If You Can't Walk, Then You Must Fly
Did you know that I was often physically immobile due to pain and full body inflammation through much of my adolescence?
I was diagnosed with an immunological disorder by a fancy western medical hospital in India that my father insisted he take me to be checked out, alarmed by his young daughter's precarious situation.... only to be treated by an over enthusiastic physician who pronounced a diagnosis of a genetic condition, that is said to aggressively put people in wheelchairs! My father was informed that "she may not be able to bear children, nor walk, in fact....she will be in a wheelchair soon if this disease progresses any faster"....ouch!
But hello sir, check your facts again.... I accomplished all of that and more, with Ayurveda!
My Guru, my grandfather, Baba, who quietly watched my father uphold the illusion of finding fixes in western medicine, albeit briefly (and then be crushed) told me quietly, as if speaking to my soul beyond my confused mind and distressed body....if you can't walk, then why not plan on flying.
What Baba meant in his typical philosophical language was don't focus on what you want to overcome ... disease...simply focus on what you want to become - healthy.
It was an invitation to move away from battling disease and to focus instead on cultivating health.
Sometimes disease and pain is a good thing. It makes us open the right door, the doorway to abiding heath, known as Arogyam in Ayurveda. Today I run, despite the same old genes. I teach nonstop. I live my whole life, as I want to. The sciences of Ayurveda and Yoga are my wings. And Vedanta, the science of consciousness (from the Upanishads) is my very heart, my knowingness that I can fly because my true nature is pure consciousness, and it cannot be boxed, even by genes.
This is how I fly, crossing an entire ocean of so-called genetically doomed existence. All this time we humans had believed that genes are fixed and we cannot do anything about them. But now, there is all kinds of research (The science of Epigenetics is the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off) showing that even our genes change or can turn on and off, when we deliberately change our foods, live a healthy lifestyle and think positive and ethical thoughts!
Thank god, my Guru, my grandfather, did not need scientific evidence to believe in the truth of Self and mind over matter, nor wait for modern science to catch up with the Vedas have been saying all along... that our thoughts have the power to change our reality. He convinced me (despite my fears ands resistance to Ayurveda at one point) to believe in myself and my inner potential despite the obvious tragic life situation and give Ayurveda a chance... and that health is my birthright, no matter what. This is how, slowly, despite tremendous pain, I finally went beyond self-doubt and all kinds of external pain interventions, even beyond my reliance on the so called natural pain killers (Guggul, etc), solely by changing my lifestyle and diet to align with Ayurveda's timeless principles, and embody positive 'dharmic' or harmonious thoughts, again as per Vedic teaching of 'dharma' (that I now teach to my students worldwide).
To my surprise and great joy, I went beyond pain, all-together. My inflammation calmed down because my physical, emotional and social dimensions were in alignment with a greater, universally aligned, spiritual flow. My being was at peace with the peaceful earth, sky and cosmos....this is what Ayurveda gifted me. It gave me back my joy, my self confidence and my life purpose back to me. No wonder I am a huge fan of Ayurveda today and I consider myself its humble heartfelt ambassador.
Through the pitfalls of life and unexpected deaths of loved ones that I faced, and losses of important relationships, unexpected physical falls and traumatic accidents, I came back every time, healthy and unbroken from within...and I have helped countless humans reclaim hidden health from within.
I have now become convinced that health is our true nature, our birthright. Though death is a fact, and we also will age and our body will decay with time, but unnecessary suffering and dramatic play out of our health karma while living, can be avoided with applied wisdom, and many so called chronic or even incurable diseases (more than you imagine possible) can be cured with Ayurveda; and at the least, drastically minimized in their impact upon the quality of your life. In fact, thanks to the healing truth and wisdom of Ayurveda, I can finally drop all the masks, the masks of learned helplessness, societal bondage, dysfunctional dependence, questionable diagnosis, poisonous prescriptions, blame and shame. And in this spiritual freedom, I recreate myself, and my health, every day.
Will you fly with me?
Thanks to Ayurveda, I walk with pride. Till date, I have never sat in a wheelchair and I plan to stay out of one...I lead my life fully on my own two feet as a spiritual teacher, mother, wife and friend to the world...finding new friends, in every eye I greet.
My wisdom school is full of stories of healing from the grimmest of disorders (Ulcerative Colitis, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Depression, etc.), all through the teaching of a science of health awakening though a very specific science of thoughts. lifestyle and food that I unfold, step by step. We are helping people regain health, one person at a time!
Thanks to the internet, our classes are now broadcast worldwide, and reaching Health, Wellness and Ayurveda enthusiasts globally. This message must get out more and more is my belief, because it not only restores the health and wellbeing of every human being on our planet, but above all, it restores our collective hope and imparts our journey to health, an inherent god given dignity.
Thankfully, from time immemorial, Ayurveda has delivered health.
Many receivers of Ayurveda’s goodness are surprised at the immense and far-reaching benefits reaped from apparently minor lifestyle variations. Inducing health simply through living a mindful lifestyle inspired by Ayurveda appears almost too simplistic to be medicine.
Today, there is considerable rhetoric about the value of perceiving, diagnosing and treating patients holistically. Yet thousands of years ago, Ayurveda forwarded a wholly practical and usable system to implement these holistic ideals in health, including health’s interconnecting links with environment, society and culture. Let me give you an example.
A man named Duncan came to my wisdom school looking for freedom from the symptoms he was suffering from—and found instead swastha, a state of deep inner freedom and fulfillment, an experience so intense and joyful that he exclaimed, “I feel like a billion dollars!”
Do your visits to medical doctor’s office leave you exclaiming with this kind of joy?
Feeling like a Billion Dollars with Ayurveda!
Duncan came to my wisdom school for a basic course on Ayurvedic principles. That was six years ago. In the intervening time, he has come back twice to take the same course. I asked him why, and he grinned. “I come back for the Ayurveda food you feed us,” he said.
He was joking. Though he obviously loved the food, Duncan was taking in much more from our classes than just “good food.” This sixty-eight-year-old man was a true seeker, actively exploring modalities for his own healing.
Five years before, he had led a full and creative life, giving no thought at all to the health of his body. Duncan had a degree in psychology and an almost three-decade career in data processing.
In his spare time, he volunteered at his child’s schools and took classes at dozens of colleges, finally earning a master’s degree in creation spirituality. He was in the process of constructing his “dream home” on a hilltop, surrounded by twenty-five acres of green beauty, when he fell from the roof and his life changed dramatically.
Surgery helped Duncan walk without a cane, and a bouquet of complementary modalities—Trigger Point Therapy, Myofascial Tissue Release, acupuncture, chiropractic, and a great deal of therapeutic massage—almost eliminated the remaining aches and pains.
Then, in the following year Duncan discovered Ayurveda. One by one, his remaining physical problems were resolved.
Initially, just eating Ayurvedic cooking four nights a week—two at Vedika Global and two with another student who made him khichadi—led to his losing ten pounds of extra weight in the first few months “without even trying!” And it isn’t that he wasn’t eating on those “healthy” nights; he found the food delicious and satisfying.
Also, by the end of his first two-month course, a post-nasal condition was all but gone, a troublesome itchy cyst disappeared, and a lifelong issue with constipation was resolved. After learning the Ayurvedic approach to hydration—a few sips of water when thirsty; no forcing down ten cups of water a day—he no longer needed to urinate every two hours through the night.
With the Ayurvedic guidance on easing into sleep, he now fell asleep much more readily. While he had been getting as few as four restless hours of sleep each night, he now slept soundly for six or seven. And when he was awake, Duncan was “on the go.”
He said, “When I discovered Ayurveda, I told myself, ‘I feel like a million dollars!’ After eight months as a student, I now feel like a billion dollars!”
In the long term, the help Duncan received from Ayurveda was truly priceless.
At age 60, he had been forced to take pharmaceuticals to deal with moderately rising blood pressure and the negative effect these drugs have on the bladder.
Now, because he paid attention to when he woke up and went to bed (dinacharya), gave himself a daily oil massage (abhyanga), and followed a simple Ayurvedic diet, Duncan was able to successfully eliminate all pharmaceuticals from his daily regimen.
Recently, his lab tests were the best they had been in five years.
He wrote in a blog, “One of my goals now is to live healthy, happy, and pain-free for thirty more years, on top of my own mountain in my little RV, surrounded by trees, peace and quiet and incredible views of nature. Thank you, Ayurveda, for making me believe this is possible!”
Sometimes I like to think of the world of Ayurveda as a great mystic forest filled with healing foods, medicinal rivers and waterfalls that convey blessings. This forest dwells outside the periphery of a notorious urban landscape, which incessantly robs us of our health and wellbeing.
Anyone who enters the forest of Ayurveda and merely sits in the shade of its vast and ancient trees is greeted by the ancient sages who teach the lesson that true health is the birthright of every human being.
This lesson tells us that each of us is a self-healing entity who can utilize Nature’s abundant tools to restore, renew and recreate ourselves and that we can do this at any time of our choosing.
As you turn and start walking toward Ayurveda’s enchanted forest, the world as you know it today—with its conflicting medical theories, alarming side effects and collapsing short-lived studies with millions still suffering from uncontrolled ravaging diseases and drugs that scar for life, that punish with untreatable and irreversible consequences—will be left behind like a bad dream.
There is a winding path through this enchanted forest of Ayurveda.
Walking this path requires our inner wakefulness and our acceptance of personal responsibility for navigating our lives. Slumbering, self-deceptive and passive states of mind are not conducive for those of us who wish to walk the Ayurvedic path.
Habits of self-neglect and self-betrayal may initially seem easy. Like weeds, they crop up and thrive through our inattention. Bound in self-defeating habits and addictions, dependencies and negativities, many of us live quite artlessly.
The lifestyle of Ayurveda is itself an art form, a means wherein we are encouraged to meditate upon, to plan and to weigh carefully our options—and, only then, to choose.
Once we enter the forest, the beauty of the exotic and majestic tree of mindfulness begins to naturally make us more attentive, to help us find and get rid of our own “weeds”: habits of laziness, gossiping, oversleeping, slouching, missing meals, overeating, and general, chronic mismanagement of time and space. These are the bad habits that undermine our health and create stress in our lives.
With a little effort on our part, this tree of mindfulness enchants us into becoming, ourselves, mindful.
Ayurveda Lifestyle Medicine, learned with patience and allowed to soak in all the way into your soul, acts as a weed destroyer. The knowledge contained in this has the power to recondition your consciousness and take you beyond your negative habits, so that slowly and steadily, you will transcend the default modes that no longer serve you and gratefully learn new ways of self-care.
For thousands of years, my family has shown humanity a joy-filled path to abiding health of body, mind and soul. And today, I share my knowledge, most humbly, with you. I invite you to make every day a health protecting and health-reclaiming day, simply by the art with which it is lived.
I remember my teacher Baba telling me, that a well-lived day is medicine unto itself. Indeed, his wisdom teachings gain significance more so than ever today, and I am excited for the amazing health and wellbeing that will manifest, through this book.
Read more stories of reclaiming health with Ayurveda and learn how you can do it, too, in my book, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom.
Acharya Shunya is a globally-recognized spiritual teacher and Vedic lineage-holder who awakens health and consciousness through the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda, Vedanta and Yoga. She is the driving force behind an online wisdom school and worldwide spiritual community, and the author of best-selling book on the Vedic art of mind + body + soul well-being and health, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (Sounds True, 2017) and forthcoming second book with Sounds True to be released in 2020, Sovereign Self. Acharya Shunya is a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and serves as an advisor to the Indian Government in matters pertaining to global integration and cultivation of Ayurveda and Yoga. Receive her free online teachings and browse her current eCourse offerings here or see more about her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel where she holds live Global Satsangs once per month. Study Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya in her online course, Alchemy through Ayurveda.