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Ayurvedic Wisdom for Healing Depression
By Gina Mastroluca

Sunset grassAyurveda, the ancient medicine of India, offers practical wisdom and insights into the causes and healing of modern depression. Depression can leave us feeling isolated, cut off from relationships and blocked from realizing our full potential. With gentle support, we can begin to restore a sense of wholeness and freedom from anxiety, fear and disturbing emotions. Cultivating a healthy mind, including an awareness of our interconnection with all of life, is central to the practice of ayurveda. All ayurvedic interventions reconnect us to the flow of life energy, so that we can heal and continue on the path of our full potential. Nutrition, herbal medicine and meditation are three main healing practices that attend to the causes of depression and restore the flow of health.

Ayurveda views each individual as an expression of the five elemental qualities of the natural world—air, fire, water, earth and space. Just as the elements are flowing dynamically through the environment, they are also continuously flowing through the channels of our being. The earth element is the nutrients from our food, the water element circulates through our blood, solar light brings warmth and metabolism to each cell and our every breath depends upon the air around us. These elements have distinct qualities that combine within us to create the three primary constitutions or doshas. The doshas are vata (space and air), pitta (fire and water), and kapha (earth and water).

Through understanding the five elements and the three doshas, we can come to recognize our unique, fundamental bio energetic constitution or prakruti. We can gain insight into our tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. With the knowledge of our prakruti, we can begin to place our symptoms into a context.

There are many causes that can imbalance our prakruti and the flow of prana through our mind-body. Ayurveda seeks to understand the whole picture of a person’s life: nutritional habits, digestion, sleep patterns, work, environmental influences, relationships, and sources of stress. Our life experiences and the symptoms of depression reveal valuable information about the underlying imbalance and causes. By determining the cause of depression, we can begin lifestyle changes and practical interventions to heal and restore balance. We can then apply the law of opposites—the principle that opposite energetic qualities bring balance.

For example, when a kapha person has depressive symptoms of sluggishness, cloudy thinking and sadness, then engaging in vigorous movement, eating spicy, warming, foods and herbs, and seeking mental stimulation can be strong medicine. In contrast, a depressed vata person is ungrounded, overstimulated and anxious. A daily routine of resting, meditating, and eating heavy, nourishing foods are essential steps to reduce anxiety, sleeplessness and fatigue. Pitta depression can be seen as irritability, anger and a tendency towards over activity and burn out. This hot pitta depression could benefit from balancing work and activity with leisure and rest. Medicine for pitta would include meditation, moderate exercise and cooling foods and herbs. Verbal and creative expression can also help release the deeper feelings behind the anger and irritablity.

Nutrition for the Mind and Heart

Depression is a sign that we are depleted and need to nourish and strengthen our mind-body. Depletion can be caused by chronic stress, overwork, a stressful experience that has not been fully integrated, toxic foods, harmful eating habits, and over stimulation. Depletion and toxicity go hand and hand. Ama is the toxicity of undigested food and undigested experience caused by disturbed digestive fire or agni. To clear ama, we balance agni. When agni is balanced, digestion improves and we assimilate nutrients deeply into the body’s tissues. When we are clear of ama and our agni is balanced, meals can be medicinal and have a restorative effect on the nervous system, the mind and the whole body.

What we eat, when we eat, and in what state of mind we eat can improve the symptoms of depression and help to heal the root imbalance. When deciding what to eat, Ayurveda suggest foods that have the opposite energetic qualities of the doshic symptoms of depression. For example, a person with symptoms of anxiety, fatigue and insomnia could benefit from eating foods that have nourishing, calming and grounding qualities. Ayurveda provides helpful and detailed lists of foods to balance each of the doshas. When and in what state of mind we eat have a profound and cumulative affect on our state of well-being. When we eat moderately, at regular times, and in a settled and relaxed environment, this has a supportive and healing effect on our digestion, mind and emotions.

Our body and mind need strength and reserves to be able to stabilize moods, calm ourselves down and initiate restful sleep. This inner reserve of strength and vitality, called ojas, is the essence of good nutrition and complete assimilation. Ojas is the underlying strength, immunity and endurance of our body tissues and mind. Without ojas, prana cannot be held and contained and is quickly dissipated. Ojas sustains us and gives us mental and emotional stability, calm and contentment. We must have a reserve of ojas to heal from depression.

Herbal Allies

GingerLike foods, all herbs have energetic qualities and tastes that will balance the doshas and thereby address the underlying cause of depression. Herbs are part of the great wisdom and consciousness of the natural world and they remind us of our wholeness, our interconnection and innate harmony with the macrocosm.

There is a vast pharmocopeia of ayurvedic botanicals and a skilled ayurvedic physician draws upon this wealth in a very precise way to heal the mind. In a more general way, we can integrate herbs into our daily routine to balance digestive fire and nourish the nervous system and other tissues of the body.

Familiar herbs such as ginger, black pepper, thyme, and fennel kindle digestive fire to clear toxins, improve assimilation and bring a sense of spark or vitality to the senses and mind. Botanicals can also help clear the detoxification channels so that assimilation and optimal function of the tissues is greatly enhanced. The three fruit formula, triphala, gently cleanses the GI tract, the liver and also has a rejuvenating effect on the body and mind.

Rejuvenative herbs called rasayanas nourish and strengthen the body’s tissues and help rebuild vitality and resilience to stress. Ashwagandha, shatavari, and gotu kola are examples of important rasayanas that are tremendously nourishing and stabilizing for the nervous system. Rasayana botanicals give us the systemic strength to balance and stabilize our thoughts and moods.

Flowers and aromatic plants are powerful allies in healing depression. Essential oils such as pure rose, jasmine and sandalwood have a direct and potent therapeutic influence on the limbic system of the brain where emotions are processed. We inhale the concentrated oils directly and the scent relaxes, heals, and uplifts the mind and heart. We could say that essential oils bring sunlight, beauty and the prana of the natural world deeply into the heart-mind. The taste and aroma of herbs help to clear ama, balance digestion, nourish the body and evoke states of deep contentment and joy.

Meditation is Medicine

MeditationMeditation practice is central to healing imbalances of the heart and mind. With practice, we can begin to settle the mind’s constant activity and expand our perspective of who we are. We can experience universal awareness and come to discover our place in the web of life. Meditation practices work directly on cleansing disturbing thoughts and emotions and help us to cultivate a calm and peaceful or sattvic state of mind.

It seems that we are constantly ruminating about the past, anticipating the future and distracted by external stimulation. We carry the past and the future into our moment-to-moment experience and this distracts us from fully engaging in our lives. This makes it difficult to enjoy and savor what is good and wonderful and drains us of the energy and awareness to change those things that are not working. Meditation helps us to digest and assimilate past experience and cultivate compassion for ourselves and others.

With meditation practice, we are able to reduce and resolve anxiety, restlessness, and fatigue. When we practice returning again and again to the breath, we are learning to stabilize and rest our mind internally and in present awareness. Gradually, we are able to create space in our mind to see the mechanics of depleting thoughts, beliefs and emotions and to let them go. A spacious and stable mind allows us to feel calm and replenished and helps bring balance to our sleep cycles and bodily rhythms. Ayurveda views meditation as an essential health practice to free ourselves from depression. Then, we can experience the full awareness and joy of who we are.

When we begin to feel symptoms of depression, our whole being lets us know that something is off balance. We feel drained of vitality and enthusiasm which limits our capacity to experience our fullest potential. Ayurveda views cultivating mental health as a spiritual path. We can balance the mind through practices to care for the body. And the body is restored and revitalized by our kindness and care for the mind and heart. This allows us to reestablish the flow of healing energy and to feel in harmony with the world around us. When our biorhythms are in sync with the greater biorhythms of the natural world, we feel a deep sense of well-being and life tends to flow.

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The Alchemy of Fragrance
By David Crow, L.Ac.

The Alchemy of Fragrance

There are deep and mysterious relationships among the soil, water, sunlight, and air, and the bodies of plants that absorb and transform these elements. There are wondrous alchemies in the transmutation of these elements by plants into foods, medicines, and fragrances. An aromatic plant creates its fragrance from nutrients of the soil and its symbiotic microbial ecologies. When we breathe that perfume, we are breathing the breath of the living soil.

An aromatic plant creates its fragrance from radiant solar energy, in a biorhythm set in motion by the sun, moon, and stars. When we breathe that perfume, we are breathing the breath of the celestial heavens. An aromatic plant creates its fragrance from springs, dew, rains, snowmelt, and underground streams. When we breathe that perfume, we are breathing the breath of the living waters. An aromatic plant creates its fragrance from wind and breezes. When we breathe that perfume, we are breathing the breath of the sky.

There are deep and mysterious relationships among the movement of the heavens, the environmental elements, the aromatic molecules created by the plants, and the atmosphere that is their medium of travel. There is a deep and mysterious relationship between the atmosphere and the human breath.

There are deep and mysterious relationships among the aromatic molecules traveling through the atmosphere, the human breath, and the neurochemical changes that occur as fragrances enter the brain. There is a deep and mysterious relationship between the neurochemical changes created by the aromatic molecules in the brain, and the effects these have on consciousness.

There are deep and mysterious relationships among the movements of consciousness, the fluctuations of mentation, and the flow of time and space. Ultimately these are one living mystery, from the movement of the heavens to the creation of reality by the human mind. Knowing this, we can purify the world.

Putrid, fetid, rancid, noxious, repulsive, and unpleasant odors arise from conditions of poverty and hunger, war and violence, ignorance and unawareness, lack of sanitation, and toxic pollution. They are the breath of pathogens, the smell of epidemics, and the scent of death. They cause unhappiness, agitation, aggression, and dullness in the human mind.

Fresh, clean, attractive, enjoyable, and pleasant smells arise from conditions of environmental stewardship and ecological balance, sanitation and cleanliness, social and spiritual well-being. They are the breath of health and the scent of vitality. They cause happiness, serenity, compassion, and greater awareness in the human mind.

To transform the growing realms of human misery to realms of happiness and fulfillment of human potential, we must now wisely cooperate to plant gardens perfumed with beautiful fragrances and living pharmacies of aromatic medicines. Humanity does not need more weapons. It needs balms of lavender, rose, and neroli that promote peaceful sleep, reduce stress and tension, calm anxiety and nervousness, pacify irritation and anger, and free the mind from depression and fear.

The world does not need more disease-causing toxic chemicals and mutated biological experiments, concocted in secrecy and spread across the globe in defiance of scientific reason, human sanity, public health, and democratic process. It needs unguents of frankincense and vetiver that cool fevers and inflammation. It needs elixirs of osha, rosemary, and ginger that stimulate and strengthen the immune system, and purifying essences of pine, fir, spruce, and cedar that disinfect the mucous membranes. It needs salves of helichrysum, chamomile, and champa that cure skin diseases.

Society does not need more electronic gadgets, microwave-based communication systems, high-tech entertainment devices, faster computers, and fancier software. We need to anoint each other with fragrances that promote emotional openness, quiet the mind, build inner strength, overcome isolation, enhance intimacy, and support truthful communication. We need noble aphrodisiacs of sandalwood, jasmine, and lotus that help men transform pathological lust into passionate love, and help women transform their fear and hatred of men's violence, aggression, and stupidity into nourishing powerful sensuality.

When peaceful cities are blessed with myriad sweet floral scents, when healthy forests are filled with balsamic coniferous perfumes, when farms are enveloped in the earthy aromas of healthy soil and robust crops, when homes are infused with temple essences that bring joy and tranquility, we will understand why the ancients taught that plants were gifts from heaven.

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daisyHeal Grief Mindfully
By Gina Mastroluca
From Body Sense Magazine

"In my practice as an energy bodyworker, I see the ways grief expresses itself in the body: tightness in the chest; restriction in the breath; rigidity in the neck, shoulders, hips and low back; congestion in the lungs. A person may feel depressed, anxious, or fearful. They may be weak or lacking in energy. The human body shows us the internal stress and tension of resisting change and letting go."

Download the full article. (PDF 372KB)

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Balancing Pitta Energy
By Gina Mastroluca

Red leavesPitta is one of the three mind/body constitutions in the holistic healing science of Ayurveda.  Pitta means to heat or transform and is a biological combination of fire and water.  We all have some Pitta energy in us!  Understanding the fundamental principles of Pitta will help us to get to know ourselves more deeply. We can learn what to include and what to let go of as we create a healthy, balanced, and meaningful life.

Pitta is the energy of transformation in the body; it governs digestion, assimilation, appetite, body temperature, metabolism, immunity, and hormonal balance.  Mentally and emotionally, Pitta allows us to determine the thoughts, relationships, emotions and environments that are supportive and nourishing and that which are toxic.  A healthy system can integrate the nourishing and let go of the toxic.

Pitta Qualities and Tendencies

Pitta energy tends to be perceptive, active, expressive, intelligent, articulate, and ambitious.  A Pitta person can be visionary, focused, clear, determined, organized, rational, systematic, driven, precise, extreme, opinionated, controlled, righteous, intense, warm, joyous, playful and humorous.

How can we identify when there is too much heat or Pitta in the mind?
With too much Pitta in the mind there is a tendency to suppress emotional feelings and expression.  This often shows itself as irritability, frustration, blaming, judging, and holding oneself to a very high standard.  One can have an underlying fear of not being perfect and feel unloved or unrecognized.  This can lead to low self-esteem, a pervasive feeling of not being good enough, and fear of criticism.

A person with high Pitta can be demanding of others and more so of themselves. This may cause paralysis or an unwillingness to try anything for fear of not being good enough. There can be anxiety and debilitating depression.  One can feel angry that life is not perfect and that they are not perfect. Heat in the mind may manifest as anxiety about getting things right, obsessive thinking and compulsiveness. These negative and critical thoughts burn ojas— our natural immunity and joie de vie.

Physical Manifestations of Pitta Imbalance:

A person may have overly-acidic blood, inflammation, rashes, acne, skin problems, digestive problems, eating problems, hot flashes, chronic infection, bronchitis, gastritis, colitis, sinusitis, headaches, anxiety, allergies, addictions, insomnia, and low energy.

What Contributes to Excess Pitta?

Pitta people are most vulnerable to aggravation between the hours of 10pm-2 am and 10am-2 pm. Pitta energy is most active in those between 18-50 years of age.

Swiss lake

Balancing Pitta Heat:

To begin to balance Pitta, it is essential to consider lifestyle, foods, herbs, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, relationships, and exercise.

A transformational spiritual practice for Pitta is beginning to accept ourselves as we are. We can experiment with gentleness, humor and compassion for ourselves and others. Time for play, renewal and noticing what we are grateful for cools and nurtures Pitta mind.

Mindfulness Meditation is transformative and helps to release suppressed emotions, repetitive thought patterns and bring peace of mind.

The stomach and small intestine are the center of Pitta in the body. It can be very effective to clear heat through purgation with gentle cleansers such as triphala, psyllium seed, flax husk, dandelion root, castor oil, mango juice, raisins and prunes.

Aloe vera juice clears heat from blood, liver and stomach—up to 2 Tbsp 3 times a day with a pinch or turmeric for general tonic.  Can mix with organic apple juice. Take cool or at room temp--not cold.

Monitor your results for a few weeks.

BarleyFOOD Tips for Reducing Pitta:

Eat at regular times and in a calm and settled environment

Avoid or reduce-- spicy, sour, and salty
Coffee, raw onions, garlic, salsa, tomatoes, orange juice, fermented foods, yogurt, sauerkraut, grapefruit, wine and alcohol, white sugar, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, black pepper, cheese, pasta, red meat, soy, oily and fried foods

Emphasize sweet, bitter and astringent

Sweet: grains- rice, oats, barley, wheat
Oatmeal w/coconut or rice milk (oats are cooling and anti-inflammatory)
Chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, shrimp
Nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Nuts assimilate best to be ground or soaked and not salted
Almond, rice, coconut milk
Sweet potatoes, root vegetables, zucchini
Sweet fruits: pears bananas, melons, peaches, plums, papaya, mango, figs, and dates

Bitter: radicchio, lettuce, cucumbers, chamomile, dandelion

Astringent: apples, cabbage, collards, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, honey, rose

Eat at regular times with fruit snacking in between meals
Warm Foods easy to digest and cooling
Coconut water
Ghee (in moderation and replacing butter)
Warm, cool or room temp water-- no ice— a bit of lime before meal

Cooling Herbs and Teas:  fennel, lemon balm, mint, lemongrass, fenugreek, coriander, cilantro, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, rose, lavender, and chamomile.

Balancing Digestion: See Agni article

Exercise for Pitta

Favor walking, biking, swimming
Gentle yoga:
Cooling forward bends, moon salutation, the child, spinal twists
Left nostril (Lunar) breathing:  inhale thru the left and exhale through the right
Brahmari breath, shetali breath

Enjoy getting to know your Pitta dimensions!  You could consult a practitioner trained in Ayurveda for more in depth information and support tailored to your specific constitutional needs.

© 2009 Gina Mastroluca    top

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The Invincible Bodyworker: Surrendering to Winter Illness
By Gina Mastroluca

This winter when I began to experience the familiar symptoms of the common cold, I felt discouraged and upset. As a holistic bodyworker, I took such excellent care of myself how could I be getting another cold? It seemed I hadn't done enough to make myself invincible, I felt I was disappointing the people in my personal and professional life who counted on me to be strong.

I immediately took up my arsenal - vitamin C, goldenseal, echinacea, hot tea, lavender infused baths, saline nasal cleanses and my humidifier by my bedside. Ready and alert, I would marshal my immune system to maintain my health at all costs.

I examined the possibilities for ripe germ contact. Perhaps my nephew had brought it home from school. Somehow, my defense systems were weak and I was a victim of the nastiest of cold viruses. At least if I'm going to get sick, I thought, let me savor the pleasures of compromising my health.

A client of mine whose son returned home from school with a vicious flu told me in desperate defeat - "I sprayed the entire house with Lysol! It was as sterile as a laboratory!" As I listened, I saw her in a superwoman's cape with cleaning agent in hand flying around her home spraying and wiping with unmatched intensity. Still, she got the flu. What else could she have done?

On the third day of suffering, I collapsed on the couch surrounded in a moat of self-healing remedies. I resisted my vigilant hourly trip to the bathroom to rinse my sinuses in a saline solution. I just lay there, the midwinter sun was weak and diffuse. A drift of snow clinging to the side of a ledge let go, fell and was buffered by the deep snow beneath. All was still. The world, my neighbors and friends were out there somewhere engaging their upright bodies in the daily activities of life.

Feeling weak and utterly defeated, I called to cancel the next day's appointments. I had tried everything, nothing was working. I considered the possibility that my body wouldn't or couldn't bring me back to health. I could even die from this cold virus! Many people have died from seemingly trivial ailments, haven't they? Who would help my clients to stay healthy?

Snow on treeThen, something enlivening happened. I surrendered. I missed the world, but the stillness and light in my small room pacified me. What if my body had willingly taken on this virus in order to stimulate some much needed cleansing? Maybe I needed to rest and discharge a backlog of stress and toxins.

And on a deeper level, perhaps my spirit was ripe for the opportunity to practice vulnerability and letting go. Surrendering to the vulnerabilities and inaction of the common cold guided me to reflect (almost cheerfully) on the cycles of death and birth that govern our natural lives - what Elizabeth Kubler Ross calls the "little deaths." And once again to recognize the human desire to be in control, to be in action, to appear strong. None of us are invulnerable to the emotional, mental and physical stresses of living. And like the built-in cycle of sleep, maybe an occasional virus or flu plays an intelligent role in the body's cycles and seasons of cleansing, clearing and regenerating. What depths there are to know about oneself in fully retreating into even the most common cold. How mysterious our innate healing wisdom is, acting continuously in countless ways on our behalf. And how wondrous it feels to be well again!

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What is Polarity Therapy?
An interview with Gina Mastroluca

Why do you do what you do?

I love working one on one with people who are seeking greater health, wholeness and self-expression. Originally, I was exploring mind-body approaches to wellness for my family and myself.  I received a polarity session and I felt a tremendous sense of peace and well-being.  I felt my heart open and my body awareness expand.  I left the session with a tangible sense of greater possibility for my health and all aspects of my life.  I knew immediately I would want to share this profound healing art with others as a practitioner.  

MeditationWhat exactly is Polarity Therapy?

The philosophy of Polarity Therapy is simple:  We are made up of energy. Science now tells us that we are more energy than matter! The ancient health system of India refers to this energy as prana.  When the energy within us is flowing freely and in balance we experience a wonderful sense of well-being which includes greater physical health. So, Polarity Therapy is a beautiful hands-on healing art of strengthening and balancing human energy flow for a healthy, vibrant, body, mind and spirit.  

What happens then, when it is not flowing well?

Did you ever have a day when you hit all the red lights? Ever been stuck in traffic?  This is what it feels like in your body.  There is a sense of stuckness, nothing is working smoothly on the inside or the outside.  You feel tired, frustrated, irritable, low energy.  If your energy pathways remain stuck consistently over time you can imagine how your relationships and work begin to feel.  And when your energy pathways are blocked, physical symptoms and pain are more likely to develop.

Can you see the energy blocks?

I am trained to see, feel, and sense where energy flows and where it blocks.  More often, I help my clients sense energy flow within their bodies.  I show them how to nurture and enhance their energy system for a healthier body and spirit.   This is a tool they can use for life.  

lavenderWhat do you mean by nurture the energy system?

I introduce practical tools and exercises to tune into your energy system; to let go of stress, negativity and stagnation; to unplug thoughts, people, and experiences that drain your energy; and  to restore and enhance vitality.  

So, Polarity Therapy helps with stress?

Yes, Polarity addresses the energy behind the stress and helps you let go of the root cause of the stress.  This could be a stressful issue in a relationship expressing itself in tight shoulders and indigestion.  The main stress could be an unsatisfying job.  This could manifest as irritability, headaches, and depression.  In both cases, there is a corresponding block or stagnation in the person’s energy system influencing their physical body and their life experience.  

How can we be sure there really is an energy system?

You could ask your self:
Did I have enough energy when I awoke this morning?  Where did it come from?  Where did it go?  Are there times when you have too much energy?  Feeling wired or wound up from a stressful interaction? What is keeping my blood circulating throughout my body?  What keeps my heart beating?  In our homes we don’t see the invisible electricity behind our walls fueling a reading lamp.  Yet, we do notice the practical result of the energy flow to our lamp—light!  

What happens In a Polarity session?

We sit down together and talk about the intention of the session.  It may be to free up energy that is causing an uncomfortable physical symptom or to help you connect with your sense of clarity and purpose for an aspect of your life.  Then, you rest comfortably on the massage table and the hands-on, nurturing, bodywork begins. This hands-on contact allows you to relax and to connect with a core place of clarity, strength and wisdom within you.  It is from that place that we collaborate to create mind, body health and well-being for you!   

There is energy all around us creating weather and wind and autumn leaves on the trees.  Autumn is a wonderful time to watch the earth’s energy in action! Body and spirit flourish when your energies are flowing.

Thank you!

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A Conversation with Gina Mastroluca:
"When energy flows freely through our body we experience better health and well-being."

by Leigh-ann Smith

Gina Mastroluca is a Registered Polarity Practitioner who teaches Polarity Therapy and also has a practice in Portland.

What is Polarity Therapy?

wet stones on a beachPolarity Therapy is a wonderful, hands-on healing art that works with balancing and strengthening the human energy flow throughout our bodies. Traditionally, it is a four-part healing modality, so it's the hands-on body work, yoga, energetic nutrition, and something that is called working with how our mind effects healing, how our thoughts and beliefs affect the way our body heals and how we feel.

Do people often group it into other forms of alternative healing, like massage?

Well, often it is grouped with energy medicine. The principle of polarity therapy is that we are energy beings and that we are made up of energy. When energy flows freely through our body we experience better health and well-being. The roots of polarity therapy come from Ayurveda, which is the ancient Indian system of medicine. Ayurveda means the science of life and longevity. It has been around for at least 5,000 years. The idea of it is to support your health before it forms into symptoms and disease. It is similar to the theory of Chinese medicine, which is also based on energy.

Who founded Polarity Therapy?

Dr. Randolph Stone founded Polarity Therapy. He was an amazing man. He was an osteopathic doctor and a naturopathic doctor and chiropractor. He went around the world and studied many different forms of healing. He was particularly fascinated by the Ayurvedic form of healing in  India. Dr. Stone was one of those seekers; he was looking for the truth in healing and so he was a really brilliant man. He synthesized many things into polarity and then called it Polarity Therapy.

What is the aim of Polarity?

When our energies contract we tend not to feel that great and we can develop symptoms. When our energy feels open and flowing and expanded we are more apt to feel open, more clear and happy. Polarity Therapy is very centering. It helps us to express our highest potential for health and well-being, for creative expression, and our highest potential on all levels. It is a mind-body therapy, and there is a big emphasis in integrating our whole self so that includes our spirit, our emotional self.

How are the modalities used in treatment?

Well, in a session you would come, sit and we would talk about the intention of what you really want from a session. Then you would get on the massage table and we would do some nurturing healing touch, helping to relieve any blocked energy and help with the flow of energy. Then after a session, we might talk about how to balance your energies between sessions. I might give you some yoga postures to do. I might also give you suggestions on what might support your life force, nutrition, what food choices might be beneficial.

How many sessions do people usually go through?

I really let people choose how many. It depends on how much support they want and what they need. Some people receive one session and they love it and it works for them, so they go onto something they really need. Maybe they go and practice yoga and that is their healing path. More often people come for six sessions if they want more support. It really gives us a chance to get their energy flowing and feel more like themselves again. After that, I have clients who have been coming for years and it is just their maintenance. They come once a week or every other week. It is just how they support themselves, keep them tuned up. I myself receive sessions regularly to keep healthy.

What was your first experience like with Polarity Therapy?

My first experience with Polarity Therapy was that I had an acquaintance studying it. I was at a time in my life in which I was really searching out what I wanted to do with the next part of my life. So I said sure, I will give it a try. Literally within five to ten minutes of lying on the table I felt energy move and expand within me. When I left my session I felt a greater sense of well-being, a greater sense of wholeness, and basically just great.

So then you went on to learn it. How did you receive training?

When I left the session, again I felt this sense of wow and greater possibilities. I thought wow, I really want to learn this and share this work with others. There is a school in Ipswich, Massachusetts, then called the Polarity Realization Institute, and that is where I did my training. But now it is called SpaTech Institute. And I am also a teacher there now. I teach Polarity Therapy.

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The Principles of Ayurveda: Anne McIntyre FNIMH

  stone tower

Ayurveda is an ancient philosophy based on a deep understanding of eternal truths about the human body, mind and spirit. The traditional natural healing system of India, Ayurveda, is rapidly growing in popularity in the West today. A thoroughly comprehensive system of healing, it embraces medical science, philosophy, psychology, spiritual understanding as well as astrology and astronomy. It is based on the accumulated knowledge and understanding of millennia and yet it is very up to date, offering practical and effective treatment for many modern disorders such asthma, IBS, anxiety and skin disease. Clinical trials are being carried out at major Ayurvedic institutions all over the world as the search continues for treatments that are safe and effective through reviews of eastern as well as western medicine.   Ancient wisdom is constantly being verified by modern research.  

The roots of Ayurveda are lost in the mists of time and there has been much speculation about its true origins. A study by Zysk (1991) provides evidence in early literature preserved by Buddhist monks for Ayurveda evolving as a medical tradition from the deep wisdom of spiritually enlightened prophets known as Rishis living in North India in the 5th century BC. Their wisdom was apparently transmitted orally from teacher to disciple and eventually set down in Sanskrit poetry known as the Vedas. These writings, dating approximately 1500 BC distilled the prevailing historical, religious, philosophical and medical knowledge and form the basis of Indian culture. At approximately the beginning of the first century AD the first and most important of Ayurvedic texts appeared written by the famous physician Caraka. His work, the Charaka Samhita, is still considered the main authority of Ayurveda today and is referred to constantly in both the teaching and practice of Ayurveda.  

The name Ayurveda derives from two Sanskrit words: “Ayur” meaning life and “Veda” meaning knowledge or science. This conveys that Ayurveda is more than a system of medicine, it is a complete way of life that aims to enhance health and well being and increase longevity through a union of physical, emotional and spiritual balance as a prerequisite for attaining Moksha or self realisation. According to Vedic philosophy, there are four rightful goals in life and all human beings aspire to one or more of them:  Kama(enjoyment), Artha (properity), Dharma (career) and Moksha (liberation).  

Kama/enjoyment is our most basic goal.  We all have a basic desire to be happy and avoid suffering, to enjoy the world of sensory experience and the satisfaction of emotional desires. 

Artha/prosperity refers to acquirement of wealth and possessions in the material world. We all need vital possessions like food, clothing and shelter to be able to stay alive.

grassDharma/career or vocation refers to the attainment of status, recognition for our abilities, gifts, skills or talents, so that we can fulfil our role in life.  Moksha/enlightenment, bliss, spiritual liberation and recognition of our own true nature. The fundamental purpose in life is true inner knowledge and liberation from suffering to enable us to reach our full potential.  The other three goals are outer or secondary. When the lower three goals become ends in themselves, they give rise to attitudes, beliefs and behaviour that predispose to physical and mental imbalance and disease.  Kama as a primary goal is said to lead to over indulgence and dissipation of vital energy; Artha can lead to greed and selfish acquisitiveness; Dharma can lead to the pursuit of fame, power and control. Moksha is freedom from attachment to the first 3 gross states and a state of inner peace and joy.

At the heart of Ayurveda lies the understanding that everything is One, that everything exists in relation not in isolation. Body effects mind and vice versa, feelings and thought processes have physical effects as disorders of the body affect our psychological state. Moksha/enlightenment can be attained by those who enjoy good physical and mental health, and this is the goal of Ayurveda.  

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Polarity Therapy • Ayurveda • Yoga • Energy HEALING • MIND BODY Wellness • AROMATHERAPY