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Thursday, September 06, 2001

Ayurveda's Individualized Path

At the age of 79, Louis had a heart attack. Rather than undergo surgery, he asked to consult with me. At 35, an obese and depressed Lana had had enough of fad diets that left her frustrated and filled with self-loathing and shame. 26 year old Anna sufferd with Pelvic Inflammatory Disorder and multiple food sensitivities. Mark, an active, athletic 27 year old in "great health" came to see me for what was ultimately the reason the others had come -- the desire to take a more active role in their health, the awareness that how we choose to live is directly related to the quality of our life and our sense of well-being.

They all chose Ayurveda (the Sanskrit word means "science of life") because the aim of Ayurveda is to achieve an energetic equilibrium in the individual which will aid in keeping body, mind and spirit balanced and healthy.

Ayurveda is Yoga's "sister science," often called the "mother of holistic healing." It is the world's oldest, fully integrated, comprehensive body of knowledge related to total health care based upon the observaton of living beings and their environment. Ayurveda offers us insight about the senses, mind, emotions, body and relationships, and is based upon the development of the consciousness that underlies and integrates all aspects of life. Its message is of the harmony between the individual and the cosmos and how to maintain this balance.

What each of the above mentioned individuals learned was that there are no panaceas or "magic bullets" that can work for all people at all times. As individuals, our healing paths are unique. As microcosms of the macrocosm, all we do, think, consume or otherwise experience will either help balance and maintain our health or cause imbalance and disease.

How Does Ayurveda Work?

Ayurveda teaches that each of us has an innate psycho-physical constitution, called Prakriti, composed of a unique combination of three bio-energies called Doshas, that control the entire functioning and structure of the human organism.

These three Doshas or principle forces are Vata (the bio-motor force controlling all movement including circulation, elimination and nerve impulses); Pitta (the transformative force controlling all metabolic processes such as the endocrine system and digestion); and Kapha (the preservative/structural force responsible for form and endurance). Health is viewed as the maintenance of balance among the 3 doshas according to one's unique Prakriti or constitution. Illness is an excess, deficiency or derangement of one or more of the doshas.

Once one has an understanding of one's constitution, it then becomes possible to design an individualized daily routine utilizing a broad-based set of self-administered therapies including nutrition, herbs, yoga asana, pranayama, massage, meditation and aromatherapy to name just a few.

Ayurveda addresses all levels of the individual -- physical, mental, emotional, spiritual -- in order that one's balance of health be restored as gently and non-invasively as possible. While Ayurveda is quite useful in aiding symptomatic healing, its greatest gift is perhaps the knowledge it gives to prevent illness, and thus optimize our health and well-being.

It is this whole-hearted emphasis on the prevention of illness which requires that we make the choice to take full responsibilty for our health and well-being. Clearly not everyone is ready or capable to do so, but for those who desire to grow in self-awareness and self-reliance, Ayurveda provides the knowledge and tools to maximize one's health and human potential. As a spiritual science, allied with Yoga, Ayurveda has as its ultimate goal, not mere physical health, but true self-realization or enlightenment.

An Ayurvedic Practitioner serves her or his client as an educator and facilitator as well as by providing support along the way. They are a "Dharma Friend." Recognizing that only nature's intelligence heals and that all therapies are merely catalysts for healing, the Practitioner encourages his or her clients to choose those substances and experiences that are in harmony with the client's nature. The client can thus grow in self-awareness and knowledge and through her own experience, become empowered with the tools to create and maintian health throughout the ups and downs of daily life with ever-growing mindfulness.

At 86, seven years after his heart attack, Louis still walks 4 to 6 miles a day in addition to working in his 1/2 acre garden. He has recently re-painted his house all by himself! He has been told by his doctor that he has the health of a 65 year old and weighs 20 lbs less than he did at retirement! Lana lost over 100 lbs over 18 months. But perhaps even more importantly, as she recently wrote to me:
"Ayurveda gave me the tools to improve my health, lose weight, improve my energy level, improve my mental health and begin to love myself."

Anna's periods are now "pain free" and her food choices have actually expanded to include many of the foods she previously had to deny herself. Mark continues to practice his daily routine which he finds has deepened his self-understanding as well as his yoga and meditation practice.

As I hang up the phone after speaking with Kate, a new client who is preparing for pregnancy, her final words resound in my ear, "I just know that the time is right for me to finally take the reins and do this for myself." To me these words are the "open says me" to the boundlessness of human potential, and it is always my great joy and honored privilege to be a partner along the journey.

.: posted by Poep Sa Frank Jude 3:01 PM

Tuesday, September 04, 2001


.: posted by Poep Sa Frank Jude 3:59 PM

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