It’s official. I’m having my Ayurvedawakening. It’s been a slow process but maybe an inevitable one…? Depends on who you ask, I guess! Slowly but surely, it’s working its way into my consciousness and my heart. It started with a lot of distrust, frustration and skepticism. During my 3-month meditation teacher training in India, it was kind of a running joke amongst my classmates that I was having this internal battle between western medicine and Ayurveda. I had left my hospital medicine job in Chicago just 3 months before my teacher training began, and even though I had some serious questions about the functionality of our medical system, I had even more questions about a preventative health philosophy that seemed to be so high-maintenance and fraught with rules and judgment.
Slowly I began to get more curious about Ayurveda. What was I missing? I’m so in tune with the practice and principles of Vedic meditation, so how could I be this unclear about Ayurveda, which originates from the same body of knowledge as Vedic meditation (the Vedas), and does for the body what Vedic meditation does for the spirit and mind? It’s kinda like soccer (football for the non-Americans reading this). I don’t understand it myself, but I see that the whole rest of the world loves it passionately. Clearly I’m missing something.
It started little by little. One afternoon during my teacher training, my teacher Thom described Pitta (one of the doshas, or body types, in Ayurveda) traits, and it was like he was describing me, including every one of my idiosyncracies, perfectly. I learned to do a self-massage called abhyanga. A classmate had some truly miraculous and almost incomprehensible health benefits from Ayurvedic treatments.
By the time I returned from teacher training, I had made some Ayurvedic dietary changes that felt intuitively right (and that I might have made fun of while we were in India). A friend recommended I read Deepak Chopra’s book Return of the Rishi, which describes his journey from practicing western medicine to re-discovering his Ayurvedic roots, and then combining the two. In the book, he explained the philosophy of Ayurveda in a way that finally made sense to me. At its most basic level, Ayurveda helps us return to the rhythms of nature that we, as humans, are designed to follow. Find what’s out of balance, and balance it. It fills in the gaps of where western medicine often falls short. Not a replacement, but a legitimate complement.
I leave for a 3 ½ week Ayurveda retreat in India next week. I heard about it just as I was reading Return of the Rishi. I’m beyond excited to learn more as I experience one of the major Ayurveda treatments called Panchakarma. I get to teach meditation while I’m there. I'm still learning, but it’s all coming together, and I can feel something big is about to happen. There will definitely be more to come from me on Ayurveda.
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