Here is most of an email I sent to a friend today, discussing energy, diets, and our perception that life is the best it has ever been today.
I don't blame you for feeling annoyed with the energy workshops you attended. I would also find it really pretty unbelievable to hear people oohing and ahhing about seeing energy coming out of the end of a stick. I don't doubt that it is there, but I think that it would be a lot better to ask what everyone feels or senses from the object rather than leap right into "what do you see - oh I do too!" It's the problem I have with new agey groups in general that they seem to "see" a lot of stuff but get no substance out of it.
If you are unable to see energy, I think that is pretty much the norm. I sometimes do, but it is not a physical eye-sight kind of seeing so much as a way I describe what I sense about an object or person. It can seem to be a distortion in the space around a person or object, but often it is easier to do with closed eyes, anyway. What I liked about class is that so far it has been emphasized that we don't need to look, and feeling is better. KaiCho also stresses that neither he nor anyone else can teach you how to feel, it is just something you have to try and do again and again to gain facility with it, and to gain better nuances in it.
The meridians are fascinating to me. I want to learn more about them and how they are associated with the different elements and organs. This kind of energy description has weight to me because of the history to it. It is not something just invented, but seems instead to have been an understanding discovered and perfected over hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. It feels like a truth about existence that has been forgotten as we moved further out of our bodies and into our heads. When only logic and thinking is important, the rest of the organs seem to not matter at all or only be cursory building blocks that allow us to exist. We feel that we are brains that unfortunately have to deal with bodies, and we hate when they start to dysfunction or go wrong. Most people are annoyed to ever have to think about their bodies. We have diets and physicals and all sorts of things we speak of with dread. We don't think to tend to ourselves as a whole, because we just think way too much. Or at least, that's been my own experience that I am slowly shaking off.
Worry for our parents seems to be universal. In part it may be fear for ourselves. I don't want to fall into the pattern you described of taking pills and having surgeries in order to survive old age. It is what I see around me, though, and the path my parents have found themselves on. What frightens me is that my father appeared to be taking great care of himself this whole time and still has had a few angioplasties and is on high blood pressure medication. His drinking may have been what did him in, or his stress (which led to the drinking), or both combined made it worse. My mother has been a disaster as far back as I can remember. Repressed emotions would be her downfall as well, I suspect, and I don't want to follow her footsteps. Arthritis, auto-immune problems, struggle with weight and heart and liver. I could see myself slipping into the same patterns that have brought them where they are today and wanted to bolt. As I am healing myself, I want to share my insights, but find it awkward to bring up. Would they even hear it? True healing needs to come from oneself. And it is slow. I am hopeful that I started early enough in my life that I have time to counter the bad habits and actually get to a place of healthy balance before I would have been stuck permanently in a battle against symptoms, with no chance of rectifying the underlying problems.
I'm proud of the work you have done on yourself, that you have managed to discover and stick to a way of eating and taking care of your body that you find natural and enjoyable and that makes you feel healthy and good. I am discovering my own way of doing this, and will likely come to many of the same conclusions you have. An optimal diet, when the word is used to refer to a style of eating rather than a regimen of counted calories and denied intake, is probably pretty similar among all humans when we listen to what our body actually wants and needs. And as I try to listen more to my body I find it wants more movement, more exercise, and I am finding ways to provide that which I enjoy and can make a part of fun living rather than a chore done to stave off doctor appointments. People need actual grown food and light and air and water and movement. It's amazing to me as I am waking up how much these basic needs are denied, ignored, or warped to excess in modern culture. It has become an effort to implement them! How horrible for humanity that we have made it difficult to thrive and tell ourselves that this is the best it has ever been. It seems like the greatest lie we could tell ourselves, and a great disservice to our ancestors to believe it is true.
I think that because this lie is so great, we make a great effort to reinforce it by telling stories of how hard life was even one hundred years ago. We speak about how people rarely lived past thirty or forty years old only two or three hundred years ago, how they worked in misery and were malnourished. How they had little privilege and weren't able to enjoy as much free time as we do. If that is so, why are the buildings, art, ceremonies and clothing of past eras so much more intricate and enduring than those we create now? How did people who were malnourished, exhausted, uneducated, overworked and without medical advancements able to build cultures, empires, architecture and languages that outlast even a telephone built in the last ten years? This is not just the product of a few privileged minds using slave labor to manifest their brilliant plans. It cannot be. The obvious truth staring at us shows that our ancestors were far from stupid unfortunate cogs in a machine hoping for a scrap of free time and transcendence from their miserable lives. These people were brilliant, skilled artisans, thoughtful philosophers and mathematicians, scientists and master gardeners. The average layperson of two hundred years ago had more knowledge of how to grow and cook food, build furniture and houses,and invent new and fun games than the average layperson today. Our insistence that technology is the answer to every problem is leading to a terrifying dependence on machines even to think for us.
Becoming in touch with our own bodies is an important step to remembering what it is to be human. As we realize that we are more than just thoughts, and that there is more we require to feel healthy and happy than just objects and the latest cool thing on the store shelves, we can find it easier to disengage from mother culture and make choices that make more sense. We can step off of the hamster wheel and see a little more clearly. We can see that we want to think about how to eat and solve every problem with more rules instead of just feeling and choosing what is right for us. Most of us see that we aren't healthy and then think about which diet to choose to fix it instead of asking ourselves what we feel would help or make us feel better. When we pick and choose someone else's diet, we even praise the inventor of that plan as a great thinker. We have forgotten that it's even possible to think for ourselves, let alone use any faculty other than thought to solve a problem we are facing!
Anyway, I went off on a tangent there. :P Thinking is the biggest habit of mine. I like to think out and communicate all of these insights I am starting to tap into. They might not all even be accurate to reality, but it's like coming out of a fog as I notice more and more about how I live and how the people around me are living.