I’m very excited to announce the first guest post series of many that will be coming to the Vidya blog! Today, I want to introduce to you my dear friend and fellow yogi, Adena Harford of Adena Rose Ayurveda. Adena is a certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant and AyurYoga Specialist based in Vermont. We met back in 2009 during our yoga teacher training program at Yoga Vermont, and became fast friends sharing our love for yoga, good food, and holistic wellness. Adena went on to complete her studies at the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, and recently returned from a long trip to India to further her studies at Jiva Ayurveda. She’s not only a wealth of knowledge and experience, but has this incredible way of applying theory to everyday life. I’m thrilled to share with you her introductory post that will get you thinking about Ayurveda from a whole new perspective…
An Alternative Introduction to Ayurveda: Coming in through the Window
One of my most influential teachers looks for an omen when she is on her way to an event that she incorporates into her teachings. This morning there is a discussion on NPR about Franz Kafka, and why his bizarre fiction is still relevant in our lives today. You may have heard the term Kafkaesque used on rare occasion. I feel drawn to use this term to bushwhack a pathway of introduction to Ayurveda, taking this as our omen for today’s teachings.
Ayurveda is a system of medicine with ancient roots in India. You may be familiar with the term dosha – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – and perhaps even Sattva, Rajas and Tamas from your yoga study. Yoga and Ayurveda are essentially the same thing – Ayurveda utilizes yoga practices to balance the mind, and Yoga utilizes Ayurveda to keep the body and mind steady so one can remain balanced when embarking upon spiritual practice and progress…and yes, live happy and healthy!
I am often reminded by this same teach that these terms mentioned are not actually reality – they are just a way to describe reality. And isn’t that exactly what a good story does? This is why I love novels – fiction does not give us reality, but it gives us the truth. Our goal is to get to the truth in Ayurveda’s story, and utilize it in real-life situations for more peace, better health, and individual and global sanity.
If you went through high school, you’re probably at least a tiny bit familiar with Kafka’s most well-known story, Metamorphosis. All you need to know is that an accountant wakes up late for work, and discovers that he has turned into a cockroach overnight. Needless to say, he wakes up confused, and throughout the story, attempts to make sense of his situation. So you could define a Kafkaesque situation as one in which you have no idea how you arrived, you do not know the reason you’re there, and you can not foresee your way out.
I believe this is a familiar way of being for many of us. For the most part here in the west, we are educated, relatively free to make our own choices about our lives, have access to good food and clean air, and though externally we seem to ‘have it together’ we still wake up many mornings feeling like a cockroach in a suit. After years and years of this, we may become so disconnected from that self inside of us telling us something is up – that we begin to experience depression, anxiety, or further mental or physical dis-ease, and may even begin take medication to close that gap...
Though we may have a lot of choices, we do not have much real guidance. We copy what we see in media, and what is around us – even though within those examples we do not see much true contentment or happiness.
I believe human beings have a compass for the truth, and so I find that a lot of people and clients quickly relate to the story of Ayurveda. This confused state of being may have it’s root in prajnaparadha. It is often translated to mean ‘crimes against wisdom.’ The first way to treat dis-ease in Ayurveda involves removing the cause, and Ayurveda states prajnaparadha as one of the three main causes of disease. It is not always possible to remove the cause, but in the case of prajnaparadha, we have the power. It is the crimes we commit against our wisdom, the choices we make against our better judgment. Sometimes they are more obvious than others, but it is never too late to start paying attention.
These ‘crimes’ could include drinking coffee. This could include drinking alcohol. This could include not ending a relationship, or getting into a certain relationship again, or avoiding our exercise or yoga practice, or swearing, or overeating, or not eating, or over-working, or not spending enough time with our child, or hanging out with people who encourage us to do any of the above. Just for a few examples – but anything which makes you second guess your decision.
Why do we so easily get stuck in those patterns and cycles of crime, why do we keep with habits we know that are not serving us? I think that for one, we don’t feel like we have a good enough reason to change. We’re not quite sure what exactly the long-term effect will be. That is because the effects could be subtle at first, then compiles into this general feeling of unease, or dis-ease, that we’re discussing here, before manifesting more concretely. We may do these things because we think we will miss out on something – but really, we’re missing out on our own maturation and transformation.
”Do not empower the alien personality you have created for yourself by giving it more importance that it’s worth…Love and compassion for yourself are the strongest remedies that exist for any disease…” (Dr. Robert Svoboda, Prakriti, pp 152)
And so it’s a chain reaction – that is the nature of energy. Energy or prana goes where your attention (and action!) flows. The more decisions you make that are in line with your truth, the more easily you can do so next time. And the less regularly you will be challenged, once your external environment starts reflecting the desires of the internal. I believe that the choices of the masses, the crimes or good deeds of our community, also subtly affect our individual beings.
Your yoga practice and teacher should encourage this growth, as should your sangha, your community. Be patient and kind to yourself, and practice forgiveness of yourself and others. There are larger and more powerful forces at work that we do not have control over. All we can do is to heed the great waves of our existence, and practice our surrender to the good. Sanity can not be taken for granted, and it’s time to start making your contribution.
Adena Rose Harford is a certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant and AyurYoga Specialist offering Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultations, meal planning and cooking lessons, guided cleansing, Ayurvedic bodywork, and yoga instruction in Vermont. Consultations and cleansing guidance can be given remotely. If you’re interested in learning more about Ayurveda contact Adena – she loves to talk Ayurveda!