Ayurveda, the ancient system of health and healing from India has been more and more in the news lately! Apparently, it has been delivering health and correcting so-called “incurable” or “chronic” disorders of the gut.
Many receivers of Ayurveda’s goodness are surprised at the immense and far-reaching benefits reaped from even minor lifestyle changes. Inducing health simply through living a mindful lifestyle inspired by Ayurveda appears almost too simplistic to be medicine. One of my students, Brittany Barrett, who suffered from ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease of the large intestines, is a testament to Ayurveda’s gut-healing properties.
I shared her story in my book Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (Sounds True 2017) because I think many people are suffering unnecessarily. Many feel hopeless and desperate when they are diagnosed with an illness. Instead of being prescribed medication or feeling like their health is doomed forever, there is an alternative.
Her personal struggle brings hope and shows the beautiful, but pragmatic ways Ayurveda can awaken one’s health, even when the prognosis is grim.
In this post, I speak with Britt in real time regarding her illness and how Ayurveda’s wisdom has changed her life for the better.
Me: Tell me about your illness and when you were diagnosed.
B: When I graduated from college I started getting diarrhea multiple times per day. One day, I noticed blood and mucus in my stool. My dad, who was an ob-gyn, told me to contact a gastroenterologist. When they did a colonoscopy, they found the ulcers and inflammation in my colon and diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease where ulcers form in the colon and cause inflammation, bleeding, mucus and frequent diarrhea. It was a devastating diagnosis because they told me I would never be able to heal fully. I was prescribed medication where I had to take 15 pills per day.
Me: What was a typical day like with ulcerative colitis?
B: My life was awful! I had to use the bathroom urgently eight to ten times per day, so I could never be too far from a toilet. I was also very depressed and had a lot of anxiety. I couldn’t hold down a regular job because I needed to use the bathroom all the time. At that point, I was determined to heal, so I started researching various forms of alternative medicine. It was five years later when I stumbled you're your workshop on Ayurveda offered at the bookstore near my parents’ house. That’s when my life changed forever. You opened my eyes up to the concept that my body wasn’t broken, it was just out of balance… and for that I am forever grateful.
Me: What’s your life like now after practicing Ayurveda?
B: If I described my body as a house, before Ayurveda it was a house falling apart. The floors were creaking. The pipes were leaking. The shutters were missing screws, and the light bulbs were broken. Ayurveda is like a home tool kit that fixed the leaks, painted the walls, and changed the light bulbs. My house now looks and feels amazing. It’s not that I am one hundred percent perfect. Just like a house our bodies need repairs on a regular basis. The difference is that I know what to do to fix what needs fixing. It’s empowered me to take control of my own healing.
Me: What would you tell others who are unfamiliar with Ayurveda as a gut healing lifestyle?
B: Start small. Try a few things that resonate and see how it makes you feel. If you feel better, expand on those. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it has to start somewhere. Whatever you choose to adopt, do it with love. Even if it’s just sipping one cup of hot water in the morning before you leave the house, the impact it can make on your day can be huge.
Me: Could you share one practice that I have taught you, that’s been helpful to you?
B: Above all, I would recommend noticing how you feel after you eat. Do you feel dull or lethargic, energized and light? Start really paying attention to your body and it will tell you what it needs. Overeating is one thing that can create a lot of disturbance in the body, so I suggest starting there. Never eat until you are full. Instead, fill your stomach with 1/2 food, 1/4 warm water and leave 1/4 empty so you have some room for your stomach to do the work it needs to do in order to digest your food properly.
Thus, the Ayurvedic path of reclaiming lost immunity and health begins with restoring normal digestion and healthy eating habits. I go into more details of Britt’s story and the digestion-friendly daily routine she adopted in my book, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom. Refer to Chapter 6 for Ayurvedic recommendations for a healthy digestion and food rules.
Acharya Shunya is a globally-recognized spiritual teacher and Vedic lineage-holder who awakens health and consciousness through the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda, Vedanta and Yoga. She is the driving force behind an online wisdom school and worldwide spiritual community, and the author of best-selling book on the Vedic art of mind + body + soul well-being and health, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (Sounds True, 2017) and forthcoming second book with Sounds True to be released in 2020, Sovereign Self. Acharya Shunya is a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and serves as an advisor to the Indian Government in matters pertaining to global integration and cultivation of Ayurveda and Yoga. Receive her free online teachings and browse her current eCourse offerings here or see more about her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel where she holds live Global Satsangs once per month. Study Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya in her online course, Alchemy through Ayurveda.