Are you really broken? The illusion of attaining balance.

I have a question for you. I have a question for me. Which is the way to truth?

We have a riddle in Ayurveda, and it's the dance between your Prakruti (your inherent constitution, the one where you're in balance) and your Vikruti (where you've deviated from your balanced state). The riddle is this - there is an idea of a balanced state, because it's goal oriented and far away from where you presently stand. Where you presently stand might be painful and cause arguments and boredom. But what if when you felt balanced (according to your idea of this) you weren't happy?

Middle Road

Ayurveda, the interpretation I was offered, was the idea of the Buddhist precept of middle road. There is a wonderful Sanskrit word that is my all time favourite called Upashaya which means, more or less, trial and error. It's a healthcare system that incorporates mistakes. A mistake being the body letting you know that you went too far one way. You ate just one too many chillies, now you have diarrhoea. You needed to over analyse the situation one too many times - it's too much for the other person and they left. You wanted to take the super duper acrobatic yoga and now you're limping for 5 days.

My favourite way to teach this idea is to head to your spice cabinet and form a relationship with your favourite spices. When you look up the food items in an Ayurvedic recipe book, you will find there is a guide as to the qualities in the spices. Ok so choose pepper. it's hot and it's drying. You get to decide in the hot and dry summer how it works for you and then in the cold and wet winter. It might work ok in the wet and warm Spring for sometime but then all of a sudden feel too hot as Summer approaches. Back and forth you go. You're stressed, your heat rises and the pepper creates a reaction. You take a relaxing beach holiday in the sun and for some reason you can eat pepper. These are some examples of your relationship with pepper. 

Back and forth you go.

A little different from deciding that you need a Vata, Pitta, Kapha meal which might appear to be the perfect solution to that which ails you. The reality of truly following the Ayurvedic mode of living means you are always ALWAYS in a balancing act. Always going from one end to the other. It might seem like an exhaustive journey but it actually becomes very easy when you know how to look for signs in your body. The chillies give you diarrhoea, stop. The chillies increase your circulation and put a rose in your cheek, continue.

In an Ayurvedic science experiment we do not assume all variables remain constant, we assume they are always changing. So instead of solutions, it's ideal to train the client to think differently about their idea of balance.

Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated, and re-imagined if it is to survive.”
— Zadie Smith

Authentic Self

The video below has the charming Megan Washington. She stutters. When she sings she no longer stutters. She spoke on how she wanted her stutter to be fixed, seeing therapists and hoping she would grow out of it. She was advised to speak in a certain tone which helped but felt she wasn't being her authentic self - and her platform is to be authentic. 

I'm watching the video and my practitioner brain turned on. How I could help her? And as she spoke, about being true to herself, I realised there was nothing to fix. The whole package comes together. Her (supposed) Vikruti could be part of what made her accessible, that possibly brings feeling to her music.

What if, deep inside, your Vikruti is a seed to something great? If there wasn't the extreme of discomfort, how would you know how to unravel yourself from something? What would be the bookends?

Most of us are aware of our faults, or issues that plague us, and some of us are aware of our strengths but few of us are aware of the spectrum we have between the two and the relationship they offer to each other. It comes from the Hollywood/Bollywood idea of good vs bad. That there is either/or rather than the merging of both.

Liz Gilbert makes references in her wonderful book "Big Magic" of the martyr and the trickster. It would appear that play more than striving might be the operative in the dance between the worlds. I have always been curious about how former drug addicts, for example, can end up helping millions in their own drug addictions. I was honoured to be able to hear Scott Harrison of Charity:Water speak at Chris Guillebeaus' World Domination Summit this year. Chris had a theme with his speakers, of overcoming odds. In Scott's case he seemed to have led a certain societal charmed life where he had women and booze at the helm whilst he managed venues in New York City. To only, one day realise he was sinking to his rock bottom. In his quest to bring spirit back to his body and mind he volunteered in Africa through a charity. It was here he discovered the very simple solution needed to help all people throughout the world to have clean drinking water. It was then he used his connections, the life of before (Vikruti), to make this dream a reality (Prakruti). The trickster.

The trickster understands that all this world is temporary, all of it is shifting, all of it is nonsense, all of it is fair game for delight The trickster never dies a grim death in a walk-up tenement while suffering romantically from tuberculous. The trickster doesn’t compete, doesn’t compare, doesn’t beat his head against the wall, doesn’t wrestle demons, doesn’t try to dominate mysteries that were never meant to be dominated in the first place. The trickster just keeps on PLAYING. The trickster is slippery and sly, wry and wise, always looking for the secret door, the hidden stairway, the funhouse mirror, the sideways way of looking at things — and the trickster always endures.
— Elizabeth Gilbert - Big Magic

Do what you want to do

When there has been resistance in a client I will gently let them know they have options "You have a right to be sick". It is at that moment that they can consider that they might have control over the situation. Ayurveda is not the only health modality out there that can offer remedial help with healthcare concerns, but where it can differentiate is in the self discovery process. You get to see yourself on a journey from imbalance to balance and observe your own personal spectrum. You then learn what diet and lifestyle pulls you in each direction.

If you feel incredibly impelled to continue to do the things that (supposedly) pull you out of balance, there might be a bigger picture at play. The very best situation for a client to move on from their current stagnation is to really WANT to heal. I can't express this enough. It kind of goes like this - 

Client - "How long will it take to feel better?"

Me - “I don't know. How long will it take for you to feel better?"

A lot of the time other people want you to heal more than yourself. I had a friend tell me they feel annoyed when he hears people tell him the many ways he can quit smoking. Since we're aware Vata is the plague of the majority of us, (stress, anxiety, fear) it means that when you take a situation away from someone and there is nothing to fill it, it's when people speak about feeling a void. That's the space element at it's unproductive worst. If someone asks you to help them quit smoking, perhaps suggest what they could do to fill a void rather how they should stop. Or naturally, when the said person finds that thing that fills them up, on his own time, in his own particular way of moving through the journey of life, the smoking won't hold as much power.

Until then, he will do what he wants to do. All things considered.

Experience life in all possible ways - Good/Bad, Bitter/Sweet, Dark/Light, Summer/Winter. Experience all the dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become.
— Osho


I recently read Dr Welchs' wonderful book on how to be a more effective physician. The overarching theme, and in her desire to always give the most succinct advice to leave you room to explore, is simply compassion. I have a trick that I do when I have the occasional bout of insomnia (and it used to be a very serious issue when I was young). I tell myself I am only having a sleep fast and that it is good for me. Then I get up and do something or read one of those email subscriptions I put to the side. I may/may not naturally fall asleep if it's early enough but I don't allow myself to sleep past sunrise (the trick). The next day I don't fall apart. I'm a little tired but generally I'm alert. And without a doubt I sleep fine the next night. It's just a glitch.

It was thinking like this, in small ways, that taught me compassion. For myself and others. 

I had an excellent supervisor in my intial studies. We were taught to implement Ayurveda into our own lives for the first couple of years before treating others. We would discuss the recommendation I had for myself and how I would implement it. And her comment at the end would always ALWAYS be "but just do the best you can."

It's a mantra I am passing over to you. There might be gold in your Vikruti. The pace may be the remedy. You might be collecting information for something bigger to come. If you can feel ok with your broken self, it will create a thread between that and the shiny you, so they aren't in opposition but on the same team.