The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda - Q and A with Author Michelle Fondin.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old medical system from India. It is a consciousness-based system of wellness that includes prevention of disease, diagnosis, and treatment. It is a holistic medical system that includes all aspects of health and life, from diet and exercise to emotional health and
How did you first discover Ayurveda in your own life?
When I was 28-years-old, I was diagnosed with cancer. A friend introduced me to Ayurveda and the concepts not only helped me to regain balance after surgery and cancer treatments but also helped me go to the root cause of what caused me to get sick in the first place.
How does Ayurveda help prevent illness?
Ayurveda works on the basis of balance versus imbalance. When you are living a balanced life in accordance with your body’s natural rhythms and bringing into harmony each aspect of your life, you experience wellness. Ayurveda offers the tools to be able to regain and maintain this balance through proper diet, exercise, meditation, yoga, healing your emotions and consistently detoxifying the body.
What is the difference between curative medicine and preventative medicine?
Preventive medicine is living your life daily in way that puts all the chances on your side of health. What I like to teach is that most of us are playing Russian roulette with our health. We like to say things like, “Oh, I’ll exercise tomorrow.” Or, “This will be the last donut before I start my diet.” But tomorrow never happens. Preventive medicine includes daily lifestyle choices, which swing the pendulum from sickness to health. An example of curative medicine is allopathic or Western medicine, for the most part. While annual checkups are encouraged, most doctors’ visits are because something is wrong. Then we go to the doctor to try and fix it. The problem with curative medicine is that by the time we actually get to the doctor, the disease is often exacerbated because we are not able to detect the early and subtle signs before full-blown disease erupts. And by that time, finding a non-invasive cure is often impossible.
What do you see as the shift that needs to take place in Westerners’ minds when dealing with their health and wellbeing?
People who live in the West need to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. They need to look at health as preventive rather than curative. They need to look at prescription pills, for example, as a last resort versus a first resort. They need to understand that food is medicine and what you put into your body daily matters. Lifestyle diseases are at epidemic proportions and statistics are only getting worse. Somehow we’ve thought that drug research and research into better medical interventions are the solutions but the solution is within us. It’s time to step up and live differently or we will not survive a as human race.
What are the Doshas and what do they tell about a person?
The doshas are Ayurvedic mind body types. Ayurveda teaches that each person is built differently and therefore treatments should be different. The doshas are comprised of the five basic elements of space, air, fire, water and earth. These are called the building blocks of nature. We possess different proportions of these five elements in our mind body constitution and therefore, act and react differently to stimuli. Knowing your dosha make up or prakruti is useful and essential to understanding how your body and mind interact with your environment. These keys of knowledge help you to unlock your healing potential.
In your book you talk about food as medicine. Please explain what you mean by that.
Imagine your cells as pictures of food wrappers you see in the supermarket. Some of the cells look like Hershey wrappers, some look like wine bottles, others look like frozen dinner containers. It’s a pretty silly image, right? It may be silly but it’s true. Thousands of years ago,
Ayurveda taught that you are what you eat. Your cells are literally made up of everything you put into your body. So you can have cells comprised of beer and chips with slices of sausage or you can have cells comprised of mangoes, spinach, bananas, fresh green beans and organic brown rice. Which one is a prettier and more appealing picture? You can heal your body through the foods you eat or make it sicker, it’s a choice you make every day.
What role do our emotions play in Ayurveda and do you have any advice for dealing with the more challenging ones?
Your emotions and the feelings you experience are intimately linked to your health. If you doubt this, how did you feel the last time you experienced an argument at the dinner table? Did your food sit well with you then. The word ama in Sanskrit means “undigested residue” or “toxic residue”. This is a result of unprocessed or poorly processed food, drink and emotions. We need to consistently process through our negative emotions and release them to not accumulate ama. With any emotion you can sit with it and feel it in the body without judgment. Know that any emotion is normal and possible. It’s what you do with those emotions that determine your health. Like an ocean’s waves, emotions come and go. Detaching from the turmoil of them will keep
you healthy. Use a journal to process through them. Or talk with a trusted friend who will listen without giving advice. Finally, you can meditate regularly and it will help level out your emotions and help you see the bigger picture.
I’d say that almost everyone feels like we’re “on” all the time with many demands put upon us. How can we find more balance in our lives?
Turn off your cell phone from time to time. Learn to say “no”. In other words, set boundaries with yourself and others. Have you ever put batteries into a flashlight and left it on? The light will not last as long if you don’t turn it off when it’s not in use. Our bodies and minds work in
cycles of rest and activity, if you don’t respect those cycles, illness is inevitable.
In your book you write about having a purpose or dharma. Do you truly believe that everyone has a higher purpose? And if so, how can each of us find our unique purpose?
Yes. We all have a purpose or several purposes. In The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda, I dedicate and entire chapter to clues into discovering your life’s purpose. My recommendation is that you learn to meditate and meditate daily. Reconnecting with yourself in a space of silence will help open you up to clues on why you are here.
Ayurveda is a medical system. How is it also spiritual in nature?
Since the practice of Ayurveda encompasses the integration of mind, body, soul, spirit and emotions, it can only be spiritual in nature. The physical body does not exist in isolation, neither do your emotions nor your spirit. Ignoring one aspect of who you are, for healing, is negating the entire picture. Being connected to the earth and the food that comes from it, is just one example of spirituality. If we live in isolation, there is no connection. Ayurveda has always recognized this connectedness and interdependence on all that is when it comes to healing.