by Sandra Radja
I sat in clinic with Dr Lad and observed that he sometimes only gave a "prescription" that involved principles of home design, known as Vaastu in India and Feng shui in China. Dr Robert Svoboda has called home your "second skin" and ever since I heard him say that, I have thought of my home on a more personal level. It is to be considered in terms of it's state of health as much as my own physical body. And it's a simple idea - home re-decorations make prime tv, people's lives are transformed by teams that come in to remodel their modest abode. Add a splash of paint, bring in some light, donate those things you no longer use and without a doubt you start to feel a spring in your step.
Having many tools in your kit is helpful for when the usual course of events doesn't seem to do the trick. We train as practitioners in a collaborate care model, meaning we refer often when we believe another modality might do the trick. You don't need to know everything to be effective as a healer but you should know who can help when you find the limits of your ability.
Or you can live a life of sheer curiosity and somehow manage to fit many lifetimes into one. Melynda Munro began her career as a Naturopath, then suddenly got an itching to be a detective and then settled on Feng Shui, which appeased her need to metaphorically "dig deeper". She has recently landed on Ayurveda, which is her new love and passion and re-ignited more schooling. When you start a process like Ayurveda, or any approach that turns the spotlight inward, it is natural for the effort you make to start to transform all areas of your life. Your body temple is but a micro in your house temple. Melynda can look at both and see where the chi is stuck. How fun to go through an entire house and body remodel. Imagine a tv show about that......hmmm.
1. You've been a Naturopath for over 30 years. Why were you drawn to studying Ayurveda?
I have been interested in Ayurveda for about the last 25 or more years as a result of reading a book on Ayurveda and the pulses. I spent quite a bit of time practicing these pulses on friends and clients trying to get a good picture of what they had to offer, however I realized that I needed a teacher, and as there was no one at that time in Australia who was teaching, my only option was to head to India which was not feasible or desirable. So I put the book down and waited until the time was right and the teacher and teachings were available.
I think any decent health professional will have periods of time where they question their own effectiveness in the clients they are attracting and of course the longer we are assisting people the trickier and more chronic are the problems they present us with. Some clients will just look for better and stronger nutrients or herbs, but I was looking for a more comprehensive system that had more focus on the cause and how to both prevent that cause and treat it when it had occurred. So when someone close to me started showing signs of a degenerative health condition, my suggestion was to see an Ayurveda practitioner. So I accompanied my friend to this appointment and wow my eyes were opened to deeper and subtler levels of Ayurveda. I also realised at my age and stage of life I wanted something more for management of my own health, and so my journey began.
In my studies the initial area I fell in love with was the doshas and the incredible intelligence of these in our body and how you can track a problem in a person, which is so individual to them. This initially helped me as a Naturopath to be much more specific in individual diets and lifestyle for a particular person, current prescriptions have unfortunately become a bit standardized to a one size fits all. Now, I love giving the beautiful relaxing individualized treatments with the delicious medicated oils, giving cooking demonstrations, the wonderful highly researched traditional herbs, and how you can make an individualised mix specific to that client without the need of a strong alcohol base, as in western herbal medicines. The other area of Ayurveda I love is the spiritual but non religious side. I have observed over 32 years of practice, as individuals improve their health through diet, nutrition and herbs, they will start to look deeper into themselves and this of course is the realization that we are more than our physical body. Ayurveda has known this right from the beginning and we cannot exclude this side when considering all that a client presents. I think for too long science, modern medicine, and many religions have tried to keep this separate, but how can you? We are a spiritual being in a physical body and the two are not separable until death.
One of the biggest areas of disappointment I have in natural medicine products is both the standardization and the use of nature identical and bio identical flavours or substances. These new 'smart' products are being created by companies who want to focus on high-end clients who want things to taste and smell nice, and yet a lot of people react to these substances. I certainly hope Ayurveda companies don't go this way. Sure some herbs don't taste great, however you have better control over the dose and if you have a good rapport with your client, you explain the 'why' of taking these herbs and how they work, then compliance is usually ok.
2. You're also an accomplished feng shui master. How did you come across Feng Shui and has it helped you in your healing with patients?
I was going through a period of restlessness and I knew there was something more for me to learn and be doing. It was around the same time as the Ayurveda book on pulses I found myself saying I wanted to be a private detective. My husband nearly had a fit. However when I was introduced to a very rudimentary form of Feng Shui at an Astrology conference in Melbourne, it was enough to create the spark and I just knew this was where I needed to go. Feng Shui in itself, like natural medicine and Ayurveda, in a way requires the skill of being a detective, to find the cause of imbalances, the vikruti and be able to correct it so chi or prana can flow again, to nourish the soul, tissues, mind, home, environment, the list goes on.
In the clinic for example I may see 10 people with headaches, some need dietary changes, some need stress relief and counselling, others need hormonal balancing. With the advice and prescriptions in place, these people will go home and 5 or 6 will get relief and be happy to continue with what you have been advising, 3 will need further work in terms of treatments and one will have had no improvement at all. It is this one, when they have done all you have asked of them, that you know there is a Feng Shui problem in their living environment.
When assessing their home, the problem may have many factors. Such as sleeping in a room that is not supportive of them, according to their date of birth. They may have a stove, hot-water service, power supply/meter, shower, etc right behind their head where they sleep. There could be a transformer on a pole close to their room, and there are many other factors that I use Feng Shui formulas to calculate.
3. What's the one big myth that you would like to debunk about what people think Feng Shui is all about?
Oh yes, its where will I put my couch and my fishbowl, or Buddha so I can win the lotto.
4. Are the principles between feng shui and vaastu markedly different?
Yes they are, just as TCM and Ayurveda use different elements as a basis of each science, ie Chinese use Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, where as Ayurveda use Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. There are different formulas for each and yet they both work. Isn't that wonderful? I really think it comes down to what sits well with an individual, the timing and their connection with the practitioner offering the service or treatment, that will really determine the overall outcome.
5. Personally I have an affinity for creating a water feature in my home and I wonder if that has anything to do with my feeling of dryness I've had most of my life. If there is one clear home re-arrangement that you could suggest for Vata, Pitta, Kapha vitiation, what would it be?
I think the home often reflects an individual, and Vata will be attracted to water if they are too dry. Kapha people love lots of comfort. Pitta people will often choose homes that need a lot of work, or simply doesn't hold them well and consequently they are out all the time conquering their world.
For Vata, often it shows in their birth chart that they need water. As water helps to hold chi it predominantly helps us to also hold onto our wealth. Interestingly water as well as earth assists us to attain longevity as well, another form of wealth. Vata needs moisture and a little humidity, also a place to be less spacey. Placing water appropriately in the home and outside for pleasant viewing and meditation is essential. Of course there are good and not so good places for water placement according to Feng Shui principles.
Pitta vitiation are so intense in their need to do, and are so strong in what they want to be doing, they really need time to cool off and rest. They need a place that is not too stimulating and is restful. There are feng shui formulas used to calculate the right area for them to use as a meditation room, sitting room or sleeping area. The placement of the stove or fire in Feng Shui is a formula in itself and it is very important to avoid having this in the position that relates to the pitta persons date of birth as this can really set them on fire and create a lot of health issues.
Kapha people or people with kapha imbalances, which is becoming more common these days, are just too full of stuff. Having a good clean out is needed to allow the chi or prana to flow again, to help alleviate inertia, laziness, tiredness, coldness etc. Often these homes are a bit yin, or dark and cold. Sometimes they may be built over an underground stream. So light and heat is required. Finding a good place to have candles, a fire, or a fire pit outside, more music and movement helps them quite a bit.
6. Should a home be reviewed periodically? Would things change as your time of life changes or vikruti?
Yes in Feng Shui like many traditions there are cycles, and the cycles we consider and make adjustments for are the 20 year cycle and the yearly cycle. The 20 year cycle is important as it relates to the direction the 'cosmic chi' breath is coming from and if you can't receive and indeed hold the chi from this cycle, then unfortunately at the very worst this is where people literally go broke and just seem to lose everything. At the very least, it can be a very frustrating time, as you just know you are not receiving the opportunities you should be, and others just seem to get in before you.
The yearly cycle is used when your home is generally balanced and this yearly consideration and adjustments may mean moving bedrooms for the year, to keep you out of a sickness energy, or to use a different door, to avoid a legal and theft energy coming that year. These can affect you by 10% to 45% depending on the basic feng shui structure of your home.
Things do change with your time of life and this can be seen in the chart of your 4P or Four Pillars of destiny, which is based on the Chinese system of elements. Looking at your 4P helps you to understand where the energy is flowing for you right now and how to tap into that. Whether its a time for action or retreat, work or play, study or teaching, marrying, traveling etc. At this stage I have not really had sufficient time to observe any changes that may occur with changes in Vikruti. I look forward to observing and letting you know.
Melynda owns and runs Natremed, Naturopathic and Ayurvedic clinic in Shepparton (VIC), Australia, with her husband Gregory. She also helps others unravel Feng Shui in a regular feature for Feng Shui today and works with the International Feng Shui Association in Australia hosting and offering conferences, as well as her regular client consultations.
Working in the health industry since the age of 17 with nursing, Naturopathy, Feng Shui and now to her new love of Ayurveda, she is a big advocate of sharing education. Throughout her career Melynda has been very proactive in educating students and other professionals, running many classes, lectures, and workshops.