Monthly Archives: February 2016

Understanding Ayurveda: Part 2 – Who am I?

Following on from Part 1 in this series, 5 Elements & 3 Doshas”, the term Dosha is also commonly used in Ayurveda to describe the different constitutions or body types e.g. I am Vata, Pitta or Kapha. While this is only a partial understanding of the Doshas, it does provide a useful way of understanding our own unique relationship with Nature, and a practical framework for applying the principle, ‘like increases like’, in day to day life.

Just as we are a unique combination of the elements we are also a unique combination of the three Doshas. At a physical level this combination determines our physical, emotional and mental characteristics. Generally, we will experience one as being more dominate, another will be secondary and the third may seem to have a minimal role to play. This provides a range of possible combinations such as:

Pitta/Vata or Vata/Pitta,
Vata/Kapha or Kapha/Vata,
Pitta/Kapha or Kapha/Pitta,

An equal blend of Vata/Pitta/Kapha is rarely seen today although it could be seen to be a highly desirable state.

Prakruti & Vikruti

Our unique blend of the Doshas is our basic constitution or Prakruti. Our Prakruti is an outcome of the unique combination of the elements that make us who we are, and just like our fingerprints, it is unlike anyone else’s. I like to refer to it as our unique elemental cocktail. Largely determined at the time of conception, our Prakruti is predominately influenced by the constitutions of our parents and their state of balance or health at that time. In the same way that the basic nature of a parent/child relationship remains fixed throughout life, our Prakruti remains constant throughout our life.

Our basic constitution however, is influenced by everything that is happening both around and within us. In the same way that a parent /child relationship is influenced and changes over time. The seasons, our lifestyle and diet, mental and emotional stress, life stages, basically everything we experience on a day to day basis, affects the Doshas. This fluctuation in the Doshas, or our state of balance at any point in time, is known as our Vikruti.

The concepts of Prakruti and Vikruti are a way of understanding our relationship with nature and the basic premise of Ayurveda – that is ‘like increases like’.

For example, a person who is generally very slim with dryish skin, tends to sleep lightly, feels the cold, and is prone to bloating and constipation is strongly influenced by Vata energy – the qualities of Vata being dry, light and cold. Based on the concept of ‘like increases like’, giving this person food with those same qualities such as dry crackers, cold drinks and salads will further increase this Vata energy and exacerbate the symptoms. Instead, to help balance and pacify Vata they would benefit most from foods with the opposite qualities of warmth, moistness and heaviness such as grains, stews, porridge and soups.

Our unique blend of the Doshas are the qualities through which we interact with the world. Predominately Vata types tend to believe that it is normal to always be on the move and that to be any other way is just odd. For forward looking Pitta types, strong determination and ambition are part of the usual mode of existence and they find someone who lacks these qualities difficult to understand. Kaphas can experience love, serenity and contentment by staying right where they are. Taking things slow and steady is normal for them, so they might not understand the ambition of Pitta or the way Vatas are forever in transit and looking for new projects.

Just where a healthy balance lies is different for each person. Each person achieves their own beauty when they take advantage of their unique qualities and find good balance with the others. While Pitta traits of ambition and drive are considered admirable in our society, they are not so attractive when they turn into ruthlessness and hardness because of a lack of Kapha compassion and serenity. Vata types are vivacious, quick-witted and charming, but without the caring, openheartedness of Kapha, gossipy jokes can turn ugly. Although brimming with new ideas, a Vata may never turn a single one into reality without some of the stability of Kapha and the drive of Pitta. Kapha with its solid foundation may never get started without some of Vata’s enthusiasm and Pitta’s determination.

Understanding yourself

Understanding your special Dosha mix is a fantastic tool to getting to know you better. Self- knowledge fosters self-acceptance. Knowledge of the Doshas helps you identify and appreciate your positive traits and take responsibility for your less desirable ones. Accepting your fundamental nature gives you a realistic base to work from and supports you as you grow. The aim is not to create a new you but to become the best possible you – your version of happy, joyful and vibrant.

Understanding others

A basic understanding of the Doshas also allows your compassion towards others to grow. When a Vata finds out that her couch potato house-mate is predominately Kapha, she understands why he chooses to stay in every night. When a Pitta realises that his colleague is strongly Vata, it’s easier for him to understand why she lacks the follow through to close a deal. When a Kapha grasps that her Pitta husband has hardly any Kapha, it’s easier for her to understand his lack of patience in listening to her troubles and desire to ‘fix’ her.

Next in the series, Understanding Ayurveda: Part 3 – Vata/Pitta/Kapha Unveiled plus a constitution assessment you can download to understand your Doshic blend

Understanding Ayurveda Part 1: 5 Elements & 3 Doshas

Understanding Ayurveda: A 4 part series explaining the Elements, the Doshas and the Ayurvedic understanding of the disease process.

The 5 Elements

In Ayurveda the key to understanding our own unique state of balance is based on the five elements and their qualities and the principle that ‘like increases like’.

Everything that physically exists or is manifest in this world is comprised of the five elements – Ether/Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Each element has its own unique qualities, and it is the infinite variety of combinations in which they come together, that make us who we are, and everything else in the universe. The real science of Ayurveda is in understanding these qualities and how they manifest and interact in the physical world.

Elements

The elements are present and function in our bodies as follows:

Space is present wherever there is nothing else e.g. the hollow of our bones, channels such as our nostrils. Space is that part of the body that everything else passes thru – even our nerve impulses.

Air is the element responsible for movement in the body; the flow of fluids, the vast communication network of the nervous system supporting the flow of nerve impulses and the removal of things from the body such as wastes, menstrual bleeding and the birthing process. It is also responsible respiration and the flow of breath into and out of the body.

Fire is the element responsible for transformation in the body. Every process that causes one substance to change from one form to another e.g. solid to liquid and liquid to gas is related to fire. This is predominately the process of metabolism, digestion as well as every chemical reaction that creates, repairs and destroys our cells.

Water is the element that makes up the majority of our physical body – 90% in fact. It gives us softness & fluidity. Water provides substance but has no form of its own – just like water in a balloon takes its shape from the balloon.

Earth is the element that represents everything solid in our body and the tissues that give us stability and form e.g. bones and muscle. It is substance with form.

The 3 Doshas

The elements combine and function in the physical world as three fundamental energies or forces known as Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each Dosha has a predominance of 2 elements as shown below, and the qualities of these predominate elements underpin the role each Dosha plays in the body. The three Doshas act as forces that govern all the biological, psychological and physiological functions of the body, mind and spirit. When they are in balance they support and maintain health and when they are out of balance they contribute to the disease process. In fact, they are named for their tendency to come out of balance because the Sanskrit word Dosha means ‘that which becomes imbalanced’.

doshas 2

Vata is that which moves things and exists as movement in the body – nerve impulses, breathing, contraction and extension of muscles, natural urges and heart-beat. It is also responsible for the movement of Pitta and Kapha which are immobile in themselves.

The elements of Space and Air combine to create Vata. Space is inert and so it provides the space in which Air moves. Vata is the flow of life, and if blocked decay sets in. Equally if the flow becomes frenetic, energy is lost and fatigue sets in. Like the air element it contains, Vata expands into empty space, and so bloating is a typical indication of excess Vata that is blocked.

Pitta is that which digests things and exists as metabolism in the body. It is responsible for body heat and temperature, skin colouration and the transformation activities of digestion, absorption, assimilation, metabolism and chemical reactions – both physical and mental.

Pitta is the force that brings Fire and Water together and makes them co-operate to perform these processes. Within nature Fire and Water are naturally antagonistic to each other, as too much of one always overpowers the other. Too much Water and Fire is extinguished, and if Fire predominates then Water evaporates. All the ‘Fires’ in the body contain Water and Water in the body contains ‘Fire’ e.g. stomach acid.

Kapha is that which holds things together and is the force of cohesiveness in the body, holding all the elements together and giving the body substance. The principal activity of Kapha is to build. It creates and heals tissues and the fluids that lubricate and support the body, enables physical growth, maintains the body’s physical environment and is the source of strength and immunity.

Kapha is comprised of the elements of Water and Earth which in Nature have no real desire to connect- when mixed they immediately try and separate e.g. sand and water. So Kapha is the force which works to make Earth and Water interact and combine in the proper proportion. Too much Water leads to disturbances like oedema. Too much Earth increases solidity and reduces flow leading to obstructions like gallstones and cysts.

The next article in this series, ‘Who am I?’, will look at the Doshas as a way of understanding our individual body type and relationship with Nature.

Free to be me…Shelly’s story

How many of your life challenges have come from trying to bend yourself to other people’s view of the world…or to meet your own expectations based on who you think the world wants you to be?12744649_962774923804552_271646333272514075_n

When I saw this picture I immediately thought of Shelly, a participant at last years course, and sent her a copy. This was her reply,

Thank you Mary, I think the fact that all my life I have fought this reality, tried to live within other people’s ideals… is why much of my journey has had challenges… Now, for the first time in my life, I am living a life true to who I am, who I should’ve always been and yes, I am free to be me, a wild, wild woman! Thank you for helping me to believe in myself and to be proud of who I am!”
X Shelly

I was intrigued by Shelly’s comment that she felt that many of her life challenges had come from resisting her own truth. It started me thinking…

Why is it so difficult to be ourselves in the world?

Where do we go when we aren’t being ourselves?

How did we lose ourselves in the first place?

What are the consequences of living this way?

When I reflect on my own life journey and the stories of hundreds of women I have worked with over the years the following insights go towards answering these questions…

Why is it so difficult to be ourselves in the world? Because we often don’t feel ‘good enough’ or even ‘enough’.

Where do we go when we aren’t being ourselves? We live behind a mask, feeling like a fraud and hoping no one finds out just how ‘not good enough’ we really are.

How did we lose ourselves in the first place? As little children we are like a sponge and form our perception of the world and ourselves based on what we observe and experience. Some of those perceptions are helpful and some aren’t, case in point, ‘I’m not good enough’.

What are the consequences of living this way? We waste precious energy trying to hold up the mask, we eventually make ourselves sick and most importantly, we miss out on living ‘our’ life.’

The majority of my work with women over the last 10 years has focused on supporting them to find their power and come home to their own truth. I love being present for the light bulb moment when a woman begins to:

  • Realise that she IS ENOUGH
  • Find the power to step out from behind the mask and be herself.
  • See and question the beliefs that up to now have informed her life choices, and choose to let go of the ones that no longer serve her.
  • Finally start to live ‘her’ life, making choices that support her being a better version of herself. A version in which she feels, happy, healthy and fulfilled.

Shelly is one of these women. When she arrived at a 2WiseWomen course in Bali last year, her 2nd abusive marriage had just come to an end, she was grief stricken and depressed, overweight, broke, and she had never sat on a yoga mat or meditated before. Talk about stepping out on limb.

As a single mum with 4 young children she felt lost and completely overwhelmed by what life was serving up. Well meaning people around her had tried to discourage her from coming saying…”she couldn’t afford it, it wasn’t the right time, what about the kids“. However, despite the opposition Shelly said she knew in her heart she just had to come. So, she organised the kids, borrowed the money and gifted herself the opportunity to pause, reflect and reconnect for the first time in her life.

It’s now 8 months since the retreat, and in that time Shelly has taken her life into her own hands. So what’s changed?

  • By exploring and understanding the subtle, and not so subtle, beliefs that had been informing her life choices, she is now beginning to make better choices.
  • Instead of allowing her life to be driven by circumstance, she has created a vision of the life she wants for herself and her children, and it’s coming to fruition in ways she couldn’t even imagine.
  • Despite being a highly qualified registered nurse, Yoga and Ayurveda have given her insight into what it really means to eat and live well. Her physical and mental health is improving as she consistently makes better day to day choices.
  • She is maintaining a regular meditation practice, learning to ignore the naysayers and trusting herself and the universe.

Shelly tells everyone that her life turned around in Bali when she discovered that she could choose to live differently.

“My experience at the 2015 retreat in Ubud was an absolutely life changing and enhancing experience!! An amazing personal transformation from a perception and life experience of sadness, grief, depression, addiction, loneliness, anger, regret… to a whole new amazingly wonderful life filled with hope, faith, love, happiness, gratitude, dreams, endless opportunity, values and beliefs. DREAM BIG = BIG JOY!

Shelly’s experience is the reason Coralie and I have created the 2WiseWomen courses. To share the wisdom of Yoga and Ayurveda, so that you can create a life that supports you to be the best version of yourself.

I think that’s all any of us really want…to be free to be ourselves and enjoy the ride!

12311330_890772334376240_8810177591851239559_nSo here’s your chance. Are you ready to say yes to discovering how to be the best version of yourself possible?

We know you will come away a better you…we have seen it time and time again…you just have to come.

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India Part 1: The Vaidyagrama Vision…

Vaidyagrama… so much more than a place to have panchakarma.

I have promised a few times to share more about my time in India, the Ayurveda Conference and panchkarma, however for some reason every time I sat down to write it would end up being about something else. My sense is that the topic felt too big, I’m good at that…I think they call it procrastination! I have learnt however, that it doesn’t help me to force things, so I have allowed my list of headings to drift around the edges, occasionally thinking…”I really need to get to that“.

So, today I was on FB…again…that’s another characteristic of my procrastination modus 20160120_122412 (3)operandi …and I came across 2 interviews with Dr Ramkumar, one of the visionaries of Vaidyagrama, the Ayurvedic healing village I attended in Coimbatore, South India. Both interviews capture the vision and spirit of the village, one is written and one an audio. The message is clearly that …“Vaidyagrama is so much more than just a place to have Panchakarma”.

Together they include all the things that I had wanted to say about Vaidyagrama and so much more. What is happening there is visionary, not just for Ayurveda, but for the world, as a model of living authentically. A practical example of decisions being made for the good of the whole community, including the environment, and in consideration of the past, present and future.

Dr Ramkumar is himself, humility in practice, he holds the space for the vision without fanfare or 20160129_152101 resizedseeking recognition. He won’t be happy about it but I am including a photo of him here. He has a natural glow that makes me think of being polished with ghee, and to sit and listen to him in satsang is a real gift. I am so glad you are able to hear about the Vaidyagrama vision in his words. A vision that encompasses…

  • Practicing authentic Ayurveda and what that means,20160115_105345resized
  • Creating sustainable local communities to stop the migration to overcrowded cities and engender pride in being a farmer,
  • Nurturing the community by removing barriers and caring for those who can’t care for themselves – the children, disabled and elderly,
  • Working with Nature by planting trees, raising the water table, nourishing the soil and growing chemical free food.
  • Creating a learning environment, that encourages openness to newness…and oldness.

 

Richard’ Whittaker’s interview with Dr, Ramkumar is written and give yourself a good 10 minutes to do it justice.

Cynthia Sciberras is a 30 minute audio and she asks Dr Ramkumar some very probing questions relating to the spiritual understandings that support Vaidaygrama …don’t miss his responses. You might also like to have a look at the Vaidyagrama website.

Needless to say finding these interviews is one of those times that warrants a deposit in my ‘trust’ account. If you don’t understand this slightly cryptic reference to trust accounts, see my earlier post Setting up a Trust account?. It’s about noticing those times we feel looked after, so we can look back on them during times of uncertainty and confusion and remind ourselves that the universe really does have our back.

While Vaidyagrama is much more than a place to have panchakarma, it is definitely the place to go for panchakarma. Not sure what panchakarma is? The next part in the India series will be all about Panchakarma, the intention and process.

Enjoy

xMary

Choosing Health Part 3: It’s a daily choice!

Part 3 is a about health as a daily choice. We are creatures of habit. What we say, think and do every day is largely based on habit. We say that’s who we are, but really it’s just our habits. Habits are not who we are and can be changed.

It doesn’t work in the bottle.
The doctrine of Ayurveda was compiled by ancient sages, known as Rishis to enable us Charakato live healthily by accepting responsibility for our own wellbeing. Its daily and seasonal routines, dietary habits, therapeutic techniques and myriad of antidotes for imbalance support a healthy and happy life, if you choose to adopt them as a way of life. As Jack, the owner of a local health food shop used to say to me, “it doesn’t work in the bottle“. In this context illness or wellness then becomes the outcome of a conscious choice, every day, rather than an accident or good luck.

Prevention is always better than cure.
The first and primary purpose of Ayurveda therefore is preventative, to support and maintain our day to day health. Secondary is the treatment of ill-health or dis-ease that comes from being out of balance. The reverse of the western allopathic approach to medicine that we see today. In fact, at the Ayurveda Conference I attended in India in December 2015, Dr. Vasant Ladd said” Ayurveda is not a medicine, it is a way of life”. Ayur means life and veda means knowledge or science, so it is the knowledge or science of life.

Illness is Nature’s way of limiting our indulgences.
Ayurveda encourages the enjoyment of life and its pleasures up to the point where it interferes with our health. Indulging ourselves is generally regarded as a right or freedom and done for pleasure…or pain relief. 1910491_956721147743334_3231958357147882133_nHowever if we exceed our limits, lose the ability to enjoy life and cause ourselves greater pain, where is the freedom? In today’s world we are discovering one of the Laws of Nature…that our most fundamental limitation is our body and mind’s inability to endure our indulgences, whatever shape or form they may take. Illness is Nature’s way of forcing us to limit our indulgences. It’s a classic case of freedom versus responsibility. Either we restrict our freedom a little bit each day or Nature will come along and restrict it for us for days, weeks, months or even years at a time.

There are many pieces in the puzzle
From an Ayurvedic perspective the path to our optimal health and wellbeing begins with being aware of who we are, and understanding how all levels of our being- Body, Mind and Spirit – influence our state of balance. These different levels can be viewed as pieces of a jigsaw, and as we know, all the pieces are needed to create the whole picture. In the same way approaching our health and wellbeing wholistically in all areas of our life gives us a much greater chance of achieving our own optimal level of health and wellbeing.

  • At a physical level this is being aware of the foods and lifestyle that suit us as an individual and understanding one of the key principles of Ayurveda – we are all different and different things suit different people.
  • At an emotional/mental level it is becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings and understanding how they connect with our physical wellbeing. This also includes the beliefs that underpin our thoughts and feelings and how those beliefs create patterns of behaviour and influence our life choices.
  • At a spiritual level it is being aware that there is more to life than the roles and achievements that life seems to have become today. This involves finding meaning in our life through a sense of purpose, core values that guide our life choices and a vision of how we would like our life to be.

Does this mean you have to lead a perfect life to have true health?
Fortunately it doesn’t. Ayurveda is about balance and rhythm rather than perfection and control. In fact the pursuit of perfection can in itself create a state of imbalance – especially for those well-endowed with Pitta. Instead, Ayurveda is for those who are ready to take responsibility for themselves, cultivate awareness of what does and doesn’t support their health and wellbeing, and make diet and lifestyle choices based on that awareness. I tend to suggest people use the 80/20 rule. Making good choices 80%of the time provides a level of resilience to compensate for the 20% indulgence. Enjoy!

Watch out for Part 4: The Ayurvedic disease Process

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Choosing Health Part 2: Why are we getting sicker?

1656323_673796265995846_1088060188_nI came across this picture a few months ago and have been waiting for an opportunity to use it – and this is it. It reminds me of those times in my life when I have felt a little bit manic…well maybe a lot manic…actually, the truth is I used to feel like that most of the time. I get tired now just thinking about how I used to live, although at the time I thought I was ‘fine’.

In my bygone Human Resource Manager days I used to work with a delightful woman. She had a great big heart and couldn’t do enough for everyone, although she felt it was her responsibility to try anyway. She had her finger on every pulse and a reputation for getting things done. If you asked her how she was, she would nod her head up and down a little bit too quickly and say ‘I’m fine, I’m fine’. If you listened carefully you could hear a slight shrillness in her voice and a touch of desperation.

The underlying reason why we are getting sicker is because we are disconnected from our bodies and usually don’t know how we really feel. I have never heard this expressed more appropriately than one of my clients describing what it was like before we worked together.

“I also didn’t feel like I knew I had a body, except when it was in pain, and then I would go and ask someone else what was wrong with me. I didn’t question why I was in pain or why my body was not functioning the way it should. I was never taught that I had a body that needed consulting”.

This blew me away when I read it…”I was never taught that I had a body that needed consulting”…if that isn’t an indication of disconnection I don’t know what would be.

Today we often don’t see or hear the warning11049472_10152809589146512_1874818002600189878_n signs that enough is enough, that something in our life isn’t working for us. These often start out as small annoyances that over time become the norm. We say “oh that’s just me” or “that always happens“, when our bowels are a bit stuck, or stomach bloated, or we are experiencing joint or back pain, or have a headache or can’t sleep well…and the list goes on. These are actually the first signs of disease, or ‘dis-ease’. Signs that something is interfering with our bodymind working as it is meant to. That it is out of balance.

If we don’t make the connection between the way we eat and live, and our symptoms or we do, but are attached to that and don’t want to change, the remaining options are to either ignore the symptoms and ‘soldier on’, or to take something that will mask them. The myriad of pills in pharmacy’s, and even supermarkets now, is an indication of what most people choose. If we continue doing whatever is causing the imbalance, over time the symptoms will progressively increase, often over years, and low and behold one day we go to the doctor and we are told we have…………..(fill in the space).

The Ayurvedic understanding of the disease process is something I will explore more fully at another time. It is sufficient now to get the message that it starts with how we eat and live, how we live includes our thoughts and feelings. Put simply by one of my teachers, Dr. Robert Svoboda, “it is the little things that we do every day, or don’t do, that determine our health and wellbeing, or lack of it”.

Another of my wonderful teachers, Dr. Claudia Welch, adds another dimension when she suggests that, “when we have a physical or mental symptom, the question to ask is NOT what should I do or take, but rather, what is it in my life that is causing this to occur”.

Disconnection is also evident in our relationship with Nature…or lack of one. Actually, it is impossible not to be in relationship with Nature, because we are part of Nature, in fact we are Nature. So if the relationship is a given, the variable is how comfortable and positive the relationship is. When we live in a way that is aligned with Nature’s laws and rhythms then we feel healthy and well. When we don’t we don’t, it really is that simple.

Nature is not a fad and does not need improving. She knows what we need and how we need to live. She grows what we are meant to eat when and where we are meant to eat it, i.e. seasonally and geographically. She arranged for the lights to turn on and off at the appropriate time so we can sleep while our body is cleaning and repairing itself. She gave us a body that miraculously heals itself, and I believe, is capable of healing any imbalance, IF given the right terrain – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

So the upshot of this is we are getter sicker because the way we live and eat is distancing us further and further from Nature’s Laws and rhythms. Just because we can live outside them or manipulate them, doesn’t mean it is in our best interest to do so. Nowhere is this more evident than todays statistics on the increasing incidence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke and heart conditions.

In Part 3 I will explore our body’s tolerance levels and Nature’s remedy for overindulgence.

Plus you might like to have a look at our next Living Ayurveda and Yoga course in June 2016 – an opportunity to experience living in alignment with Nature’s Laws and Rhythms.

10644646_862740373750693_4858975674348913248_n

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Choosing Health Part 1: Part of the problem or the solution…

Part 1 of a series of articles exploring the concept of accepting responsibility for your own health and Wellbeing from an Ayurvedic perspective.
Best suited to those open to a paradigm shift.

I was scrolling thru the usual FB posts this morning, many about what is wrong in the world, and I must admit they are all getting a bit repetitious. One was about budget cuts and the Immigration Department deporting old people to save pension costs because they are easier to catch and less likely to find their way home. In one way, this is funny, but in another way it’s scary. It started me thinking about our expectations as a society, at what point are they simply unsustainable under the current model and do we have a responsibility to revisit some of those expectations.

Here are my thoughts in conjunction with our health system in Australia, although I have some difficulty calling it that, because there really is very little about it that is ‘healthy’.

The cost of the current system is out of control. Demand is increasing. There are daily stories about how sick and unhealthy we are as a society. The scary thing is that each and every year the demands and the costs are increasing. The health budget is quickly beginning to resemble a bottomless pit and there really is no reprieve in sight. The current approach of tinkering around the edges to create efficiencies can be likened to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The ship is sinking folks and we need a new boat i.e. a new (or better still an ancient) paradigm for managing our health

So, on one hand we have the health system requiring more money to meet continually increasing demands, (incidence of disease) and costs (new drugs and technology). In response the government of the day proposes to raise revenue by increasing the GST or even worse still, selling off Medicare. These suggestions meet with fairly typical responses, “”how terrible, how can they, this shouldn’t be happening, they should manage things better”.

Can I tell you what I think is terrible, what shouldn’t be happening and what should be managed differently?

As a society, right here in Australia, for all our technology and material wealth, we actually eat and live in a way that creates disease. As a society, we have never been unhealthier or sicker and almost 80% of conditions are diet and lifestyle related. That means 80% of health funding is spent on conditions which are preventable. I am not being some sort a new age health nut here, this is a statement that the medical profession itself quotes. Think about it…80%.

So my line of thinking at the moment is to ask the question; is it fair to decry the government’s budget management efforts and at the same time fail to accept responsibility for our own health?

While ever we choose to take a drug or have a procedure to mask a symptom/s so we can keep doing what we are doing, over a diet or lifestyle adjustment that will remove the cause and correct the symptom/s, we are part of the problem…and as such…are we in a position to point a finger at a broken system?

Interesting question isn’t it?

What thoughts does this bring up for you?

Did you say, “yes, but…”. 934161_10205426279512149_7897867217301512848_n

Be careful, ‘but’ can be a dangerous word. It usually means we are about to offer an excuse which absolves ourselves of responsibility, and no one is more responsible for your health and wellbeing than you are.

I am going to continue this line of thought over the next few days/weeks exploring:

  • why we are getting sicker
  • our body’s tolerance level for overindulgence
  • the Ayurvedic understanding of the disease process
  • what underpins accepting responsibility for our own health and wellbeing
  • 10 simple steps to eating and living well

 

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Creativity Needs Space

A rufous fantail flew into and around my bedroom this morning. You’ve got to wonder about a day that delivers a wake-up call with such a delightful little bird. I was just finishing working on this email to tell you about the early bird registration for our next retreat. I kid you not.

Rufous FantailHere’s how it started before Mr Rufous showed up.

While I sat in the void of writer’s block, my 2 Wise Women (2WW) compadre Mary, emerged from her 4 week Panch Karma retreat in India spouting forth from the fount of creativity. And when I say ‘spout’, I don’t mean a trickle. I’m talking a real ‘gusher’. In the week following the end of her retreat she had posted 4 items on the website and all really inspirational stuff! I was blown away by the energy in her writing.

We talked about what was going on for her that clearly wasn’t going on for me right now. As we talked I was reminded that tapping into the well of creativity happens with ease when you give your Creative-Self the space it needs to breathe, stretch and explore.

In the study of Swara Yoga, the swara or balance of breath between right and left nostril is observed and influenced for a desired effect in the physical and mental body (think, nadi shodana/alternate nostril breathing). The time when both nostrils flow freely coincides with those times we have those wonderful moments of inspiration. To live a life that is authentic demands that we harness this inspiration so that we begin to imagine the inspiration as a possibility, and then into actuality.

Mary had given herself 4 weeks of space and the result was palpable.

If the time is ripe for you to take some space for yourself, check out our 2016, 8 days/nights courses in Ubud.

June 4-12; Living Yoga & Ayurveda, and
August 13-21; Women’s Health & Spirituality (Women only)
Book before the end of February 2016 and get a 10% discount on the Early Bird price for June course.

At the very least, have look at what Mary is up to. If you’ve not yet met Mary, see her interviewed in ‘The Meaning of Food’.

Om
Coralie

Our Guardianship Role

This article is about finding our role as women, not just for ourselves, but for the world.

A number of times over the last few weeks I have found myself thinking about the state of the world and what needs to happen to get back on track. You have to admit a world where we hold babies in refugee camps for years, a world where Donald Trump stands a real chance of becoming president, and a world where corporations can legally poison people because it is profitable, that world is in a bit of trouble.

My sense is that women not only hold the key, but also have a greater vested interest in altering the direction we are headed. Why? Because we hold the power to create life, and I believe inherent in that power is a responsibility to safeguard life and what sustains it. There is very little that is sustainable about the way life is lived in this world today and it occurred to me that maybe it is time to remember and re-establish our guardianship role.

As women, we know that we are powerful, and the cornerstone of the ‘equality for women’ movement has been about recognising that power and being heard. I am not sure however that the way it is playing out now is serving us as women, or the world. I see us as being grudgingly allowed on the field to play, but the rules and the goal of the game didn’t change. Our unique strengths aren’t necessarily recognised and in many ways we are unwittingly participating in the very things that are not so slowly destroying our world: competing for power; accumulating material items; and undervaluing our unique strengths as women, particularly the power to create life. I guess what I am trying to say is that I believe we have a more important role to play than accumulating stuff and competing on the corporate ladder and maybe now is the time to get to it.

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I have come across two things recently that inspired me with a sense of what this role is. The first is a description of a constitution known as The Great Binding Law of Peace used to govern a league of Native American tribes. Wikipedia suggests that the League originated around the 11th century and that it still exists today. The highlights are mine and aim to capture the importance this society placed on women as the custodians and guardians of life.

In our society, women are the center of all things. Nature, we believe, has given women the ability to create; therefore it is only natural that women be in positions of power to protect this function….We traced our clans through women; a child born into the world assumed the clan membership of its mother. Our young women were expected to be physically strong….The young women received formal instruction in traditional planting….Since the Iroquois were absolutely dependent upon the crops they grew, whoever controlled this vital activity wielded great power within our communities. It was our belief that since women were the givers of life they naturally regulated the feeding of our people….In all countries, real wealth stems from the control of land and its resources. Our Iroquois philosophers knew this as well as we knew natural law. To us it made sense for women to control the land since they were far more sensitive to the rhythms of the Mother Earth. We did not own the land but were custodians of it. Our women decided any and all issues involving territory, including where a community was to be built and how land was to be used….In our political system, we mandated full equality. Our leaders were selected by a caucus of women before the appointments were subject to popular review….Our traditional governments are composed of an equal number of men and women. The men are chiefs and the women clan-mothers.As leaders, the women closely monitor the actions of the men and retain the right to veto any law they deem inappropriate….Our women not only hold the reigns of political and economic power, they also have the right to determine all issues involving the taking of human life. Declarations of war had to be approved by the women, while treaties of peace were subject to their deliberations.

As I write this I have a deep sense that our survival as a race will depend on women returning to this guardianship role and fulfilling our responsibilities as custodians of life on this planet.

The next inspiration was a short video by Dr. Jane Goodall, an activist renowned for her work with chimpanzees. Titled a Message to Humanity, Jane starts this video saying: “I am Jane Goodall. I am 80 years old and my job is to give people hope“. Jane will turn 82 this year and as far as I am aware is still hard at work giving hope. This is a woman who has dedicated her life to her guardianship role, a woman who innately understands her connection with Nature and is prepared to fight ferociously to protect Mother Earth. You can watch the video on Facebook here or if you don’t ‘do’ FB then I made a transcript below of what Jane says.

Listening to her speaking though adds another dimension, so listen to it if you can. Come back though to finish the article and share your thoughts.

“My name if Jane Goodall, and I am 80 years old. My job is giving people hope.

I learned for my mother the importance of support because when I was a child my mother supported my crazy love of animals. When I said wanted to go off to Africa at the age of 10 and everbody laughed at me, she supported me and she simply said something that I took to heart and have repeated again and again…”When you really want something you have to be prepared to work very hard, take advantage of every opportunity and above all never give up.”

In my life right now I am 80. There is so much left to do, so I would like to go back and give myself a bit longer. I don’t know how much longer I have to live, but certainly every year takes me closer to the end, whenever that is.

So there is this feeling of desperation, so many places I want to go to, so people I want to talk to, so many hearts that I want to reach. And I am just me and I try and use this electronic stuff and it does work to a certain extent but it is not the same as being there and sensing a person and trying to get in where it seems impossible to do.

Education is not the education we think about when children go to school. I think education is learning from experience and I think we continue to be educated throughout life. Every day brings its own kind of education, and we can learn from it if we keep our eyes and ears open and think of every day as an adventure, then every day will bring us a lesson.

I have many kinds of happiness. I am completely happy when I am alone in nature. I love to be alone in nature it makes me really happy. I am really particularly happy when I sit around with friends in the evening, particularly around a campfire and we can tell stories and drink a bit of red wine. I am totally happy when I am walking with a dog, because dogs make me really really happy, you can just be yourself with a dog, and a dog is always be himself or herself with me.

In fact, when I was a child my great teacher was a dog, a dog who taught me that we are just part of the animal kingdom. That we aren’t the only beings with a personality and minds capable of reasoning, and certainly not the only beings with emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, despair nor are we the only beings capable of giving and receiving love.

The biggest problem we have as environmental activists is to fight the power of money. Because there is absolutely no question that there are people in government who agree, when I sit and talk with them, that this mine shouldn’t be opened or this dam shouldn’t be built or that Monsanto shouldn’t be allowed to test seeds here. It’s corruption really, the might of money, the corporations who hold governments in their hands because of lobbying power…it’s really frightening.

If I am allowed to change a few things, if I had this magic power then:

  • Without causing any sadness or suffering I would like to reduce the number of people on the planet because there are too many of us. It’s a planet of finite resources and we are using them up and that is going to cause great suffering in the future.
  • I would like to alleviate poverty, because when you are poor, never mind the individual suffering, you are destroying the environment because you have to. You have to cut down the last trees to try and grow a bit of food to feed yourself and your family or make a bit of charcoal. Or you have to buy the cheapest food, even if that causes horrendous suffering to animals or supports slave labour somewhere else
  • Maybe the hardest of all, but what I would really really really like to change…is the unsustainable lifestyle of everyone else, we are just greedy. I always think of what Mahatma Gandhi said, “This planet can provide for human need but not human greed”, and that is so right.

Powerful stuff. Jane’s words and the Native American tribe’s constitution give me a glimpse of what is important and the direction I want to walk in because as always the starting point is with me. To quote Gandhi once again…”be the change you want to see in the world“.

This doesn’t involve giving up our day job. The Vaidyagrama recipe for life is enough:
Live simple, Live well, Live healthy, Live Happy .
It is enough to spend time in and show respect for Mother Nature, to eat in a way that doesn’t cause suffering, to give our energy and attention only to people and things that nourish ourselves and this world, to live simply – less is more, to be kind, to value community, to treat my body with respect…the list goes on.

I am feeling even more inspired now about our 2WiseWomen – Women’s Health and Spirituality course in August 2016. It will be a wonderful opportunity to gather as women and explore our feminine creative energy and inner power to heal. If you enjoyed these thoughts you can find some more information about the course here.

Please take a moment now to share below how you would like to take up your guardianship role. Let’s inspire each other…

xxMary