Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
After the shocking events from the catastrophic Lāhainā blaze, I figured that it would be good to switch gears and look at something more lighthearted and fun. Hence the topic of this article is about a local favorite donut, the andagi. More specifically it is called saataa andagi where saataa means sugar and andagi means deep-fried food. This donut was introduced to Okinawa back 500 years ago when kitchen workers from the Ryuukyuu Dynasty in China came back home. The ingredients of this traditional donut are simple: flour, sugar and eggs. These ingredients are mixed and formed into a ball and deep fried to a crispy browned outside and cake-like filling on the inside.
I remember my mother’s stories about her grandmother who would grab the andagi batter and make these perfect round balls when she placed it in the hot oil to be cooked. Over the years, my mother tried to replicate what her grandma did but was never successful in creating perfect round spheres.
As I researched about the origins of the andagi, I came across some interesting facts, such as, if the andagi has cracks in it, it resembles a person’s smiley face and laughter. The cracks also give it the appearance of a blooming flower, which symbolizes women. The andagi is considered to be fortuitous in Okinawa and is eaten during happy occasions such as birthdays and engagements. Besides celebratory instances the andagi can also be a symbol of connecting with friends, loved ones and maintaining connections with your bigger community. Just like the mind-body connection, connecting with like-minded individuals can help to fortify this awareness among others who are willing to share and look at how certain stressors or life changes have impacted them physically in a good or bad way.
I am using the andagi as an analogy of how something so simple can have many meanings; the mind-body connection is also simple in concept, but if applied, you can find many ways to be empowered in your life.
One aspect of the andagi is that it was adopted from another country and over time has evolved into its own identity. Just like the mind-body connection, each person has their own unique experiences. Therefore, even if two people have certain body pains or health conditions that are similar in nature, the way it is manifested in each individual can vary.
So, from a simple concept that your mental and emotional state can impact your physical body, there are other outliers that we need to understand for us to heal or achieve greater wellness.
In this article, I will discuss how healing can be simple in nature, but how human nature tends to make everything so darn complicated. By learning how to pay attention to just the simple things that create stress and impact your well-being, like the andagi you can take action to bring more ease and harmony in your life.
As I mentioned earlier, the traditional saataa andagi is only made up of three simple ingredients: sugar, flour and eggs. The same applies to the human body – basic things that you can do physically to help you have more verve and wellness. Actions that you can take, as we are move into the fall and flu season, to keep your immune system strong are as follows:
Get adequate amounts of restful sleep (6-8 hours).
Drink at least 8 cups of water, but more is recommended.
Make sure that you move or exercise for at least 20-30 minutes a day.
Stretch from time to time in order to stay supple and flexible.
Eat a balanced diet and avoid refined sugars, which cause inflammation and make your organs work harder.
Meditate or take moments to be quiet and unplug from social media or cell phones.
Cultivate self-appreciation time.
When it comes to your emotions, this is where keeping it simple can be a little bit more challenging. When your feelings and emotions are activated, it’s difficult to get yourself back into a balanced, neutral state. Throw anger, anxiety and fear into the mix and you no longer have a simple emotional “andagi” situation. One of the most powerful and simplest exercises you can do to help calm your emotional state is to just breathe. In a previous article I suggested taking seven deep breaths in and out to help get you back into the present. The simplicity of this exercise works because by focusing on your breath and feeling how your breath comes in and out of your lungs helps you to pause. How many times in the past have you experienced making an impulse decision or reacting quickly instead of taking time to think things through and later regretting it?
The other strategy to get back into a neutral emotional state is to allow yourself to feel the emotion whether it be anger, sadness, fear or anxiety. The trick is to push out any thoughts that your mind conjures up to justify the emotion that you are feeling. The better you become at pushing out those thoughts and staying present while bringing awareness to how your body is reacting and responding to your emotions will help you calm down faster. Just remember, this will take practice just like making a perfectly round andagi. Practice makes perfect.
I have learned over time that sometimes it’s easier to be a simpleton who goes about life not knowing any better than being a well-educated thinker. Just like in the Tarot deck, why on earth would the first card of the deck be the “fool” if this quality wasn’t important? Why would having a simple mind be best? When you learn to trust your instincts and intuition, instead of strategizing and figuring out the best strategy to deal with a particular situation, you just act. Many times we (yes, including myself) tend to find ourselves going through “over analysis paralysis.” I will consider all the different variables, focusing on what might happen, with the end result of not taking quick and decisive actions. This is where the acronym, K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid, is sound advice. Don’t overthink your situation. Instead, check in to see why your body is creating certain muscle tightness, pains and any bothersome health condition.
By appreciating the simple things in life such as family, a beautiful rainbow, or when the tradewinds return to the islands that help your mental well-being. Just think about it – it’s usually the irresponsible sibling or partner who just lives their lives, while the responsible individuals are the ones who are stressed because they are taking care of all the logistics and planning. So, adopt this mindset – less is more. The less you think, and the more you trust your body signs, the more aligned you will be in your life. Such a simple mental construct, but I have heard from many people as they enter their 70s and 80s that they want to simplify their lives. Diets become simpler and more basic as we age, and usually it’s because, for some odd reason, it helps them feel better.
Whether you follow a particular religion or not, faith is the simple action that one needs to adopt. The simple act of faith is somehow all one needs to understand the simple nature of the universe. Some Christian concepts such as “treat others as you wish to be treated” and “love your neighbor as you would love yourself” for example are simple but at times difficult to accomplish. Why is that? The reason is that you need to know yourself and your own inherent truth. This is how life experiences, good and bad, help us to polish our unique identities and lead to interpersonal and self-development.
Recognizing that events happen in your life for you and not to you is a simple concept, and if understood and embraced will help you to take responsibility for your life and prevent falling into a victim mentality. Learning to accept the good and bad in your life allows you to be the master of your fate and captain of your soul. You have the power to decide whether or not to react to situations that occur in your life. This is your power – the freedom of choice.
In closing, the andagi is a simple, sweet treat that can be a good analogy to how the mind-body connection works. Accept the simplicity of this local Okinawan donut and know that keeping things simple in your life has more benefits than drawbacks. Allow the joy of eating an andagi fill you and share it with your friends, family and greater community. Let’s replace the energy of fear and anger with joy and acceptance.
Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the doctor of chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (drchadsato.com), in Mänoa valley, O‘ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.