Monthly Archives: September 2013

Improve your health – try the 40-day method

On a rational level most of us are aware that we have our health under control by exercising regularly, eating the right foods and avoiding negative stress.

So why do we have such great difficulty in just doing what makes us feel better mentally and physically in extending our lifespan and overall quality of life.


Let us look at 54-year-old Harry. His wife has chased him to a doctor after many hours of persuasive argument. The doctor does some check-ups and tells Harry. “Look your cholesterol levels, blood sugar level and blood pressure are way above average. You need to change something…”


Harry of course ignores the doctors warning. “You only live once. We all have to die some day. You won’t stop me from having my smoke, enjoying my Big Mac and a good beer after work.” Some years go by. At the age of 60 Harry has double by-pass surgery to his heart and is diagnosed with diabetes. Two years later he has a stroke, is confined to a wheel chair and is forced to go into early retirement with his poor wife also having to give-up her job to take care of him.


All of us know at least one such scenario in our own family or among close friends. The food we eat, the amount of exercise we give our bodies and the balance we find between activity and rest will especially determine the quality of life you lead as you get older. So how do we motivate ourselves to do that which makes us simply enjoy life a lot more. In my previous blog I referred to the phenomenon of self-mutilation that seems prevalent among so many young folk these days. Well older folk don’t seem much better in the way they treat their bodies like machines that just need to function. If the body starts faltering, you just take some pills to keep going.


So lets get to the point. Some religions have the tradition of fasting over 40 days to detox the body both physically and spiritually. They found that such a timespan is necessary to feel a significant change taking place. In some Buddhist traditions Mantras are recited every day at a certain time over a 40-day period.


Most people have great difficulty and find they need enormous self-discipline to integrate an exercise programme in their daily routine, especially if you come home in the evening with everyone from the dog to the children demanding attention. Here are some ways of getting around those barriers:


  • Find a fixed time during the day where you are really alone and undisturbed to do your exercise routine. My wife Alyce and I have found the ideal time at 6 am in the morning. That hour of exercise in yoga, taiji and meditation gives us much more energy for the day’s challenges than that extra hour of sleep.


  • Choose an exercise routine that fits your personality and that you really enjoy.


  • Choose your food wisely. We are really what we eat. Without going into any dogma a good mixture of vegetables, fruit and a little meat or fish will do it. Ban white sugars and industrial salts from your diet.


  • Find a friend, a family member, colleagues or an exercise group so that you are not alone. We are social animals and can give each other enormous motivational support.


  • Try and keep up the routine for at least 40 days. It is the time your body needs to adapt to the change. After this time you will feel a change taking place.



You will start feeling a positive mental and physical change taking place. You will become a lot happier because you simply will start feeling much better in your body.



More information on the Five Elements in my book “Yield and Overcome”:


What is the Dan Tien:



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An alien pondering on strange behaviour

I sometimes wonder what a higher being or “alien” would be thinking in observing the strange goings on of those humans down there.


We believe us to be at the top of the evolutionary ladder with creative minds that bring forth more inventions and technical revolutions than any generation before. Where a few years ago we had to spend hours in the library to get the information we needed, we now have it at the tips of our fingers via smart phone.


Our 12-year-old daughter just argued with me on why she didn’t need to learn certain things at school. “One day if I might need the information I could just google it,” was her response. Strange world indeed when I consider that I grew up in rural South Africa and had my first glimpse of TV when I was 18.


I sometimes wonder however, whether this information overload is not doing more harm than good. A lot of kids seem to have great difficulty in “feeling” who they really are. As teenagers we had our forms of protest against the adult world with bell-bottoms jeans, long hair and turning up the volume of Boston or Pink Floyd. The thought would never have crossed our mind to practise the form self-mutilation currently going around.


Many a beautiful young body is being scarred for life. Often the cuttings and piercings are found on energy points (acupuncture points and meridians) that have serious long-term health effects if you look at it from a Chinese medicine perspective. Doctors are increasingly treating young patients with serious infections caused by this “fashionable trend.” One young lad literally had to be told by a doctor that his penis would “rot and fall off” if the piercing was not immediately removed and the wound treated professionally.


Self-mutilation is intrinsically linked to the issue of self-worth. How do I feel in my body? Am I proud of who I am? Do I feel and look good? Am I beautiful or ugly, fat, too big or too small? I am not surprised that many young girls are cutting themselves if their world revolves around wanting to be like those sexy, super slim ideal models staring at them from every Super Model contest and glossy magazine. Its a battle they just can’t win!


I have been talking against a wall, telling our daughter that what she is looking at is a surreal world of make-believe, that these models spend hours being manicured in studios, the pics photo-shopped or manipulated in many other ways to fit the latest trend.


In these times it is crucial to give our children the tools to remain “grounded”. I am a firm proponent of limiting the time children spend on computer games, smart phones and television per day. Obviously this is a constant battleground. But we are sticking to our guns including compulsory gardening work on weekends – sorry all you so-called progressive parents – I am really old fashioned here.


From the perspective of the Five Elements we are looking at the Element Earth which is perhaps the most important of the elements (the others being metal, water, wood and fire). Spending too much time on electronic media especially weakens the earth element. On an emotional level it can lead to preoccupation with “things” that only fulfil our needs at a very superficial level – leaving us with an empty feeling in the stomach.


In Chinese literature the partner organ to the stomach – the spleen – is often described as the “residence” of the thought and thinking process that has enormous influence on our concentration and learning capability. Chronic fatigue and low energy levels are some of the physical symptoms of a weakened spleen. In the body arts we are talking about the lower or first Dan Tien – the major energy centre of the body where our life-force is centred. Muck around with it too much and you are reducing your life-span and life-quality time.



More information on the Five Elements in my book “Yield and Overcome”:


What is the Dan Tien:



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If you are trul…

Foto 02.05.12 15 08 10

If you are truly present and know how to take care of the present moment as best you can, you are doing your best for your future. The same is true about the past. The teaching and the practice of mindfulness do not forbid looking deeply into the past. But if we allow ourselves to drown in regret and sorrow concerning the past, that’s not mindfulness – Thich Nhat Hanh

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by | September 16, 2013 · 11:22 am

Pain – Let it pass through

I am just reading a fascinating book by Michael A. Singer “The Untethered Soul”. He goes much into why we get stuck in pain by the things that hurt us. Here is a quote that I would like to share:

“If life does something that causes a disturbance inside of you, instead of pulling away, let it pass through you like the wind. After all, things happen every day that cause inner disturbance… If you want to be free, you have to learn to stop fighting those human feelings. When you feel pain simply view it as energy.

This goes much in line with the yin-yang philosophy which teaches us to accept that we live in a world of polarity. There will always be good and there will always be bad. There will always be moments of happiness and moments of sadness.

In practising Taiji we learn to stay grounded and aligned by never confronting the force that comes at us with the same energy. If you resist you will lose your balance. If you soften your body if a hard force comes at you, you will win the battle.

Singer writes that every time you relax and release a pain inside your heart and actually dare to face it, it will pass.  It will be released and open up your heart and emotional body to new and more powerful energy…

More on yin and yang:
My book “Yield and Overcome”:

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