A guy, a girl, & some heavy breathing: Welcome to Ayurvedic Healing.

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So for about… oh, almost 3 years now, I’ve been a practitioner of vedic meditation*. Granted, sometimes the practice has been more, sometimes less, but I’d still highly recommend it to anyone. In truth, as interesting as the last three years have been, I shudder to think of how much worse it’d have been without meditation to offer some outlet for stress.
*yes, I paid for my mediation instruction with a site & brand identity. Luckily Christian’s a programmer & can do his own updates.

As part of the community Christian & Teresa are building, they’re associated with Ayurvedic healers, who practice holistic well-being. (If you’re from outside California and you just snickered, you do a version of this every time you go to yoga, so yah – Namaste, bitches.)

Anyway – I’ve never been much one for standard medicine. I mean, yah, I had health insurance when my employers provided it, and aspire to one day be able to fund that for myself again, and lord knows if I break a leg, I ain’t prayin’ with a poultice to make things better – high ho, it’s off to Cedars Sinai we’ll go. However, since I suck at therapy, and for most of the oddities of my physique I have gotten the reaction of “:shrug: Don’t know what to tell ya” from Western doctors, I’ve always been curious to go see what Eastern philosophy would have to say. I have some experience with bodywork thanks to my mom’s stint as a massage therapist, so I know it’s not all crap.

That in mind, and with the increased bank account provided by Museum!Co, at the end of October I ventured over to see the guys at vedatherapy.com.
I know, all right? I didn’t do that site.

Gaiam.com, Inc

Once I got to what I thought was the right address, I ventured up the front steps, praying I wasn’t walking in on some family of four who might wonder who this complete stranger walking on their property is and found… a zen garden. Rocks, fountains, very calming — the whole deal. Well okay then. I found the right house on the first try. For me, that’s progress.

A knock on the door and a couple minutes later, I met Damian, who would turn out to be the practitioner assigned to me. Damain’s about my height, wiry, and sporting an accent that I honestly haven’t quite placed yet. He welcomed me, & I stepped in to the house where they live.

It’s clean and airy, with an expanse of hardwood floors and scarcity of furniture. The front foyer actually consists only of a large indoor tree that should seem out of place under a roof but instead is oddly comforting.

I sat with Damian & explained I was basically looking to roll things in with my meditation practice and that while I tended to eat decently and as an athlete I work out fairly well for the average person, there had always been those last fifteen pounds that, no matter what, just never came off when I lost the other 70lbs over the past few years, and now had left me with some fat patches in, well, awkward places, and I was looking to see if I could balance my well-being to feel a bit more rested and just kind of complete the task, so to speak. I have no health history to speak of other than strep throat & chicken pox at the appropriate age of childhood, and wasn’t on any prescription medications, so there was really no reason for things like my ridiculously fast heart rate or the fact that unless I’m working out, I’m usually cold.

Damian listened, nodded, and as I was talking would say things like, “Yes, that’s because parts of your system aren’t in balance, we can work on that.” and he actually had an explanation for things like my rollercoaster body temperature.

I was given my own steppy mat — I’m sure there’s a proper name for it, but basically it’s a mat with little bumpies on it, and you put a towel under it to mimic the arch of your foot and walk back and forth on it. Theoretically, the more tense you are, the more this will hurt, and the less stressed you are, the easier it becomes, and then at the same time it’s an all-over acupressure for your feet, since a lot of the body’s pressure points reside in your hands & feet. I was able to walk back and forth on it fairly well in my bare feet, which Damian informed me is better than some people who show up for their first session & can’t stand on it at all. We then went through a series of yoga exercises which I am supposed to be doing every day, as well as a series of breathing sequences to follow. The breathing sequences involve flexing your stomach in & out depending on your breath and making some loud noises with your breath that really just don’t sound…. zen-like, but it turns out the effort of them is kind of exhausting so you’re sort of forced into relaxation by dint of sheer fatigue. ;)

In terms of my diet, Damian took an approach that I rather like – instead of telling me all the things that I shouldn’t be eating any more, he gave me a couple items to integrate into my diet under the philosophy that if he said, “Don’t eat bread, cheese, candy, etc” the moment those were forbidden that’s all I’d want, which I can tell you from experience of all the crash/fad diets my mom had me on as a kid – so totally true. Instead, for now I’m to integrate more cucumbers, fresh tomatoes (I tend to eat sun-dried) and avocados into my world. Fruit with lots of water content, and try to reduce the bread and dairy, but they’re not verboten.

After that, we moved into his workroom to do bodywork — a series of range of motion, alignment evaluation, and pressure point work.

OMGHURTIES.

Damian did some work basically lining my body up properly, shaking his head at my spine, which feels like it hasn’t been aligned since… ever, and I’m sure he disapproved heartily of the fact that my heels are in no way even. After that came pressure work on my jaw, which he correctly cited as “clench that a bit, don’t you?” and my forehead, where I have a stress-induced furrow starting to carve its way into permanence.

Then he moved on to my hips.

OMGHURTMORE.

I had a thing – not this summer, but the summer before – where my right hip, which has always been a bit squiffy, just… stopped working. Hoff was living with me at the time, and in what is now a kind of comedic moment, I got up to go to row one morning, and just…kept going right onto my hardwood floor because hey! my right hip decided it was done working for the moment. To this day, Hoff & I will joke about her standing over me calmly going, “So, I guess we’ll skip practice today.”

As part of fixing this back then, one of our teammates Molly (a Physical Therapy grad student) laid me out on the boathouse floor and worked on the joint of my hip with her elbow as I alternated between deep breaths and swearing a blue streak. It went, YogaBreath,YogaBreath,BreatheThroughThePai-SONOFABITCH! YogaBreath,YogaBreath…

Somehow, without me even mentioning that little problem, Damian found that spot. Thankfully, since it wasn’t currently flaring up, I managed to curtail things to a couple of guttural grunts instead of displaying the facility for cussin’ that you really only get by working overnight manufacturing for three years and which never, no matter how educated one becomes, ever really leaves you.

Finally, he set up a little sompin’ sompin’ on his computer speakers, & I got to do a corpse pose meditation – i.e., meditation while laying flat on your back, but let’s be honest – “corpse pose meditation” just sounds cooler.

I’d love to be able to tell you what the monlogue is that I listen to, but on that day, and every day since, I have yet to stay awake for the whole thing. I don’t know what it is about this guy’s voice on the CD, but it’s like an auditory Xanax. (Not that I’ve ever taken Xanax, but ya know – this is LA, you hear things.)
I was out, man. Damian woke me up about 20 minutes later and mentioned that he’ll usually set an alarm when he uses that meditation, as he often falls asleep.
Well okay then – thanks for the warning! ;)

After I returned to the land of the living, we had this really fun exercise where I gave Damian my hand and he took this little metal tool and pressed down on different parts of my palm & fingers to see what hurt more. (In case the description didn’t give it away, the “fun” here was less than so.) Some parts where fine, others were right back to OMGwiththeHURTIES.

Once that round of Poke the Pain Button fun & games finished up, we settled back in, and Damian asked, “So. How long have you been depressed?”

To which I answered, “Quite some time now. How did you know?”

It would seem that my spleen is full.
(I know, right? I kinda giggled at it too.)

But yah, for realzies — I guess one of the pressure points that was in the OMGHURTIES range was my spleen, and on a scale of 1-100 of their severity, I got like, a 97. Because when it comes to hardship and pain, I am the proud recipient straight A GPA, baby. \m/

Anyway, so my spleen is full, and because of that I was instructed to stay away from moody, unhappy people who would unconsciously push their negative energy on me & further tire me out. (as an energy worker, this one I already knew, but sometimes you need someone else to say it, ya know?)

Basically, Damian’s recommendation for me (outside of the nutrition & yoga & acupressure) was that I am to worry about my own well-being and ditch people & things that don’t make me happy. Even with the diet, one of the things he emphasized was that while it was important to make myself healthier, if I say, didn’t like heirloom tomatoes, then hey – don’t eat ‘em.

Basically, he gave me what I jokingly call the “Fuck ‘em!” philosophy to live by for a while. My job for the next bit is to just live and take care of me, and concentrate on making myself happy. Fuck everybody else.

As he put it, “If we have to say ‘fuck the diet’ for a while to get you happy, well okay, fuck the diet, we’ll fix that in a bit. The important thing right now is to work all this stress out of your system & get you feeling happier, because your body is crammed so full of pain right now that you literally just can’t process anything else. People are bothering you – fuck ‘em! Walk away. Don’t worry about them – take care of you. That’s your first priority right now.” I suppose that in an odd way, what my mother used to say is true – sometimes charity begins at home.

I was given my own acupressure tool to work on the points on my hand for my pituitary gland and thyroid (he showed me how) and sat down again next to the Tree Room with a glass of warm water with lime, at which point I met Bud. Bud, it seems, is the founder of the practice – or at least, that’s kind of the feel I got from our conversation. He’s a Caucasian guy that was raised in India by a father that’s a chiropractor, so he was literally raised in a holistic lifestyle, which I find interesting — due to the nature of Western society, finding a white guy raised in that way of life is like finding an LA native in LA – they are few & far between, my friend.

So we chatted for a bit, and I was given a review of my shiny new steppy mat, acupressure tool, laminated handouts showing me the yoga & breathing sequences (which is good ’cause I totally wouldn’t remember the whole thing otherwise) and sent off into the world to give it a whirl for two weeks.

Turns out it’s… kinda hard. Not the exercises, per se, but finding the time (and energy) to get it done. I’ve gotten to the point where it happens about three days a week, which is good for those three, but bad for the other four days in the week. Some days I trade off the Veda!Stuff (which is what I shall henceforth officially call it) for my 20 minute meditation of the day. Part of it is just me not giving in to the impulse to collapse on my couch when I get home, and part of it is having to plan things so I can do the work.

For instance? Well, there’s the corpse pose meditation. The whole hoo in the zoo ends with that, and I am finding that it knocks me right the hell out. Sometimes for an hour, sometimes longer. I’ve attempted to set a alarms, and while sometimes I will get up on time, there was also the day I instead woke up six hours later at 3:30am still laid out flat on a yoga mat on my living room floor. Doesn’t exactly foster one’s ability to get work done in the evenings, which kinda kills when you’re a freelance designer.

Overall, it’s been almost two months, and the Selfish Philosophy is actually working out pretty well. It probably sounds odd, but over the last three weeks in particular, the only way I can describe things is as if I am just slowly climbing out of a dark hole. I’m a lot more relaxed, my body is starting to work with me again, and I feel an… impetus to actually do things, instead of just scrambling to get enough done to survive. And I think that didn’t really hit me until Sunday when I walked into somewhere, saw four people I used to deal with every day & thought, “Wow, three out of four of you just look effin’ miserable. Did I used to look like that all the time?”
The 4th person had a puppy in her lap. You can’t be unhappy with a puppy in your lap. I’m pretty sure that’s like, a law.

Next up for me… well I suppose next up is actually creating a proper structure to do things correctly in terms of my practice, and sadly indeed, to take the plunge & make an actual effort to integrate the dietary changes that Damian recommended. This is a particularly awesome indicator of my historically phenomenal timing because I will be attempting to up my consumption of raw veggies & lean protein while diminishing bread, dairy and sugar from my diet starting in late November and December. Should be totally easy, right? Totally…

Also, as soon as I figure out the proper place for it, this decal needs to enter my world. ;)

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  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Kate

    Huh. All this sounds like things I’d like to try, and/or really need to integrate into MY life. The “fuck it” philosophy is something that people have been telling me I need to develop for years now, and I’ve never been able to…

  • Pingback: Freedom: squeezed that one in right under the wire. | HeroineAddict.me









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