Ayurveda, the oldest intact system of natural medicine, is one of the most powerful healing modalities known to humankind. With roots as deep as the living indigenous healing traditions, it is unique in its ability to connect modern people with the ancient wisdom that lies within them as well as the wisdom embedded in the world around them. Ayurveda is often sought out in our time by people who are looking for healing, vitality and balance. It is known as a reliable and simple way to address the root causes of physical and emotional disease. It can bring us home to our natural state which is healthy, strong and beautiful. And yet there is a deeper path of Ayurveda, one that leads you into the deepest heart of your life, bestowing a feeling of joy and connection you may have never thought possible.
Ayurveda differs from other forms of modern natural medicine in that is comprehensive. Nothing is outside of its scope. Everything-even our pain-can be experienced as a call to healing. It is also all-inclusive, meaning whether you are simply looking to get healthy, feel better emotionally and physically or have more energy for your family and loved ones, you will find effective tools for doing so. Ayurveda can also address specific health issues and is particularly suited to resolving chronic illness and emotional issues. Trauma, anxiety, depression, allergies, adrenal fatigue, sleep and digestive disorders, weight issues and general vitality are just a few examples of the range of healing possible. The comprehensive and inclusive nature of Ayurveda also means that is can be practiced alongside western medicine, and is excellent for supporting the body and mind when clients desire to transition safely (with full knowledge and support of their physician) off of prescribed medications.
Ayurveda is a form of living medicine. It is a path of practice. The way it manifests and unfolds in your life will look different than it does for me or anyone else. It is completely unique to each individual. My task as a practitioner is to support you in unfolding the healing intelligence of your body, whether that means dietary support, movement, restoration with herbs or purification through ritual and self-care. Healing the body and emotions is the first step. But then there is another journey waiting, the journey of actualizing a life that is full of joy, creativity, community, family and love.
Every spiritual tradition has this possibility. And whether or not you desire to delve into the depths of Ayurveda or you just want a healthier way of living, Ayurveda is a reliable path. But I want to talk about Ayurveda specifically in how the complete spiritual journey can be made.
People speak of an ‘Ayurvedic lifestyle’ and knowing one’s dosha. It’s true that an aspect of Ayurvedic practice is deciding what to do with one’s life-time, energy and resources and that having a basic understanding of your constitutional tendencies can be an entry-level way to engage the work. And yet, at the deepest level, Ayurveda is not a health-management strategy, nor is it a lifestyle choice. It is a complete path of awakening, with its own sadhanas, or practices, that take the student safely through deeper and deeper awareness of themselves uncovering who they truly are.
Ayurveda teaches us, through our daily rituals of compassion and care, that the individual body and the outer world mirror each other-as within, so without. In healing ourselves and awakening the vital forces within us, we automatically also heal our families, our communities and our ancestors. Nothing is separate. Ayurveda is a complete path within itself. It takes time, commitment, and discipline. But it can be done. We can awaken to the wisdom already waiting inside our hearts. We can learn to trust ourselves and not rely on other people or entities to fix us.
The path of Ayurveda is nothing less than the complete and total embodiment of our human experience. Through the practices of Ayurveda, our awareness begins to inhabit the totality of our body. Our body literally begins to awaken to its own natural intelligence and confidence. And it’s from this embodiment that healing unfolds. Ayurveda opens, clears, awakens, and directs the awareness through the subtle energy centers of the body. True wisdom comes from the heart, not from our thinking. Soon we find ourselves awake, curious, and energized and actually wanting to create our own way through the humble challenges and gifts in our everyday lives, leading to an experience of true fulfillment in ordinary life. We find ourselves being the person we always wanted to be and surrounded by community and passionate, meaningful relationships. Ayurveda is an ancient, yet up to date, human path of self-actualization and total organic healing within this lifetime.
Our culture has a habit of turning everything into a management strategy. We are trying to manage our weight, our anxiety, our finances, etc. We even try to manage the healing process itself, and can become frustrated when our imbalances don’t resolve on the schedule we decide they should. Ultimately we are trying to manage the energy of life, never really allowing ourselves to come into a direct and honest relationship with it. Even the ancient wisdom traditions, which are becoming more popular all the time, have been co-opted for our constant self-improvement projects. But Ayurveda at its deepest level was never meant to be used as a self-improvement project. Ayurveda, at this level, activates the life force in the body and the entire cosmos, giving the natural world permission to dismantle our self-improvement project. But this is actually an act of great love, as the self-improvement project at some point gets in the way of our natural inborn wisdom.
Of course in the beginning the self-improvement project is genuine. We have to have a stable sense of ourselves and our lives to begin the kind of transformation we are talking about. No one is saying wanting to be free from pain or to feel and look better is wrong. It’s necessary. We must have a healthy grounded ego in order to unmask it. We must be psychologically and physically stable enough to handle the states of mind we will find ourselves in as we enter the gate of true awakening.
But this kind of freedom comes with a price. The price is your life as you think it should be. It comes with the price of exposing the ways we avoid pain. It means complete devotion and compassion towards ourselves. It means letting go of our self-judgement and self-improvement projects.
It also means we commit to cycles of growth that are humbling and challenge our notion of being skilled and experienced. When we descend to the level of the heart there is the most profound awareness of the great responsibility we carry. The world needs us to heal and become the radiant beings we are, because if we don’t heal, the community can’t heal.
So the healing power of Ayurveda is revealed to be much broader in its scope than only solving individual imbalance issues. Its wisdom is that there is a continuity and a joy radiating at the heart of life, of each moment. Ayurveda is actually an expression of Tantra. Tantra means ‘continuity’. And as it is often said, the only constant in life, is change. Life is constantly changing. But within that change, there is a space, which is sometimes called groundlessness. But this space contains within it the never ending, eternal wisdom we need for our own freedom. Through the seasonal Ayurvedic practices the body becomes healthy, the mind settles, and we are able to open to what’s actually happening in our life rather than what we think should be happening, which leads to a tremendous relaxation and confidence in life. Tantra also means ‘Joy’. Soon our bodies realize true Joy is possible in this life. We are no longer bound by anyone or anything, including ourselves. This might seem impossible, but for thousands of years regular people have found the ordinary magic of their unique life.
This is not an ego thing but can easily turn into it, even for seasoned practitioners. That’s why the practice is for life. It’s not just something you learn or read in a book and then eat the right foods. We need to keep awake to where that next step on our path actually is. We need to surround ourselves with others who are engaging in the same process. We need feedback. Without these things we get lost in a fantasy world. Too many practitioners reach a level where they believe ‘anything goes’ and they are no longer responsible for their behavior or having to relate to the ordinary facts of life- like having a job, managing their finances, taking care of their families and communities. Or they believe that because they have a more advanced way of being healthy, their achievement can be used as a way to create division between them and all those other “unhealthy” people. This could not be farther from the truth.
When you start to understand and relate to all of life as medicine, there is a great sense of mutual responsibility. When you feel how your food can build the integrity and sensitivity of your body, when you understand sleep as a place where the barriers between you and Pure Consciousness are removed, your compassion and selflessness deepens, and once again your heart becomes so tender, so gentle, it can seem unbearable the joy you feel for this life.
Ordinary life is the gateway to realization. That is why all Tantric traditions are self-secret. The so-called “ancient wisdom meant only for the initiated” comes looking for you. You are the wisdom. Your life as it is already contains all the joy you seek.
This is why I call my work Vedic Earth Medicine. I wanted a way to highlight that when you work with me, I am there to support and serve you in any capacity. We can work together to heal your imbalances from their root and we can work together to open the heart of your life. No one has to commit to the full journey. Wanting to feel healthy, beautiful and strong is not ego based. it is simply our true nature calling us home.
I just want to acknowledge the depth of transformation possible in Vedic Earth Medicine. And give you the proper warning and invitation. This is not going to be a place where we learn how fix your symptoms using Ayurveda as a stand-in for Western Medicine. The warning is not to keep you away, but the Tantric teacher has to warn the student that any gateway into the tradition could lead to a desire to pursue the full training. And should you feel a call, I sincerely invite you to cross the threshold. Once you begin to care for yourself, you may not be able to help falling in love with your own body and your own precious life.
- Autumn Ayurveda Intensive: Registration open until 8/31/16
- Listen to an audio blog on the Water Element: https://soundcloud.com/juliettrnka/water-element
- Sign up for my 3-month Inner Wisdom Ayurveda Mentorship: Details on the Vedic Earth Medicine page of this site