The Rice House
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep." ---Robert Frost
About Sheldon and Ginat
Ginat began practicing macrobiotics in Jerusalem in 1980 following seven years of vegetarian and vegan living in Israel and her native US. By 1982 she had completed all three levels of study at the Kushi Institute, the world’s leading center of macrobiotic studies, located in Brookline, MA. She scribed for health consultations conducted by Michio Kushi, the leading international expert in macrobiotic practice and traveled with the Kushi Institute’s cook referral service to cook and care for clients. She co-owned and managed Satori Natural Foods Restaurant, in Boston, MA for ten years. Ginat graduated from the Kushi Institute’s Level IV study program of advanced counselor training and holds their certification as Macrobiotic Teacher and Counselor. She is also certified in shiatsu massage therapy, and practices Nine Star Ki (Asian astrology) and palmistry.
Ginat and Sheldon are frequent contributors to Macrobiotics Today magazine. Ginat has written for Non Credo e-zine, lectured at the Kushi Institute summer conference, the French Meadows Summer Camp in California, the One World Festival in England, the Pacific Macrobiotic Conference and numerous macrobiotic seminars in Israel. She is currently writing a book compiling three years of research and interviews on the topics of understanding of health and recovery from illness.
Sheldon discovered macrobiotics in 1984 during a 10-year hiatus in the US after moving to Israel in 1964. He soon realized the effect of fifty years of a standard American diet and lifestyle as his weight plummeted uncontrollably and doctors discovered a tumor between his bladder and spine. Careful macrobiotic practice for many years without medical intervention reversed the condition completely, and today he enjoys full health. Sheldon specializes in numerology, teaching and consulting internationally. He is the author of Getting to Know You: A Numerology Textbook, and is currently working on a second volume of numerological research. Seventy three years of life wisdom make him a compassionate and knowledgeable guide on the macrobiotic path.
Both Sheldon and Ginat have the particular wisdom that comes with self-healing. They founded the Rice House of Macrobiotic Study as a home-based consulting practice offering a wide range of macrobiotic, numerology, nine star ki, palmistry, shiatsu, and life coaching services. These include health consultations, cooking lessons, and study courses in macrobiotic theory, health diagnosis, shiatsu, and palm healing. They offer a residential experience of macrobiotic living in a comprehensive program of learning and practice. Sheldon offers personal and group numerology readings, and classes in numerology training.
We support the stated mission of the Kushi Institute: “To teach, guide and inspire individuals towards greater personal freedom, health, happiness and peace by using the principles of macrobiotics.” This has been our life goal and passion for over 25 years, from the time we each discovered the macrobiotic way of life.
“It can’t happen to me.” So I thought when I developed breast cancer in April, 1999. I had been practicing macrobiotics devotedly and guiding others in this way of life for over twenty years, advising people daily how to deal with the illness I now manifested. Imagine my shock when I felt a small lump on my breast. I instinctively felt that it might be a big lesson for me, but I didn’t know how to make it happen.
I consulted with my macrobiotic advisor who saw no reason for concern. When the area began to hurt, I arranged for a medical examination. Palpations and a mammogram proved inconclusive, so my husband and I continued with our macrobiotic lifestyle, thinking it enough to tighten up our practice to a more precise healing diet.
Nine months later a second medical checkup showed a whopping thirty-percent growth in my tumor! An alarmed examining surgeon performed a painful needle biopsy that sent me home in tears. I was surprised that my macrobiotic counselor concurred with his recommendation for immediate surgery. He further recommended chemotherapy for the initial shock it would give my body, but cautioned against the standard protocol of long term drugs such as Tamoxifin. I felt powerless in my slide toward the medical world so foreign to my normal health perspective. I had never been ill before! I could only be grateful for all the years I had enjoyed good health without medical intervention.
In holistic terms cancer results from the stagnation of energy. Amelioration requires time, and the tumor growth was rapid. Shocked and tearful, I agreed to the surgery to help me open up physically until I had time to do so spiritually. I recognized that I was living my life with unresolved relationships, resistance to change and the contradiction of desire, all cases in point.
My mastectomy revealed the cancer to be confined to my breast with no growth beyond the chest cavity. Two lymph nodes were found to be cancerous. I accepted a chemotherapy treatment of four sessions administered at three-week intervals. This procedure of slash and poison was a debilitating experience of dehydration and illness entailing emergency hospitalization with intravenous transfusions three times. The oncologist admitted that he might have overdosed the drugs, so he cut down the individual dosage and added a fifth chemotherapy session. My opposition to the invasive medical treatment was strong, and I was sicker than the horror stories I’d heard from so many well-meaning survivors. It was the lowest point of my life.
I hesitated to reveal my condition to the Jerusalem macrobiotic community, projecting their condemnation of me as if my illness proved macrobiotics a failure. I feared I had let them down. Contrary to my expectations, my illness actually united people. The phone rang constantly, locally and internationally. By week's end our bedroom looked like a flower shop. So many people who we had helped in the past were returning all that they had received and more. Despite the misery of my condition, these personal outpourings of love raised my hopes and frame of mind. Thoughts of gratitude filled my heart as the upside of my cancer became increasingly clear.
With deep self reflection I realized that there are no guarantees in life. I determined to take personal responsibility for my illness and focus on my emotional and mental needs. Even though I was awash in the world of hospitals and doctors, I considered medical intervention as adjunct to true healing. I actively sought programs that would help me release acknowledged anger, impatience and guilt.
I worked with a superb healer between chemotherapy sessions, met with an osteopath specializing in mind-body therapy regularly, and began yoga classes with an inspiring teacher and friend. My stint with the hospital psychiatric services was seemingly less successful—I found the staff psychiatrist to be lacking compassion and personal warmth. But I realized that saying no to him was actually a sign of inner strength. I frequently turned instead for reassurance to a clinical psychologist friend. I joined a prosperity workshop to repair my relationship with money, organized an anger workshop and joined a meditation group. I learned healing visualizations to release resistance. These avenues of spiritual growth eased my anxiety about the cause and cure of my disease.
One of my most rewarding healing experiences involved a workshop based on the teachings of Louise Hay. This ten-session course coincided with my scheduled fourth chemotherapy session. I knew that I could only manage one or the other. The strength and support I garnered from these gatherings set me firmly on the path of recovery. I found it empowering and reassuring to be making changes that could affect my future. The value of my medical treatment and my ability to survive it was becoming doubtful in my mind. Still, I suffered great personal anxiety in the face of heavy medical and family pressure to continue.
Finally I understood that it was up to me. Chemotherapy had jolted my system out of its chaotic growth pattern. Now it was up to me to initiate deeper healing. I made the brave decision to take charge of my own health regardless of protocol, pressure or personal fear. As I discovered the power of my mind I began to love myself more. Little by little the gifts of my illness were beginning to shine through. So many doors had been opened, and I knew now that I was in charge of my life.
In reviewing the story of my illness for this anthology I was delighted to realize the progression in my thinking. Before I got ill I was caught in my belief that diet was the cause and cure of health. This thinking kept me a prisoner of my kitchen, fearful to eat what I wanted. Today I believe that my tumor was created from a place of emotional vulnerability. While food and sentiment are a single continuum, the greater imbalance was on the side of emotion. I had left unresolved a dysfunctional and emotionally abusive personal relationship several years before. Then I married into a family that was still healing its own divorce trauma, living as a bride with my husband and step-daughter whose role as Daddy’s housemate I had usurped. With her I recreated the emotional abuse I had just left behind.
In addition I worked long hours advising people how to recover their health and solve personal issues. I remember a dream in which my students were pushing me up against a wall and I couldn’t escape. My husband and I were realizing that our orthodox religious practice didn’t satisfy our spiritual longing, and took the bold move of adopting a more universal expression of beleif, risking both patronage and friendships. My older sister was recovering from breast cancer, still another spotlight on the big C. All of this added up to a sense of helplessness and lack of control. In fact, anger was my abiding issue—I would erupt with frustration at things that didn’t go my way. It was a position of powerlessness.
I owe a great part of my recovery to Jerry and Esther Hicks and the teachings that they channel through Abraham concerning the law of attraction. I have learned to manifest my desires by allowing and letting in the well-being that abounds universally. With seminars and recordings I have steadily retrained myself to seek positive aspects rather than dwell on the negative. I have been able to see my difficulties as wonderful avenues for joy and freedom.
I finally can understand my dis-ease as a reflection of my life choices and know with confidence that I can command my health. I surrender my arrogance about my invincibility and my magical thinking that it can't happen to me. I realize that I am entitled to be unwell even to the point of serious illness. My empathy for sick people has deepened. Thanks to this experience I have healed deep emotional trauma and resentment that I would never have admitted. I am so grateful for the supportive environment of my loving husband and wonderful friends. Best of all is the wonderful relationship I cherish with my new family, particularly the step-daughter who was such a mirror for my growth. She and I share a closeness that provides me the joy of a mother-daughter relationship, something precious to me. The more I self reflect, the more my spirits rise.
Today, seven years after my surgery, I have no symptoms of disease and abundant evidence of well being. My energy is vibrant and my mood upbeat. I am happier than I have ever been and truly grateful for the opportunity to change life patterns. Knowing myself better than ever, I use food, thought, breath and movement to fashion the experiences I desire. I affirm my ability to create my own personal health and happiness. These represent the most profound expression of life and the ones that I treasure most. To the degree that I can conceive health, I am well. To the degree that I can know God, I am whole. I have great gratitude for my experience of illness as a powerful new opening and for radiant health now. I am so grateful for the opportunity to expand my understanding of these issues in writing this story. I can truly say, “Thank God I had breast cancer!”
In the early 1980s the world of health and diet was opened up to me. To supplement our income, my ex-wife and I began distributing health products. My personal lifestyle until that point entailed eating anything and everything even resembling food as long as there was plenty of it. I suffered from Jewish Mother Syndrome: "Eat, eat, if you love me." I was a dutiful child, and I ate. I entered a roller coaster of dieting and bingeing that left me bloated and frustrated. Fortunately, my strong constitution enabled me to escape many of the illnesses of my peers. Aside from chronic bladder difficulties, I considered myself relatively healthy.
A client sent me an article that described a miraculous recovery of terminal cancer through macrobiotics of Dr Anthony Satillaro. This strange diet had made the difference for him where conventional medicine had failed. I was fascinated as I recalled similar testimonials attributed to nutritional supplements. A connection between cancer and diet seemed logical. However, not having cancer myself, I considered the issue personally irrelevant.
About a year later I responded to a local health food store flyer and tasted my first macrobiotic meal. I fell in love with the food, its effect and the philosophical concept supporting it. Several of the dinner guests made the food preparation sound manageable. Seeking a pastime related to my growing awareness of health, I decided to take up macrobiotic cooking.
I applied myself seriously from the start. At a health consultation with a macrobiotic counselor I was surprised to learn how "yang" I was. It sounded ominous even if I did not understand it. I was informed that most of my digestive organs were malfunctioning—so much for alleged good health. I followed his dietary recommendations closely and noticed physical and mental changes almost immediately. My thinking became clearer and I began to lose weight.
Unexpectedly, my weight loss became rapid and uncontrollable despite chronic overeating. I began discharging foul odors from my mouth and body. My skin color rotated through cycles of brown and yellow. Sexual energy vanished. Instead of feeling discouraged, however, I enjoyed renewed surges of (nonsexual) energy.
In eighteen months my weight plummeted from 175 to 105 pounds. My clothes hung on me like a scarecrow. Friends passing me on the street didn’t recognize me. Along with the weight, my muscular system deteriorated. To climb steps, I had to grab my slacks and dig my elbows into my sides to lift my legs. I could not pick up my eight year-old daughter.
I had great pain and difficulty urinating and ultimately became incontinent. I had to wear diapers to bed. I developed deep tingling sensations on my left side. Two toes on my left foot turned black, and urination became nearly impossible. I finally agreed to consult a doctor. He immediately hospitalized me when he determined that my bladder was about five times its normal size. The surgeon ordered routine diagnostic tests before operating. A CAT scan showed a deep-seated growth between my bladder and spine. Michio Kushi, as well as my macrobiotic counselor and an oncologist who later saw my scans confirmed that the growth was malignant. Michio later affirmed that the cancer may well have spread significantly had I not made serious dietary changes when I did.
The scheduled biopsy and probable chemotherapy treatment frightened me more than death itself. The morning before my scheduled biopsy, I discharged myself from the hospital. I was confident that I would cure myself without allopathic interference. Thus began my long hard road to recovery with macrobiotics. I did not disclose the nature of my illness to my mother, sister or any of my three daughters. It was the only way to avoid their unwanted pity and well-meaning pressure to seek the conventional medical treatment that I abandoned.
During the following four years I prepared all my own food with little family support. Fortunately my job entailed little stress, leaving me the time I needed to focus on my healing. Unfortunately, my wife and I clashed openly over my macrobiotic habits and their "negative" influence on our kids.
I underwent regular shiatsu treatments in Manhattan. My Japanese therapist encouraged me, adjusted my diet and explained the many bodily transitions taking place. I discharged sugar for about a year and a half—longer than she had ever seen—with ugly wart-like discolorations on the back of my hands and forearms. I was nearly deaf for weeks until accumulated mucus slowly drained out of my head. For over a year the skin on my hands was dry and cracked around the nails and joints. The resulting infections took months to heal. Worst of all was the cold that racked my body, particularly my hands and feet. I couldn’t bear air-conditioning, something hard to avoid in the summer.
In 1990 I separated from my wife and relocated to Jerusalem. I had a final CAT scan before I left the United States that confirmed what I already knew—I was well. The tumor was completely gone. I soon regained enough weight to look and feel human again. About seven years into my macrobiotic practice I went through a spiritual awakening that lifted me to levels of joy and peace I never knew possible. I was able to put aside all the anger and pain of my unhappy childhood and marriage, and approach higher levels of consciousness in my daily life. Today my understanding of health revolves around the smooth flow of energy without resistance, the joy of being surrounded by a loving spouse, and children, and the knowing that all is well.