This was before the age of mp3 players. I would walk with only with the thoughts in my mind. After a while, I would have an experience that would repeat itself each time I walked home. My mind would quiet down. I would feel an interesting kind of stillness. My mind would be quiet and I felt connected to something indescribable, but pleasant. I remember liking this experience, and how it was different from anything else.
In my late teens, I was drawn to reading about eastern spirituality. One of the first books I read was Alan Watts, The Way of Zen. In this book, he mentioned a kind of stillness that came from meditation. It seemed to be similar to my experience. I began to use yoga exercises and mediation to create more of that experience.
In my early 20’s, I started to dabble in vegetarian eating. Some of the yoga books that I was reading recommended this to promote the elevated consciousness that I had read about and was seeking.
I should note that I was an eat everything cheese and wine, junk foods vegetarian. At a friend’s house, I discovered a book on how to apply the eastern philosophy of balance to support consciousness. The author recommended no dairy foods, meats, or animal foods. The diet that he recommended had cooked grains, and vegetables, some fish and fruit, some oriental seasonings such as miso and soy sauce.
I began to eat that way. After a few days, I noticed that whole world looked brighter. I felt a kind of high with a very uplifted experience. A short while later I began to study with some teachers from the East. I was learning about food, healing and natural healing techniques. My main teacher studied with the author of the book I had read.
During this time, I continued to practice yoga and meditation. I learned about exercises to transform the body and mind from Japan called Do-in and chanting. I felt a positive experience of increasing my awareness and affecting my consciousness in a positive way from these practices.
10 years into my dietary explorations, I noticed that mentally, I still felt uplifted, but physically my energy was lousy. None of the teachers, the eastern ones or their long time students could answer to my satisfaction why this was happening. They had no answers. I began to go to the sources of my teacher’s teachings from the Far East for answers. Along the way, I studied teachings from both east and west about health, food and consciousness.
I learned that all the traditional eastern teachings of food had roots in Shamanic teachings. Shamans were the medicine men and women of cultures before civilization. They were the doctors of both the body and mind. Their teachings were incorporated into the health and consciousness teachings of India in the yoga system and in Chinese medicine through chi gung, meditation, healing foods and herbal traditions.
I found the teachings of different cultures divided foods into two categories: foods that were grounding and foods that were activating the system. Balancing these two qualities of foods creates both health and elevates consciousness. If only foods that activate the body and mind are eaten then the body, mind and consciousness become weak. If only foods, that ground the body are eaten, the body, mind and consciousness becomes stagnant.
From this view, I learned that sugar, a very strong activating food, can create weakness if over consumed, while the over consumption of meat and animal foods can create stagnation. I learned that all of the indigenous cultures had a Shamanic or energetic understanding of foods. Natural animal foods were valued for their grounding effects on the body and mind. I discovered that this was what was missing in my diet.
After slowly adding natural animal foods to my daily eating, I noticed the powerful grounding and strengthening effects. The renewed energy inspired me to seek other Shamanic practices. I started practicing the ancient Taoist Shamanic practices of chi gung. I noticed their powerful effects on physical, mental and spiritual health.
Reflecting on my experiences made me come to a realization. All the practices of yoga, food, chi gung and chanting with their Shamanic roots had a common purpose. That purpose is to reconnect us to nature through the quieting and balancing of the body and mind.
As I studied more, I realized that the Taoist Shamans, had many more connections about how food influenced consciousness, and can lead to greater levels of well being and expanded awareness. Over the years of teaching these ideas about food to thousands of people, I became convinced of their powerful effects on aiding the growth of awareness through all the positive changes that I saw in people that I gave natural health consultations and taught classes to.
Although food is not the only way to influence consciousness, it is foundational. All Shamanic rooted cultures understood this basic idea about food being the root of wellness. Today, there is much confusion about what to eat. After studying and teaching for many years, traditional food ways seem to me to be the foundation for our complete well being. For those who want to learn more, there are ways. The Shamanic understanding of food is deep, but even a basic understanding can create great transformations for our physical body and consciousness.