I am writing a much overdue musing today, on a slightly blustery but nontheless pleasant day here in London, with the gut feeling that spring is definitely on her way. As winter retreats, the new season brings vitality, growth, lighter and longer days, and we begin to feel the need to be outside, to socialise more, and to express our feelings.
There has been so much movement for me since late last year, both physically, and symbolically in my work. I have been away from home quite frequently for one reason or another, including a soul-enriching trip to India, and whilst constant travel often unsettles me, it has provided me with a few new business ideas which are now in the early stages of development. I have also worked with a wonderful web designer on my new look website, had a steady flow of lovely new clients, all of whom have been incredibly disciplined in following their bespoke Anala Ayurvedic Health programme, and consequently, I have been delighted to see amazing results and huge improvements in their holistic health. As an example, I saw a gentleman with chronic psoriasis, a complex skin disorder that has multiple physical and emotional causes. He followed his programme religiously for a month, and when he returned for his follow up appointment, I was as elated as he with the extraordinary improvement in not just the psoriasis, but his general health. This has been incredibly fulfilling, and proof (not that I ever needed it) of the amazing efficacy of Ayurveda, and the immense need for this unique, holistic medicine system that brings us back to a place of balance.
I have thought long and hard about what needs to be done to bring Ayurveda more into the mainstream, and how I might help to facilitate this. It is not easy to change long-held beliefs about health and wellbeing, and the concept of health here in the UK has become intertwined with the icon that is the National Health Service, and its amazing delivery of equitable healthcare.
Holistic health is becoming a much talked about topic, because finally, we are acknowledging that something has to be done about the huge rise in lifestyle related illnesses that cannot be fixed the conventional way. It seems that we have reached a point of no return. The brilliant NHS, in existence since 1948, was founded on the principles of free healthcare, for everyone, regardless of means. It cannot, and should not, be responsible for prevention of disease. We are having to learn to look after our own health from scratch, a bit like a child first learning to walk. We are bound to have a few falls before we finally master it, but we have no choice but to pick ourselves up and try again. Many people still use the language of blame when faced with illness, often blaming the illness itself, but fail to find the much looked for culprit. We are hopefully getting closer to the realisation that there is a huge link between lifestyle and nutrition habits, and the state of our holistic health.
I understand that Ayurveda is not easily understood. It is a deep, multilayered health system, and it involves a huge commitment from us to look inside ourselves and question what our imbalances are. This, holistically speaking, means within our mind, body and spiritual balance. In the western concept of health, we see a ‘problem’ such as a headache, and we immediately take a painkiller to fix the discomfort in our head. This admittedly usually takes the pain away, but never arrives at the root cause. If the headache is one that has been recurring, there will undoubtedly be multiple causes. Regularly taking medications to relieve it, means that the true causes will be allowed to bloom, rather than be nipped in the bud. In Ayurveda, the easiest diseases to treat are those where the root cause was addressed from the outset. This includes emotional health imbalances. It is for this reason that Ayurveda’s philosophy is prevention and management of disease, so that we are able to live well into old age. Once we have lived for years with imbalance in our body and mind, this will be something that will escalate the older we get. As we age, we are less resilient, more susceptible, and often our immunity is weakened. Anything that caused a tolerable level of discomfort at age 30, without actually being addressed, will cause greater concern at age 50 and beyond.
I recently attended a two day seminar given by an eminent Ayurvedic doctor. The first day’s theme was ‘The Gut/Brain Axis’ and it was truly fascinating to take part. The millions of gut bacteria located in the intestines are essential for sound health, strong immunity and provision of nutrients, and require a wholesome diet to flourish. What has been believed in Ayurveda for millennia, is now being discussed in modern medicine. Essentially, we need to rethink our eating habits.
Additionally, there is strong evidence to suggest there is a direct link with poor nutrition and neurotransmissions that regulate stress. The Gastrointestinal (GI) tract is known as the second brain, as it contains millions of neurons that send messages to the other brain, and vice versa. The neurotransmitters Seratonin and Dopamine, respectively responsible for mood stability, and pleasure and reward, are mainly found in the GI tract. It is thought that a deficiency in either or both of these is linked to anger, stress, anxiety, digestive issues, and depression, as well as imbalances such as obesity, autism, Parkinson’s, and many more health problems.
Most clients come to see me with issues that have previously not been addressed, simply because modern medicine doesn’t have a magic pill to cure them. For example, recurring digestive imbalances are a huge phenomenon in modern society. Years of eating and drinking inappropriately, at the wrong times, in the wrong way, and even in the wrong places, can take its toll on gut health, and this then impacts on us emotionally. Clients often present with digestive disturbances, even though they have booked to see me to discuss other health issues. After assessing their overall health and wellbeing, I spend a good proportion of the consultation time discussing their eating habits. I find many clients to be suffering from emotional indigestion, and this in fact is often what is taking its toll on them physically. Difficult emotions compromise gut health, which in turn compromises the rest of the body
So, going back to my role as a voice of Ayurveda, I have many new ideas for the coming year and beyond, which I will write more about anon. There are more people willing to look at ancient wisdom than ever before, and I feel that my message, which I have been determined to spread since I started my work, is finally not falling on deaf ears.
My belief, ever since I first began my training in Ayurveda, has always been that it is the answer to so many of the imbalances of modern life. I love nothing more than talking to people who have understood a little about it, and are keen to know more. I make it clear to those who express an interest, that if we rediscover the ancient art of Ayurveda, the importance of being in sync with the flow of the universe, and tuning in to ourselves, we will find a deeper fulfilment in our lives through optimum health and wellbeing.
The tide is turning. I feel it in my gut.