Live Well Live Long. Teachings from the Chinese nourishment of life tradition – Peter Deadman. This book review first appeared in the British Acupuncture Council Members’ publication ‘Acu’, Late Summer 2016.
I have to say, I was a little excited at the prospect of reviewing Peter Deadman‘s new book. I can assure you I have not been disappointed in the reading of it.
The first test any book has to pass for me, as a bit of a book nerd and one time librarian, is that it has to please all senses. The cover has to look and feel right. The paper needs to feel good and the print be ‘just so’. And then there is the sniff test (I know to some this may sound strange, but I also know I’m not alone in this).
When I open a new book I just have to sniff it! I’m happy to report that ‘Live Well, Live Long’ passed with flying colours.
I read it from cover to cover in a single day, pausing only for essential actions like replenishing my tea cup. It is extremely well written and has a natural flow to it. Aimed at the layman as well as practitioner, the language used is easy to follow and absorb.
‘Live Well Live Long’ is a “workshop manual for the care of the human body, mind and spirit.” It covers everything from birth to death with all that is needed to have a happy, healthy, long life in between. Starting with an overview of yansheng (nourishment of life), the first few chapters focus on the challenge of health, why we get ill, and what determines our longevity. The remainder of the book then covers in greater detail the varied health cultivation traditions and how we can use them now to improve our quality and length of life. Each chapter covers a specific area of life, such as sleep, diet, affairs of the bedroom, (Yes! There is a whole chapter dedicated to Tea!) and along with a liberal sprinkling of appropriate quotations* explains the traditional teachings. Each of these is then firmly backed up by reference to modern lifestyle research, but at no point does it become difficult, heavy going to read, or condescending. Although I had the opportunity to read the whole book in a single sitting, it would be equally useful as a reference manual to dip into a relevant chapter as and when needed. I’m sure I will be doing so.
This book truly is a comprehensive workshop manual for life. I would recommend it to all practitioners as a source of lifestyle advice, not only for their patients but also for themselves. I have learned a huge amount from it and will certainly be recommending it to those patients who express the need to see the bigger picture and take on the challenge and responsibility for their own long healthy life. I will also be changing a few of my own lifestyle habits and maybe ticking a few more books off the given list of further reading!
* Quotations are given from diverse sources including Chinese proverbs, Sun Simiao, Hippocrates, Bob Dylan, William Shakespeare, Woody Allen, and my own favourite philosopher Winnie the Pooh (alias A.A. Milne)
“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought. Piglet was comforted by this.”
And my favourite wise words from Mr. Deadman himself? There are so many to choose from and with every turn of a page I discovered a new favourite phrase. But for the moment, this:
“It is easy to become overwhelmed by life. We can readily become bored, restless, anxious, bitter, irritable or distracted. And of course we can suffer deeply in many different ways. We can be unconscious, almost, that we are actually alive and spend more time wishing we were somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else than being where we actually are.
Yet this one life, this only life we have, passes in a blur of moments, hours, days, weeks, years. When we contemplate the brief, precious spell of life that we enjoy compared to the infinity of time before and after, it seems clear that we should try to relish every moment.”
‘Live Well, Live Long’ is available to purchase from all good booksellers, but if you would like someone to do the work for you just get in touch and I can help you with that!