“It is very easy to look for health outside ourselves, in the form of some miracle supplement or exercise routine or life partner who can provide us with what we are sure we need. What we really need to do, however, is to begin our search for good health by looking within ourselves, into the spaces we so often take for granted because they always reside within us. In the beginning of your inward quest you may see no more than you could if you were to walk from bright sunlight into a darkened room. But if you persist, your internal “eye” of perception will accommodate to your internal light, and you will then begin to “see.” Each of us possesses powers for health maintenance and self-healing that we can activate if we will but learn how to let them flow.” -Dr. Robert Svoboda
When I first read these words I just stopped in my tracks. I took a deep breath. I read them again. I felt such deep resonance with this statement overall, and these words in particular: “our search for good health (begins) by looking within ourselves, into the spaces we so often take for granted….” that I had to pause and really take it all in.
I remember sitting in evening lecture at Ayurveda school with my teacher Dr. Lad with tears streaming down my face as he so clearly spoke to the mind/body/spirit healing that was possible. Health is not simply the absence of disease, but a deep well being that radiates from within us. Besides a balance within our physical and psychic organism, real health is svastha, a deep abiding within—to be seated within ourselves—a kind of sovereignty.
We carry the genetics of our ancestors, just like we carry the conditioning of our childhoods, and of the cultural collective. Left unexamined, we might simply walk towards a destiny that our parents, and their parents laid out for us. But what if we claim our sovereignty? What if we separate from the patterning of our past, and begin to reconnect to what feels Essential within us? What does the future look like then?
Our genetic inheritance, like our cultural conditioning does not limit us to a particular disease manifestation in our lifetime. Much of what will ultimately express is impacted by the choices we make everyday: choices around having an optimistic or pessimistic outlook; on whether we allow some white space into our days in which to digest our life experiences; choices around what we eat; how we eat (remember chewing?); how much TV we watch; how much sleep we get; how we think about our life experiences; and whether we actively move towards freeing ourselves from the patterning of our past, and our parent’s past, and their parent’s past, or unconsciously walk with the same patterns they did, to the same end result. Even a 5 degree shift in what we are doing, over time, will take us to an entirely different place.
The living truth of Ayurveda is revealed to us through certain spiritual, mental, and physical guidelines with which to relate and live. Whether or not I can eat a particular food has nothing to do with the food list, and everything to do with whether I can digest it or not. This is not a rigid fundamentalist system of do’s and don’ts but a living tradition, a map laid out for us by wise men and women over many thousands of years. As we look within, and deepen our relationship with our own organism, we see the familiar patterns of our experience: Edgy, stressed out, anxious, afraid; overeating, constipated, overweight, rushing around, striving, over-doing, self-forgetting, complaining about our lot in life…. When we explore a new pattern like, taking a few moments at the end of the day to list the things for which we are grateful, we get to experience the consequences of that shift. Forget to connect to gratitude, and we get to experience what life feels like from that point of view. When we eat an earlier, lighter dinner, and consciously unplug and slow down the hour before bed, we get to notice whether we sleep better, or wake up feeling lighter and more rested. Like any tradition, yoga, for example, it is our willingness to try the practices with an open and curious mind that reveals the value and benefit of the system over time.
A wise man once said that no system which accounts for everything is complete. And no system which is complete will account for everything. No matter how elegant the system, there are always variables for which we cannot account. This is the Mystery of Life. The Wild Card. Even when we find a practice like Ayurveda or Yoga, we have to stay awake to how the practices are affecting us NOW. The asana practice I did in my 20’s is not the asana practice I do now as I move into my 50’s. Times change. The manner in which I treat myself and relate to self-criticism and pessimistic thought patterns is different than when I was just waking up to those pieces as a young woman. Yoga and Ayurveda offer us a rich mixture of practices to work with our body, mind, heart, soul now and as we continue on the path. Perhaps you are someone who has the dietary practices down, and yet you still struggle with a depressed way of thinking, and a backlog of past experiences that need to be grieved and released. Or perhaps you are a positive thinker, seeing the glass as always half full, and yet, you struggle with a sugar addiction and are therefore ripe for the cold of the season every time. Perhaps your heart is open and you take great care of your family and clients, but habitually neglect taking the time to connect with your own soul needs and so are often depleted and resentful.
Taking the time to tune in and to attune to our mind-body-heart-spirit organism is as simple as setting aside time with the moon’s rhythm. At the new moon time (just arrived this past Friday) take some time to ask your self what you need at all of these levels. What are you hungry for? What does your heart need? How can you best care for your energy? Pick one or two things at most to practice each day to nourish yourself during this next cycle. Then at the full moon (Christmas Day, this year), review how it is going. Make adjustments. At the next new moon, begin again. In this way we are developing an ongoing relationship with the many aspects of Being and developing our capacity to see what our organism is asking for. In this work of svastha, being established in ourself, conscious communities, are so helpful. Even though we may be working on very different pieces, we are sharing in and supporting the shared act of staying awake and valuing ourselves enough to stay attuned and responsive. We take care of our Being so that we may do our work in the world and in our most intimate relationships.
As Dr. Svoboda teaches,” Each of us possesses powers for health maintenance and self-healing that we can activate if we will but learn how to let them flow.”
I want to support you in tapping into your own self-healing capacity using Ayurveda. I am inviting four new or returning clients into my schedule for an Ayurvedic Assessment and Wellness Plan in January, 2016.– Purchase by Dec 21st and use by January 22nd with the following link and receive $100 off the 2-part Introductory Assessment. Purchase here. Schedule your first session here. Find out more here.
I will be opening up my 9-month course beginning in January, 2016. This online community will include monthly live, video mini-retreats for practice and teachings on yoga and Ayurveda. This is the deeper immersion into Sacred Daily Essentials where we get established in the healthy habits that support svastha now and into the future. Stay tuned for more information coming soon.