A New Love Story
Nadia Linda Hole, M.D.
“Enjoy life. There’s plenty of time to be dead” – Hans Christian Andersen
“From your I AM is born … the song that beautifies all” – Aramaic Lord’s Prayer
“Start the day with Love. Fill the day with Love. End the day with Love” – Sai Baba
Live each day like it’s your last, and one day you’ll be right – Quincy Jones
When you find the Love, you find yourself – Sidi
Want to live a remarkable life? Want to “age well”?
As integrative holistic physicians, we can easily write you doctor’s orders, for an exhausting “to do” lists of lab tests and nutraceuticals; from super food mega vitamins, nano-minerals, green and red “instant” juices, to enhancers for your stem cells, adaptogens for growth hormone, cordyceps for telomeres, ashwagandha for adrenals; sepia or vetiver for libido, and so on; not to mention the newest other state of the art “proven” therapies – from EEG brain wave entrainment to quantum vibroacoustic “Qi machines,” and more.
Baby boomer or not, how much time, money, and energy, do YOU really want to spend on aging “well?” AND – With the ever escalating demands of modern day life, is Shangri-La just a dream, forever to elude us?
Wait! Maybe there’s hope? Have you heard of the people who “forget to die?”
Researchers have discovered 5 pockets in the world – Loma Linda in Mexico, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, and Ikaria in Greece – where remarkable numbers of people, live remarkable lives, to remarkable ages. Elders regularly outlive the elderly of more industrialized nations by over a decade, with significantly less morbidity from cancer, cardiac, and other chronic disease. Interestingly 3 of the 5 are island communities.
Ikaria, an isolated Aegean Greek island, tops the world longevity list, with more people living past age 90, than anywhere else in the world, often still socially AND sexually active, with virtually no dementia. Our Aloha state of Hawaii, incidentally, tops the US longevity list, with the US capitol Washington DC, at the bottom.
What secrets do these islands, and our elders, have to teach us?
Years ago, two Greek immigrants, Yiannis Karimalis and war vet Stamatis Moraitas, got unexpected news – Yiannis a diagnosis of stomach cancer, Stamatis, lung cancer. Doctors gave each only months to live. In lieu of costly western treatment and hospitals, both chose to return Home instead, to their native Ikaria.
When Yiannis and Stamatis returned home, they did not come home to bottles full of pills, and days scheduled full of appointments, practices, and/or special diets.
Yiannis and Stamatis returned Home to a timeless life style, for many of us forgotten – simple, walks, talks, dances, siesta’s, sipping cups of tea, and breaking bread together, with family, friends, and community. Both happily each outlived their doctors by decades, cancer free.
Interestingly, in Ikaria and here in Puna Hawaii, the native diet of choice, is a “poor man’s” indigenous diet, with food all harvested fresh from land, or wild, high in organic local greens and grains, with plenty of raw dairy, raw honey, fresh herbs, fish, and game. Regular exercise, like herding goats walking, dancing, and swimming; and weekly community gatherings are a part of life.
Before you jump on a plane to isolate whatever active anti-aging ingredients there are in Ikarian or Hawaiian native herbs, teas, honey… Stop! With sincere gratitude, for good medicine, from all traditions – are there possibly other, deeper, secrets? (Real Food is Good Medicine, YS Jul Aug 2012)
My parents, both physicians, from Yale in China, were raised on a “poor man’s diet.” As prizewinning ball-room dancers, they happily stole every dance floor they could, well into their 80’s. They also absolutely loved their work as doctors helping people. My father just celebrated his 90th birthday.
One of my favorite Hawaiian near-octogenarians is Uncle Sam, a four-time Purple Heart vet. Like my parents, he doesn’t pay much attention to diet or exercise. Uncle lives life passionately, to keep Aloha alive. His joy is protecting our beloved Hawaii as a paradise for our children. One of his dreams is to re-create prisons, literally without walls, for convicted “offenders;” with growing their own food, and sacred Hawaiian teachings, chanting, and community, as their rehab.
Recently, I ran into an aging mosque couple whom I haven’t seen for years. Both radiated happiness and health, and looked far far younger than years ago. Their secret? “Just praying.”
One of the most revered elders in integrative medicine, the late cardiologist Dr Lee Lipsenthal MD, past president of American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, who when diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer, wrote Enjoy Every Sandwich – Living Each Day as if it Were Your Last; spoke often about the vital importance of connectivity, touch, relationships, and love, in the practice of medicine, and their measurable outcomes for morbidity and mortality. Lee wrote, “Being fully alive, I discovered, has nothing to do with the presence or absence of disease… It’s really about enjoying the simplicity of life.”
Why waste time on old hurts? Instead, like my parents, Lee loved dancing. I once had the honor of dancing with him. As one of our colleagues puts it, Dr Lipsenthal, for sure, “didn’t dance like a white boy.”
My parents, Uncle Sam, and mosque friends had no mind for diet, exercises, or nutraceuticals. Dr Lipsenthal’s favorite sandwich was a BLT. What’s their common secret?
Dr Stefanadis, Dept Cardiology, Athens Medical School, writes, “There is increasing scientific evidence that there are protective health benefits from traditional ways of living, involving diet, physical activity status, an active social life, and an optimistic attitude. “
One fascinating study which summarizes the results of nearly 150 earlier studies, found that “friendship (has) as much impact on the risk of death as smoking, drinking, physical activity or obesity.”
The ELSA study of 10,000 aging Brits concludes that happy people are likelier to stay alive, than the unhappiest people over a given time period. The “grumpiest” people had 3 times the death rate as the happiest. Happy people tended to also stress less.
Andrew Steptoe, Dept. Epidemiology and Public Health at U College London and co-author of ELSA, writes, “The link between psychological well-being, and long-term health and survival, was independent of other factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, wealth, education and baseline health.”
Times as is – As a doctor, I hear more than my share of heartbreak stories, often totally beyond control of the survivors – unimaginable losses of health, loves, work, finances, safety/security, and oftentimes of life itself. As a mother, daughter, friend, beloved, I too know loss.
Face it – If life challenges aren’t enough, we’re ALL, nowadays, being bombarded with unprecedented solar and earth changes, with definite effects on our physiology and psyche. Times as is – With one big bang, the whole topic of “aging well” could be moot in a second, for any of us.
If all we have is NOW, and we can’t pack our bags and move to an island like Hawaii or Ikaria – how now can we possibly embody the secrets of the island and our elders, within ourselves?
Okinawan elders live a life style culture, imbued with “Ikigai,” or “what makes one’s life worth living.” Like their Japanese counterparts, Yiannis and Stamatis, by living what makes life worth living, they simply forgot to die.
What’s your Ikigai? What makes life worth living for YOU? What simple joys do you gift yourself? Who and what are your true Loves? Whom is it time to break bread with? Share a cup of tea with? Who and where, is your “tribe?” Family? Children? Loved ones? Do they know how you love them? Who needs a hug? What choices would you make, if today were your last sandwich?
If you could give yourself ONE gift, for your life, for TODAY, for yourself, what would it be?
A friend of a friend suggests “Perhaps it’s time to write a new love story for Yourself – one with a happier ending. Perhaps it’s time for a bigger story, a story bigger than You, ME, our selves, US…” Perhaps it’s time, no matter what your circumstances, to simply enjoy life, help others live their joy too… and Love, Love, Love, as if there’s no tomorrow!
One of the oldest women in the world, a recognized chocoholic, drank red wine daily. When asked her secret, she smiled, “I have only one wrinkle and it’s between my legs.”
SmilesJ Perhaps it’s high time to fall in love with YOU! Happy 2014 Valentine’s Day, and Blessed Be.
Dan Buettner, Blue Zones, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2005/11/longevity-secrets/buettner-text , and http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html
Christodoulos Stefanadis MD, Hellenic J Cardiol 2011; 52: 479-480, Unveiling the Secrets of Longevity: The Ikaria Study
Lee Lipensthal MD, Dying Awake, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-lipsenthal-md/coping-with-cancer_b_915067.html
Laura Rowley, “Happiness: Study Suggests Well Being, Or Lack of It, Can Predict Illness and Death, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/15/happiness-longevity_n_1968158.html
Dr. Nadia Linda Hole MD is a pioneer in bridging Qigong, Oriental, Western, and Energy Medicine. Recognized as a “master” by other masters, with degrees from Princeton, Duke, USHS, and Oneness Universities, she has served on the faculties of the American Holistic Medical Association, and American Academy of Pain Management, among others. She is a contributing author for complementary medicine textbooks; consulting editor for Chinese Medical Qigong, and co-founder of the Free Distance Healing Qi Project. Besides dancing, dolphins, healing in the way of Love, peace, and the practical science of “miracles,” Dr Hole’s passion is bringing a more heart centered, Qi approach, to medicine.