Ayurveda Day 1: How did I get here?

Today I had my first day of Ayurveda school. I am attending a live class online as the college is in California. I have a full class of about 30 or more students. I am excited to have started this journey and will try to blog often about my experience (hopefully after each class).

But first, what the heck is Ayurveda? I feel like some people know, but everyone I tell about it looks at me with a raised eyebrow and I have to explain myself.

Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine from India. It is thousands of years old with scholars dating its inception to as early as 3000-5000 years ago. Often anything that isn’t medical science is labeled as “alternative medicine”, and this term has a lot of stigma attached to it. People are skeptical of it, as they rightfully should be. However, I think we have come to trust our modern medical system far too much, and aren’t nearly as skeptical of it as we should be.

Let me be clear – I am a solid supporter of the scientific method. I think that evidence based research that shows solid results is a wonderful way to find truth in how our universe works. It’s one of the best parts of being human, to be able to analyze our world so we can better understand it and our place within it. With modern medicine, I feel this method has shown great results, producing cures and vaccines and keeping people alive. However, at the same time, it has produced a slew of improper medical practices where the body is ignored as a complete system. It is dominated by greedy pharmaceutical and insurance companies that are failing to truly help people and making exorbitant amounts of money while it happens. Often if a drug can be successful in even a small percentage of trials in causing relief of a symptom or disease, it is sold and without scrutiny. How many drugs do we all take that have a slew of side effects, and in the end don’t even work to help us? I feel the medical system has really let us down in this regard. It has it’s purpose, and I don’t think it’s a question of medicine vs alternative medicine anymore. But Ayurveda has it’s place too, and can do wonders for people.

Ayurveda can help you not just to heal, but keep you healthy to prevent disease. It is the least intrusive method, and as someone who has suffered many injuries, I can say that it has helped me more than medical science ever has (in fact medical science has often made things far worse). Ayurveda asks us to look at ourselves, as a complex being, in order to assess what’s truly wrong and to heal in all aspects. It is truly a blessing if you choose to embrace it.

I know people need to see it to believe it. They need proof. Even then, people still are weary, and I can appreciate that. But I am sure in my course I will be able to look at case studies, research, and statistics, that show the effects of certain Ayurvedic practices, and I will post them here. I won’t deny that it does need to be more legitimized through proper scientific process in order to be taken seriously in the west.

The great thing about Ayurveda is that it does work, and has little to no side effects. Ayurveda mainly focuses on diet, lifestyle, and management of emotion and stress. It aims to create a healthy person, not just cure specific disease. It aims to strengthen our body, mind, and spirit to create a balanced individual. It makes us stronger so we can prevent being sick in the first place. In the end, it will put less of a strain on the medical system (and our society) and can work in tandem with it.

In this first class my professor, Dr. Halpern, asked us all to share our story of why we got into Ayurveda, and he shared his amazing story of overcoming crippling disease that would have eventually killed him had it not been for Ayurveda. When told he needed to be hospitalized, he bravely said “no thank you” and instead took an Ayurvedic path and cured himself.

My own story is less dramatic, but my intention is clear: There is so much suffering in this world. All of it is unnecessary. Taking a look at the state of the world this past month has shown war in the middle east, a plague adding to its death toll dramatically, protests for democracy in Beijing turning more violent, and a summit to discuss our now irreversible impact on global warming (to name but a few!). Beyond that, individually, everyone is suffering. And when we suffer, so does our kindness.

I truly want to see this world become a better place. Someone I care about very much once told me quite matter of factually that I am a healer. This is something I ran from, although unaware of it, my whole life. Having looked at almost every way I can help make this world a better place, I came to the decision Ayurveda is the way. It resonates with me not just as a healer, but as an Indian, and as a skeptic.

Those of you (if any) who read this blog I hope can have some of your skepticism answered over the coming two years of my program.

I hope to see you skeptics at my practice when I graduate, and I wish everyone all good health.

With gratitude,

S

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