by Jojo Furnival
Andreas Schmitt, from Germany, has been a volunteer at New Life for three months, offering one-on-one Chinese medicine based ‘Mind Meal’ consultations to other New Lifers. He describes the foundation as his “second home”, splitting his time between here, Germany, and other projects that capture his interest around the world.
A trained systemic and family therapist, Andy first came across mindfulness in 2011 when he began using it as a tool to heighten his own awareness while working with difficult clients, and to aid his clients in their recovery. His favorite mindfulness practice is now hugging meditation, of which he reflects, “Body contact is important to feel love and to give love. You need both to heal and recover”. His preferred working meditation is agriculture: “I can sit weeding in the sun and enjoy the slight breeze.”
Andy first came to New Life in 2013. He recalls, “I felt like my life was at a ‘dead end’. I decided that I didn’t want to live a ‘normal’ life anymore; I wanted to see the world and be where my heart wanted to be, which was in Asia. So I sold everything, and now I live out of a bag. But I don’t need anything; knowledge is the only thing you carry with you wherever you go, and now I can combine my love of travel with my work.”
With several years’ worth of experience in psychotherapy, Andy is familiar with other people’s distress, and after listening to the sad stories of individuals seeking answers, he felt that in many cases a more holistic approach was required: “I found that with some clients, their problems appeared one dimensional. For some people, talking about their thoughts doesn’t give enough space for development, because the body, which is such an important dimension in well being, is missing. Chinese medicine provides ways to assess a person’s overall health, and advise them accordingly, by understanding their bodily sensations and their appearance. It’s just not necessary to hear a person’s life story over and over again, and this makes the process so much easier for the client.”
A lot of people that come to New Life notice a separation between their body and mind. The Western world’s ‘mind over matter’ perspective sees the body, its limitations and inevitable sickness as a burden and a hindrance to the workings of the mind. But Chinese tradition sees them as one entity; the health of each is essential to the health of the other. Combining his training in health prevention in Taiwan with studies in herbalism in Würzburg, Andy’s ‘Mind Meal’ consultations have helped many New Lifers to see their symptoms, whether emotional or physical, through a different lens.
Andy describes Mind Meal as “an opportunity to learn something about yourself, not just on an emotional level, but also to connect better with your body; to understand the connection between your bodily symptoms or sensations and your lifestyle or state of mind. By telling people what exercises or nutrition they can treat themselves with, it gives them a chance to heal themselves without needing someone else to heal them over and over again. They can help to keep themselves in balance if they’re willing.”
Andy’s natural medicinal knowledge compliments his passion for food and cooking – planning every single meal, shopping with specific meals in mind, he cooks three times a day. A Mind Meal consultation allows Andy to share this knowledge with clients, and provides them with the tools and insight to manage their own health without extreme measures. But Andy himself discovered the power of Chinese medicine the hard way, on a five day detox in Taiwan: “The Chinese professor there cured all my symptoms. I don’t think it was so much the man as the effect the detox had on me. On the second day I thought I would die! But by the 5th day, I was symptom free. And the classes were so simple, and so easy to teach other people; that was very inspiring. We make everything in the western world so complicated!”
Check out Andy’s website for an online Mind Meal consultation and to read his blog.