Here is a letter that we received from a recent graduate.
The graduate program on spiritual development and ki sounded like a wonderful luxury, but on a practical level my life had gotten so busy that to go develop diagnosis skills seemed almost decadent. After all, I don't counsel and this summer I probably won't teach cooking. A dear friend mentioned she was going and I thought "Wonderful, I can't wait to hear what you learn!" Then another dear friend had the wild idea that she might just come (five hours of driving, three children under the age of nine . . .) and I heard myself say "You must come! There is always a way!" The least I could do then was to try to make it, I decided, thinking it would be very interesting to attend.
Time passed and the day came and all three of us somehow arrived. The funny thing now is to remember that it was ever even a question. For each of us, the places in life where we had gotten stuck, spinning our own wheels, with varying degrees of comfort, resignation and despair, all got addressed on a very deep level. Where we felt heavy, we now feel light. The places where we felt locked in feel like open fields. I am speaking about aspects of daily practice which had gotten subtly off, and which we couldn't quite catch ourselves, but the results of which we certainly could feel (children falling out of high trees, splitting open their knees, irritable husbands, etc.) Eating Susan's sweet cooking, delicate, strong and light, opened up our eyes. The company of like-minded classmates was also very nourishing. One of us came home having decided to start dance classes, after years of taking care exclusively of her children and husband and home. Another is bursting with ideas about macrobiotics and how to grow this movement. I am looking into doing a kind of theater which I never would have considered but even the thought of which makes me feel energized and happy. Before the seminar I was happy but dragging my feet.
On Friday night we did introductions and reports of out macrobiotic practices and work, then heard a lecture by Denny on integrity and honesty in macrobiotic teaching and counseling. We explored questions such as whether integrity is innate or learned and whether or not it can be developed. We discussed what lies are and their different types: white lies (to protect others) and bigger lies (to protect the self) and the biggest lie of all, a life lie: living at odds with your deepest values and who you really are.
The next morning we had cooking class with Susan. Her accuracy and subtlety brought home the power of food. Again, in little ways, I had been slipping and sliding, but when I re-encountered her high standard, I saw new ways to grow my life. I also realized I have been oversalting our food and learned a lighter way of making sweet vegetable soup which was very delicious. We made our own maki rolls for lunch and it was wonderful to have all the ingredients prepared and laid out for us, and to see all how others made theirs.
Patrick Riley gave a dynamic and energetic class on tsubos, power points along shiatsu meridians, and how to use them to alleviate pain. We considered maladies in terms of the five transformations, as well as the parts of the body, and which tsubos correspond to them. The class was so hands-on that even after hours of non-stop and rather rigorous and original lecturing, Patrick went around to make sure each of us had the point correctly, and if we didn't he showed us. He gave so much to help us understand. We also discussed the need to bring esoteric macrobiotic philosophical or spiritual ideas into regular language understandable by anyone.
We had a beautiful dinner, and in the evening, Denny gave a lecture on the question of whether or not there is a "healing diet" in macrobiotics. It was decided that the word "appropriate" or "accurate" is far better. A healing diet implies that one must DO something in order to get healthy. It gives the wrong impression of macrobiotic food. A healing diet sounds like a problem, something strict, instead of relaxed, enjoyable and delicious.
Denny explained that the intention in recovery is to recover personal health, but once healthy, the point of daily macrobiotic practice is other people's health. We also spoke of how the uniqueness of macrobiotics is that what we do for ourselves also helps others. It was characteristically profound and life-changing.
On Sunday morning we had a beautiful do-in class led by Susan. We did maka-ho exercises and many of us expressed the wish to stretch in such a way in daily life. It was so good to feel and do these simple exercises again. Afterward, we chanted as a group, and then with Denny practiced our ability to diagnose auras. We took turns coming up before the group and practicing our ability to receive information and ideas. We came up with marvelous suggestions, which is how my friend came to be signing up for dance classes and I for this acting group, something I wouldn't have dreamed of doing but now can't wait for.
My friends and I came away more refreshed, inspired and invigorated than we could have imagined during those sleepy telephone calls. We are set right again, full of gratitude to Denny, Susan and the SHI.