I am very excited to start this blog about Ayurveda, and how it has changed my life. This topic is one that I am passionate to share because so few people know anything about it. While yoga is making a wave across the country, and becoming wildly popular – it’s Sister Science – Ayurveda has planted its seeds all over the country in the West Coast, North Carolina, New Mexico, and parts of the East Coast, but it hasn’t quite made its way into the heartland of America yet.
My first blog will just be about my journey of discovering Ayurveda, but future blogs will be about Ayurveda and Ayurvedic practices. For years, I have been on a journey to “heal my life” from what most Western doctors say is non-reversible stenosis, and degeneration of my entire cervical spine. I was born with mild scoliosis which caused bone spurs, and I developed arthritis in my early 30’s that my pain doctor said looked like arthritis of someone in their 60’s or 70’s. At 37, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, thyroid problems, anemia, leaky gut, and many other nutritional deficiencies, and I felt like I was falling apart.
Going back in time to explain how this all happened at the ripe age of 27, I was in a traumatic car accident that changed my life forever. I thought I was invincible. I was pushing 80 hours a week working full time as the Director of Sister Cities of Louisville, a one staff office, and then getting my MPA at UofL at night. As my best friend described me, “I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.” I was hosting international visitors from abroad, training to run the pre-Derby mini-marathon, and I was at the top of my game, at least I thought I was. In one second, my life changed forever when I hit another car at the speed of about 45 to 50 miles per hour in Old Louisville. Bam! Life changed in second! When I slammed into another SUV, I was sure that I was going to die. My life did flash before my eyes. I was certain there was no way that I was going to live! That accident resulted in spinal injuries in my cervical, and lumbar spine, and I already had thoracic spine issues from birth.
Over a ten year period, I saw chiropractors, pain doctors, participated in prolotherapy, message therapy, cranial sacral therapy! You name it and if I thought it would cure me then I would do it. Then one day a message therapist said, “Have you ever considered that this might all be in your head? Have you ever done any mind body work?” I was pissed and interested at the same time! I knew I had physical symptoms (even though I didn’t yet have the science to prove from an MRI how bad the degeneration was). I then went on to get the testing done, the science based evidence that it wasn’t in fact all in my head, and that I wasn’t flipping crazy! My pain body was screaming at me, and I needed answers, and no Western treatment was taking that pain away. I came to one point in time where I wanted to throw in the towel and accept my pain as my life. In my early 30’s I was going to have to live in pain the rest of my life, and it was only going to get worse with age. Through tears and grief, I prayed that there must be a better way than drugs, epidurals, and even though not legal I had tried medical based marijuana, all of which had side effects mentally, physical and emotionally. I was getting weaker and weaker and more depressed, and then my Dad died. I felt like my whole world was crashing.
In grieving my dad’s death, my real healing journey began. Not the journey of taking drugs and accepting my diagnosis, but my journey of connecting my mind, body and spirit. Yes, it is true I cannot reverse the spinal degeneration that took over a decade to set in. However, I have learned to live a life that isn’t fully stricken with pain. For anyone who has or had chronic pain, it wears on you, living in chronic pain day in and day out is the most exhausting thing I can imagine for any human being. It is no way to live.
In trying to understand my dad’s degeneration and ultimate death, I began to understand the connection of the gut and the brain. We are literally what we eat. I also began to understand that we are our thoughts as well. What we digest in our mind, is what we digest medicinally in our body. What we take in through the five senses impacts us greatly, and Western Science is just now beginning to prove the Ancient Wisdom of Ayurveda – the gut brain connection, the heart brain connection, and that our mind and our thoughts affect our long-term health picture. Ayurveda, which developed roughly 5,000 years ago already understood this.
What is Ayurveda? It literally means the knowledge of life, and it has two principles: to keep the body healthy and free from disease, and to show us how to use health as the path to enlightenment. Two lofty goals, right? And what does that really mean? How the heck does someone remain free from disease and obtain enlightenment? And would you be shocked if I said that disease begins when we forget our true nature as spirit? And that divine essence resides within all of us? When we forget that we have a spirit and that we are just a mind and a body, then we only participate in the physical world. We eat whatever we want, drink whatever we want, stay up late, and treat our bodies however the heck we want to appease our ego. At the age of 27, I had lost my true nature as a spiritual being living in a mind and body that served my egos purposes, and from 27 to 37 my body was to serve me rather than me servicing my mind and body. Over the past two years, what does Ayurveda mean in my life: It is a daily practice of mindfulness. In future blogs, I cannot wait to share my Ayurvedic Journey! Namaste