of exercise
Parasites and poisons
Wrong medical treatment
Ignorance54The teachings of Dr. John HF Shen
Chapter 5: Cultivating the mind and emotions
Moderating our emotions
The harmful effect of unregulated emotions
Free expression versus repression
Thinking and preoccupation
Worry and anxiety
Fear and fright
Other emotions - stress
How to manage the emotions and cultivate the mind
Mindfulness and meditation
Nature, music and art
Chapter 6: Diet – how to eat
Diet – the challenges
How to eat - quantity
How to eat – regular eating
On dieting, diets and weight loss
Chapter 7: Diet – what to eat
The decline of modern food
The qing dan diet
Adjusting our diet to our needs
Eat real food
What to eat – an overview
What to eat – the detail
Whole cereal grains
Nuts and seeds
Vitamins and supplements
Vegetarian – to be or not to be?
Balancing the five temperatures and the five tastes
Chapter 8: Alcohol
Alcohol – the harm
Alcohol – the benefits
What is moderate drinking?
Making sense of alcohol research
A Chinese medicine perspective
Chapter 9: Tea
Tea and health
Principal varieties of tea
A brief history of tea
Chapter 10: Exercise
Ancient wisdom, modern forgetting
What is exercise?
The evidence for exercise and health
Exercise and the mind
Exercise, but how much?
More is not necessarily better
Exercise during pregnancy
A broader view of exercise
Chapter 11: Traditional Chinese exercise
The evidence base
Principles of the Chinese exercise tradition
Integration of body, breath and mind
Internal and external, hard and soft
The elastic body – the fascia
Rootedness and balance
Internal exercises – the spiritual dimension
A word about practice
Afterword - Chinese sports
Chapter 12: Sleep
The effects of insufficient sleep
Chinese sleep advice
Preparing the mind
Avoiding eating before bedtime
Washing the feet
How much should we sleep?
Exercise and sleep
Meditation and sleep
A brief explanation of sleep disturbance in Chinese medicine
Chapter 13: Affairs of the bedroom
Sex as pleasure and joy
Sex is healthy for both partners
Sex is also dangerous
A different perspective on male ejaculation
Females as sources of nourishment
The female perspective
About libido and constitution
Erectile dysfunction and male health
Research into sex and health
Chapter 14: Pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum care, breastfeeding
Foetal education (taijiao)
Early and preterm birth
The case for a ‘follow nature’ approach to birth
Postnatal depression and anxiety
So what’s the alternative?
A calm birthing environment
Zuoyezi, or ‘doing the month’
Breastfeeding – the optimum diet for babies
Pregnancy as a ‘gateway’
Chapter 15: Care of children
Causes of disease in children
Improper feeding - overfeeding
Improper feeding - wrong ‘temperature’ food
Improper feeding – excessively sweet food
Improper feeding - whole foods
Improper feeding - dairy foods
Improper feeding - junk food
Improper feeding - soya
Body image disorders
Chapter 16: Nature
Human beings, health and nature – the evidence
Nature in Chinese culture
Nature and Chinese medicine
Attuning life to the ebb and flow of yin and yang
The internal landscape – the neijing tu
The internal landscape - acupuncture
The internal landscape - climate
Five phase theory (wu xing)
Nature and herbal medicine
Nature in the self-cultivation tradition
The dark shadow over the natural world
Chapter 17. Music and dance
Music and healing
Music and the natural order in the Chinese tradition
A brief history of Chinese music
Ritual – music and dance
Chapter 18. Old age
Ageing and expectation
Ageing and free flow
Ageing and exercise
Ageing and diet
Ageing and the mind
The ageing brain
Chapter 19. Death
Dealing with advanced ageing
The medicalisation of death
The fixer mindset
Finding meaning in death
Chinese philosophy and death
Appendix A: The extraordinary story of our microbial friends
What is the microbiota
The development of the microbiota - birth and early feeding
The development of the microbiota - diet
The microbiota and calorie restriction
The microbiota and the appendix
The microbiota and antibiotics
The microbiota and the immune system
The microbiota and obesity
The microbiota and the mind
The microbiota and the skin
Faecal (microbiota) transplants
Appendix B: Smoking
Appendix C: Detoxing
Cultural and historical background
Detoxing - the Chinese medicine perspective
Appendix D: Chinese science
The validity of traditional knowledge
Chinese science and technology
Why was Chinese science so advanced?
Some examples from Chinese medical history
Appendix E: A brief history of Chinese health exercise
Appendix F: A final word - spirituality
Glossary of key terms
|Publication Date||1 Jan 1970|
|Publisher||The Journal of Chinese Medicine Ltd.|
|Number of Pages||440|
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