Chewing – A Gift From God (Part 1)

This is an article written by Macrobiotic teacher, Dean Cooling, who has compiled his personal research to tell us how chewing helps us achieve a healthy body, a clear mind and a free spirit. Here is the first part. – Kayu.

And when you eat, have above you the angel of air, and below you the angel of water. Breathe long and deeply at all your meals, that the angel of air may bless your repasts. And chew well your food with your teeth, that it becomes water, and that the angel of water turns it into blood in your body. And eat slowly, as if it were a prayer you make to the Lord. For I tell you truly the power of God enters into you if you eat after this manner at his table.

These simple yet profound words, attributed to Jesus Christ, were translated from an ancient manuscript from the Essenes who were an ascetic group that renounced possessions and practiced vegetarianism, prayer and fasting. It is thought that Jesus spent some time with the Essenes teaching them how to commune with God.

I once shared in a closing circle of a health retreat that emphasized balanced food and thorough chewing as a way to be well, that chewing really isn’t about chewing. It’s about happiness. To the outsider, those at the dining table may have appeared to be seriously fixated on the practice of chewing for its own sake. When in fact it’s the outcome of chewing that is the prize they were seeking.

It is my sincere hope that this article may draw attention to the benefits of a predominantly wholegrain, vegetable and legume diet. Equally though, it is my hope that some people will reap the very real benefits that flow from adopting thorough chewing as part of a routine practice.

One of the great ladies of modern macrobiotics, Aveline Kushi, once said that chewing is so simple it can easily be overlooked. Its usefulness can go unappreciated because it is so mundane. We do it every day – we have to. I can attest to this way of thinking. Chewing can easily be submerged in the events and commitments that each day brings. When I do chew well though, it can be dramatic. It can be mind altering, particularly if one is using the unique energy of whole grains to transform consciousness.

Theory without its practical application is useless. You have to apply an idea to derive benefit from it, otherwise it’s just entertainment. What follows is the theory and story about chewing. I hope it spurs the reader on to confirm the ideas presented.

The Japanese words kami (chewing) also shares the same pronounciation as the word for God or Divine Spirit. It could be said that the practice of chewing can bring us closer to God and the realization of our true spirit. But before explaining the fascinating spiritual benefits of chewing, here are several potent reasons to chew for physical and mental well-being.

Lino Stanchich, a senior macrobiotic educator, has made a very valuable contribution to this subject by writing a comprehensive book titled: Power Eating Program – You Are How You Eat. Lino says the strongest animals in the world – the ox, bull, elephant, and buffalo are all plant eaters that chew their food very well. Lino tells an interesting story as to how his attention was first brought to this life-enhancing practice. In 1943, his father was taken prisoner in Greece by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp in Germany. The camp was connected to a factory where all the prisoners were forced to do hard labour. Says Lino: winters were freezing, clothing was inadequate, and the food was poor. The extreme conditions forced Lino’s father, Antonio, to develop the practice of chewing his meagre food ration very well.

Most of Antonio’s fellow prisoners thought his practice of chewing each mouthful 100 to 200 times was ridiculous. But Antonio found that chewing more gave him more energy and made him warmer. He managed to convince two friends to join his chewing sessions. When he was liberated in 1945 he was skinny but alive, writes Lino. And of the ship’s crew of 32 who were captured and sent to the concentration camp, only 3 survived – Lino’s father and his two friends who practiced chewing with him.

Antonio related his experience to Lino after his return home and expressed to his son – “If you are ever weak, cold, or sick, chew each mouthful 150 times or more.” As Lino tells in his book, this advice was to save his life when he was in a similar situation. In 1949, while trying to flee Yugoslavia, Lino was captured and sentenced to two years’ hard labour. He resorted to his father’s chewing method and, as well as giving him the energy to survive the harsh conditions, it also markedly increased his courage and confidence.

George Ohsawa, founding father of modern-day macrobiotics, credits chewing with saving his life. By thorough chewing Ohsawa was able to get the maximum from a starvation diet after being imprisoned in Japan during World War II for his peace activities.

Chew your drink, And drink your food. – Mahatma Gandhi

In the next blog post we will continue reading Dean’s article as it focuses on the physiological and spiritual rationale for chewing. Thanks to Dean from allowing me to post his article here. I hope you enjoyed it and would love to hear any comments you may have.