Life is full of surprises and mystery, I found myself lost, I was due to meet Peter the author of Live Well, Live Long in 10 minutes time from this moment and I thought I would do a last minute check using Google Maps to make sure I was heading in the right direction, the result of the search threw me into confusion and panic it had concluded I was at the wrong end of the city, how could this be? It turned out that I had instructed Google maps to find a street instead of a road, but I was not to know this and could not remember if I was looking for a street or a road, I had no choice I had to trust I was in the right place and something from inside of me said, well you’re here now you may as well knock on the door and see who’s in.
I had found the right place I can again happily take part in the mystery and unfolding of life, I now found myself sitting in Peters garden enjoying a summers day, it was time to get the low down on his new book Live Well, Live Long.
The book itself concentrates on the promotion of Yangshen, which is the tradition of nourishing life, this traditional Chinese practice and way of life has stood the test of time being passed on from generation to generation for over 2 millennia, which cannot be said for most of the known world where medical practices have changed dramatically through the same time period. Nothing in the book is conjecture, it is a mix of the traditional practices with peer reviewed studies and research to both confirm the validity of the practices explained and to offer insight into why it works from a western perspective.
It is almost impossible to tell you what the book is or is not, it is one of those books you need to read and experience for yourself because it is ultimately the experience of the continued practice that contains the real insight into the teachings offered in Peter’s book, however we can have a sneak look at the angles it is taking.
One such angle is exercise, which we can look at from a movement perspective, movement is multifaceted, movement is life, when water stops moving it stagnates, you are mainly water and therefore you to are susceptible to the same fate, but the type of movement one practices will have a profound impact on how one experiences the motion of the physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional.
Peter mentions how spiralling movements from the core and never to 100% full extension are preferred and become sensitive to your fascia movement, that caught me of guard, I had not thought of movement from the perspective of our fascia tissue and for those who are not into anatomy and physiology fascia tissue is hard, it gives very little in the way of flexibility and yet provides everything as it could be argued its what keeps us together, it is actually one completely connected piece of tissue running from the tip of your toes to the tip of your tongue, like other tissues in the body it to is subject to change and injury depending on how we move, but to mention that we should move and become aware of our fascia tissue movement is essentially encouraging us to go deep inside and really connect to the feeling of the movement and not get distracted with the aesthetic.
The following passage explains the books movement philosophy beautifully.
“For all [to practice] this way, you must coil, contract, you must unveil, you must expand. You must be firm; you must be regular in this practice. Hold fast to this excellent practice, do not let go of it.”
In the above all is simply explained, it explores coiling, which can be of course spiralling, it explores regular continued practice, it encourages you to contract to pull inwards, but then unveil and release this contraction through perhaps physical or any artistic expression into the external world.
Another angle the book takes is that of internal experience, in order to experience your fascia tissue connection for example you are going to have to go deep inside because it is not something you can see externally, as you become sensitive to your movement from a physical perspective you will naturally be drawn deeper into the internal world,
Peter has outlined 3 core principles in his book, which look to take a person deeper into this internal world.
1. Yin Yang Harmony – through regular practice this continually deepens and works towards balance and the middle way.
2. Free Flow – health is what flows freely, laughter, happiness, tea and sex all are examples of free flowing health.
3. Follow nature – this is achieved through observation, observe what is, empty the mind of what it thinks it knows, the magic is lost in labels that define something as known, instead simply observe and then follow.
These are simple but not easy principles and Peter mentioned that they form a relationship with 4 important pillars, all 4 need to be equally strong, those 4 pillars are:
1. Mind and Emotions
Peter explained that it’s common to place emphasis on just one pillar, for example you may find you exercise often, but pay no attention to your nutrition, ultimately this is imbalance. When explaining this theory of 4 pillars Peter used the example of a table, a table stands strong when all 4 legs are equally supporting it, however if one or two legs break or are missing we all know what happens to the tabletop.
The table top example is a great way for us to have a look at our lives and see where the balance and imbalances are, through this observation we can take action to rebalance the table top where necessary and that’s what cultivating our minds, bodies, emotions, sleep and nutrition all lead to Yangshen a nourishing life.
When I asked Peter what is the essence of his book? What is it that you want people to take from this book? He paused for a moment and then explained, if disease has already set in, then it’s to late to build the well, the patient is already thirsty.
Peter will be at the Brighthelm Church and Community Centre, United Reformed Church, North Road, Brighton on 18 June from 6 – 7.30pm for the Live Well Live Long Book Launch.
About the author
Peter Deadman has studied, practised, written about and taught Chinese medicine and health cultivation traditions for over 45 years.
About the book
Peter’s latest book Live well, Live Long explores the Chinese tradition of nourishing life (yangshen), this nourishment is achieved through the cultivation of our mind, emotions, diet, exercise, sleep, sexual behaviour and much more.
The book ultimately serves as a manual and guide to achieve the above, it is well sourced and researched, containing multiple references to modern day research, which supports the guidelines and practices that are set out in Live Well, Live Long.