My Chewing Bliss Experience or How to Keep Warm in the Berkshires of Massachusetts
After reading the article by Tonya Zavasta (click on the pictures of Tonya on the right-hand side of the page to go to her website) in her May 2013 email newsletter entitled, “Practice This and Raw Success is Imminent,” I had to add my 2 cents or maybe 3 depending on how important you feel chewing your food/drink really is! Tonya mentioned a man named Lino Stanchich. It is amazing how those that love to do research (Tonya, for sure and I do the same) can find information that is very helpful to us in our journey in life – in whatever avenue you are studying.
I first began my journey to a healthy lifestyle in the Fall of 1990 by way of my friend, Eli Goldschmidt, who introduced me to macrobiotics by way of the book his aunt, Elaine Nussbaum wrote, called Recovery from Cancer. A few years later after graduating from college and already incorporating macrobiotics in my life (I have been vegan since 1991), I decided to get some formal education and studied at the Kushi Institute in Becket, MA.
I arrived in September 1993 and the weather was still very nice and balmy, but living in the Berkshires, it would eventually get very cold with snow that remains for months. One of my favorite teachers there was Lino Stanchich. This man has a “large” presence and the sweetest disposition. He is strong physically and speaks from his heart. He radiates a wonderful balance between the physical and spiritual. I liked him immediately and I developed a wonderful connection with him.
As Tonya indicated in the article, Lino’s father, Antonio, survived a Nazi concentration camp because he chewed his meager ration of food, as well as, his water. Lino told us that his father discovered that chewing his water not only quenched his thirst, it also gave him more energy. He shared it with other friends and most thought he was crazy and chose to “inhale” their food, but two people adhered to his instructions. When they were liberated, only Antonio and his two friends survived because of their practice of chewing.
There is actually more to the story, as told by Lino in one of our classes. Lino, himself, was in a labor camp later in years and always remembered how his father survived the concentration camp. Of course, he never practiced chewing his food before because he didn’t feel the necessity. Now, since his life was at stake, he knew that he had to follow his guiding light, his father, Antonio.
I remember Lino telling us that they could receive a small parcel and his mom sent him onions, salt and bread. Most times the packages were stolen, but who would want to take these things? As it so happens, Lino always received them. This was in addition to the rations that were provided. He chewed his food and water just as his father had done, 150 times or more per mouthful. In addition to that he closed his eyes while chewing and realized it strengthened him even more. From his experiences in the camp Lino became a tough man. When he came home his brother told him that if he would see him walking down a dark alley he would have given over his wallet without being asked. Lino had this “presence” that seemed fierce like a lion ready to attack.
In sharing this story, Lino wanted to impart on us the importance of chewing your food and drink (sounds like it would be hard to chew your liquid, but it is actually possible/doable and takes practice). To takes this message further, he decided to have a “Chewing Class.”
This is where the article continues from Tonya Zavasta’s site – if you read the first part of it there.
I remember that his class took place in the evening and the weather was already getting chilly outside (this point is key for what happens later). Lino had for each student a small tea cup filled with cooked brown rice. His instructions to us were to take the amount of rice equal to an inch long and put it in our mouth and chew it. He set a timer, I believe for 1 minute, and we were to count how many times we chewed that small morsel of rice before swallowing it.
It was hard at first to chew that tiny bit of rice many times without swallowing it right away. As I continued to do it, I found that I was able to keep chewing for much longer by keeping the rice closer to the front of my mouth. When you chew grains, such as rice for 100’s of times per bite and the ptyalin (definition: A form of amylase in the saliva of humans and some animals that catalyzes the hydrolysis of starch into maltose and dextrin) in your mouth gets mixed with it, the grain becomes sweet like sugar and it is almost too sweet and hard to swallow (I experienced that). Another important point is that when food is chewed into a liquid form in the mouth (which is truly where the digestion begins) it is already broken down and can be absorbed readily into the body.
After we completed eating our small teacup of rice and the class was over, I felt much different then I ever had before. I was not hungry, for one, but more importantly, I had an internal warmth inside of me that I never experienced before. I walked outside without a jacket/coat and did not feel cold for even a second. It was amazing! Not only that, but it so happened that, that night was a full lunar eclipse and I stayed up most of the night to see it (living up in the mountains in Western Massachusetts there is no light pollution and you can see every star, satellites, shooting stars, etc with such luminescence, definition and brilliance that it takes your breath away and it is truly a miracle of G-d) and went out continually without any need, other then the clothes I was wearing.
To take it one more step, I decided to continue the experiment and would eat all 3 meals a day in a quiet area and consciously chewed. I don’t remember how long I kept this up, but the results were visible. For one, I noticed that I filled up my plate with a lot of food and as the days went by, I would eat less and less, as I chewed more and more. The satiation point for our body is approximately 20 minutes and then the need to eat goes away. If you don’t chew the food well you will still feel hungry because you are not absorbing properly. By chewing so diligently, I was always full sooner and ate much less (most people tend to overeat anyway, so this is a great experiment to see for yourself how much food you really need).
Another result I noticed was that I was much more calm and serene since I took the time to eat with intention. It became a meditative experience. The final result was one that others told me because I could not “see” it for myself. I don’t remember how many days it was into my experiment (I would have to check the journal I kept, but I don’t know where it is, at the moment), but other students and people who would there started to notice a glow/aura around my body that radiated outward. I shared with them what I had been doing and it definitely made a difference to them so perhaps they would try it, as well.
Now you see the power of chewing, both from someone who had to do it out of sheer will to survive (Antonio and his son, Lino) and myself, who choose to do it and experienced such dramatic and profound results. I challenge you to try this for yourself, even for one meal. Put a timer on for 1 minute and put a small amount of food on your fork/spoon and see how many times you can chew it. Do this as many times until you feel full. I know it will be difficult at first, so persevere and know it will be beneficial to you in the end.
I hope the world is never going to be in a state where we will need to chew our food/water very well in order to survive, so don’t wait for that, do it because you’ll thrive! I want to thank G-d for bringing me this wonderful teacher and many others, as well. I will treasure the time I spent in Becket as it has given me the foundation for where I am today!
Update to my experience with chewing written on December 30, 2013:
I was looking through some of my notes from when I studies at the Kushi Institute in 1993 and found the Journal that I kept on a daily basis. On the daily dairy for 10/12/1993, I wrote about the experience with chewing, as follows: Class with Lino about chewing – even though was in it Level One (this is Level Two), it’s good, anyway, to do it again with a group. Afterwards went for a walk outside (at night). It felt cold at first. I found my gloves on the floor when I put my shoes on. I wasn’t cold at all! I even took my gloves off half-way through. Air nice and clean. Felt energized and wonderful. When I chewed the rice, did it 3 times for 1 minute each time, using only 1 inch of rice. Each time chewed progressively more: 210, 220 and 385 times. I was so warm and my hands were not cold at all! Couldn’t believe it was only 44 degrees Fahrenheit!