Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ayurveda, Crimes against Wisdom, and Forgiveness

by Anita Perkins

"Prajnaparadha" (noun, Sanskrit) -- "Crimes against Wisdom"

Charaka, the ancient healer and sage, was perhaps the first to codify the world's oldest continually practiced medical system, Ayurveda. For over 5000 years, Ayurveda has been the holistic medical system practiced by millions in India and beyond, and now this ancient wisdom is coming to the West, as a result of the popularity of Ayurveda's sister-science, Yoga.

Ayurveda, Yoga, and Tantra are a sacred trinity of systems the ancient Rishis (seers) practiced to develop the individual towards liberation. Ayurveda develops the individual's body, Tantra the mind, and Yoga the spirit. Practiced together, the individual achieves an ideal, integrated balance of physical health, mental focus, and spiritual enlightenment.

By studying these ancient practices -- Yoga, Tantra, and Ayurveda -- we can learn what is necessary to maintain -- or if necessary regain -- physical, mental, and spiritual balance.

check back: links coming soon....
Introduction to Yoga as a Spiritual Discipline.
Introduction to Tantra as a Mental Discipline.
Here is an introduction to Ayurveda.

Through the study and practice of Yoga, Tantra, and Ayurveda, we can learn what we need to do and not do, to be vibrantly healthy in body, mind, and spirit, and how exactly to achieve physical, mental, and spiritual health and liberation.

In Ayurveda, health is more than the absence of disease; it is a state of optimal wellness, of thriving. Just as consuming the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin C will prevent scurvy, but ingesting a larger dose will also support your immune system, Ayurveda not only helps you avoid disease, but promotes ideal wellness.

If we know how we need to behave or not behave, and yet we do not act in accordance with this knowledge, we have committed a "crime against wisdom." "Prajnaparadha" ("crime against wisdom" in Sanskrit) is considered by Ayurveda to be the root cause of all disease. "Prajnaparadha" is willfully ignoring one's inner knowing -- going against your intuition and common sense -- and is the source of all health problems. For example, eating ice cream on a cold, winter day is counter-intuitive. In Ayurveda, eating a frozen dairy product in freezing weather aggravates Kapha dosha, which leads to excess phlegm and mucus production. Really, it just violates common sense.

I've heard many yoga therapy clients, after I've interviewed them about their dietary habits, say "I know I should eat more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, but..." or "I know I should drink less coffee, but...." But, they don't do what they know they should do, and they do what they know they shouldn’t. And what happens? Their health suffers for it. Someone who is irritable and jittery and has trouble sleeping, and who knows their caffeine intake is contributing to their imbalanced health, and yet drinks a quart of coffee a day, is committing Prajnaparadha. So is the person who eats few if any fruits or vegetables or whole grains, knowing they should, and suffers from constipation (from lack of fiber) and frequent colds (from lack of antioxidants).

We create our own illnesses by violating our own common sense. Excess or deficiency of anything, especially excess of harmful substances or deficiency of helpful ones, throws us out of balance and into illness. Chronically, over time, these excesses and/or deficiencies add up, and can lead to debilitating chronic illnesses.

Even something as seemingly unrelated as choosing to work at a job you hate is a case of Prajnaparadha, and may be a primary source of your ill health. You may blame your job for your unhappiness, but ultimately, your unhappiness will manifest as illness, and essentially, your unwillingness to let go of the job you hate is a crime against wisdom. Why are you choosing to remain in a miserable situation? There are thousands of jobs, careers, schools, and job trainings out there, in thousands of locations all over the country and the world. Your rotten job is not the cause of your ill health, but your choice to work there very well may be.

And that goes for any choice you make to remain stuck in an unhappy situation, whether that choice involves work or school, home or family, or any other environment where we spend our time. Being happy is intimately linked with health, and being unhappy with illness. It comes down to this: Do you want to make a happy life for yourself, or would you rather just make yourself sick? Would you rather make yourself happy, or would you rather just make excuses for your unhappiness? There is no "can't" -- there is only "won't." "Where there's a will, there's a way."

There is only your conscious or unconscious willfulness, your own mentally created self-limitations. There is only you.

So what do we do? Beat ourselves up for deliberately violating such basic shoulds and shouldn'ts? Lash ourselves with guilt and shame for staying stuck in a dead-end job? Arrest us all for committing crimes against wisdom, and put everyone in Ayurvedic prison? Not even close. Just the opposite really: Love. More love, more compassion, from ourselves, for ourselves. Make friends with yourself. Be willing to truly know who you are, what you're doing or not doing, and why. And then team up with yourself to do whatever is necessary to bring yourself back into balance and health.

The necessary attribute for self-change is "Tapas," Sanskrit for "inner fire." This yogic concept refers to austerity, determination, and the willingness to do whatever is necessary to bring yourself back into balance and health. First, identify and acknowledge your crimes against wisdom -- your contributions to your own ill health. Then, instead of beating yourself up about it, realize your inner empowerment. Think about it -- the fact that you've helped cause your illness gives you the power to stop causing your illness. This realization brings you back onto the path of Dharma and renewed health.

Once you feel empowered to do something about your health, to take action to change how you are feeling for the better, the healing process really begins. Draw upon your inner resources, your courage and resolve, your patience and perseverance. Reach out to your family and friends, books, therapists, the internet, get all the information and assistance you can. Change your diet, change your job, change your life – be willing to let go of the past to move forward into a future of wellness. Reach down inside yourself and find the Tapas to heal yourself. You can do this!

And what should you do when you falter? Believe me, you will, my friend, because we all do sometimes -- the road to healing is rocky and paved with good intentions and backsliding -- it's two steps forward and one step back the whole way there. So, what do you do when you stumble and fall -- off the wagon, or off the healing path altogether? Kick yourself? Give up? Not even close! Love. Compassion. Be your own best friend.

Most of us treat our friends way better than we ever treat ourselves. Do we give up on our loved ones when they make a mistake? Do we berate them when they stumble, sneer at them when they fall? No, we forgive them, we cut them slack, we give them another chance. That's exactly what we need to do for ourselves, especially in the beginning, as we make our tenuous way on the challenging journey towards wellness. Treat yourself as you would your dearest and most beloved friend. Offer yourself love and compassion, a cup of tea and a hot bath, words of encouragement and support. You deserve it!

No one can heal you, only you can heal yourself. And you can only heal yourself if you are kind enough to forgive yourself, and courageous enough to stop blaming your mother, your job, the government, your addiction, and everything but the kitchen sink that is not you, and accept your own culpability in your own disease. Then, you apologize sincerely to yourself for you past transgressions, forgive yourself fully and completely, and vow from this day forward to change. You commit yourself fully to being your own true friend and partner in your own healing. And then, and only then, the true healing begins.

I need to be clear on one very important point: Even though healing yourself IS your responsibility, being ill or out of balance is NOT your fault. Yes, your actions have contributed to the outcome. Your smoking or poor diet or stressful lifestyle have contributed to your becoming unwell. But saying that is NOT the same as saying "it's your fault." First of all, it is evident that environmental factors, including our increasingly toxic soil, air, and water, contribute much more to the onset of disease than an addiction to soda pop.

Also, knowing your choices and actions contributed to the formation and maintenance of your illness is ultimately incredibly empowering. Since you helped cause it, and you have been maintaining it, you know you can stop it. You cannot single-handedly purify our global environment (although we should all work together to do that!), you CAN purify and strengthen your internal environment with healthy diet and lifestyle changes. You CAN change your life, and transform your health, for the better!

And finally, your self-awareness must come with self-acceptance. You did the best you could, knowing what you did, being who you were, in your past circumstances. You really did. You are human. You are wonderful. But you are not perfect, never were, and never will be, and neither is anyone else. And that is perfectly okay. What you were, are, and always will be, are perfectly loveable and forgivable.

So, please, don't waste time and energy blaming yourself for past mistakes. Let go of the past, love yourself, and forgive yourself completely. Self-love liberates you from repeating the self-destructive habit patterns from the past that helped make you sick in the first place. Self-love frees you to finally and fully get well.

Confess your crimes against wisdom, whatever they are, and turn over a new leaf. Begin anew with a healthy respect for your intuition, your self-care, and common sense, and pardon yourself fully and completely for the past. Today is the day to begin. Today is the day to transform your health.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How to Get What You Want

How to release your own resistance to getting everything you want

By Anita Perkins

So you really want to change, to improve yourself and transform your health? But every time you try, you fall back into the same old bad habit patterns? You can change. Here's how to get what you want, by releasing your resistance to change:

1) Feel the resistance in your body.
Where is it? How does it feel? Stay in your body, pay attention to your breath, and don't "check out."

2) Name the belief or emotion behind the resistance.
Some examples of resistance are: Fear, I can't, I'm a bad person if I do, I shouldn’t, I'm not good enough, Blame, Punishment, Self-punishment, Guilt, Scarcity, etc.

3) Counteract the negative belief or emotion with affirmations.
See How to Create Affirmations here.

4) Release the resistance.
Release the need to hold onto the negative belief or emotion, no matter what originally caused it, and let it go.

5) Accept the process.
Accept that emotions and other forms of resistance will come up as you try to change old habit patterns, and release the resistance as it emerges. Don't use emotions such as fear or guilt as an excuse to give up on your path towards positive change.

6) Be kind to yourself.
Provide yourself the love, nurturing, patience, and self-acceptance that you need during this or any life transition.

Here's an example of how these six steps to self-change work in real life:

I tend to procrastinate and then feel guilty about it. For example, I don't want to sit down and work on my writing right now, but I don't know why, or how to feel better about it.

1) I feel the resistance in my jaw. My jaw feels tight and clenched.
2) The emotion is anger. I feel anger because I'm hungry and haven't had lunch yet and I'm forcing myself to write anyway. The belief is "I can't take care of myself AND be a successful writer. If I stop to eat, I'll slack off, not get anything done, and be a loser."
3) The affirmation to counteract that belief is "I can take care of myself AND write successfully. I create an easy ebb and flow between self-care, family responsibilities, and writing. I can take breaks and do the other things I need to do, and writing will still get done. No matter how much I write or don't write, I am a good person and a success."
4) I release any and all need to believe that I must choose between self-care and creativity. I believe that I can have both self-care and creativity, in harmonious balance.
5) I accept, understand, and release my anger. I am at peace with the process of writing this book.
6) I am going to have a quick-and-nourishing meal, and then come back to work on my writing.

You can do it! You can change, for the better.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Anita's Health Update

I'm feeling gradually better. I'm learning and growing as I heal. It's been quite an interesting process!

The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.
John Ruskin, 1819-1900

Here's what's helping:

Recent blood test results showed low iron (anemia), low protein, low thyroid, and low cortisol, which all explained my overwhelming fatigue, dryness, and intolerance to stress. I've begun adding iron supplements, protein powder, kelp tablets, and adaptagen tincture to re-balance the deficiencies, and my energy levels are gradually improving.

Vulvodynia is about 80% improved, mostly due to avoidance of any and all irritation. (Skip this paragraph unless you want all the gory details.) I've avoided most sitting. I've been rinsing with water and patting dry after urination. I've avoided any soaps, used only hypoallergenic and fragrance-free laundry detergent, and have gotten used to wearing silk slips with long skirts. I have been on a low oxalate diet and drink lots of water with a little lemon to keep my urine diluted and alkaline. Supplements include: Calcium Citrate, Magnesium Glycinate, N-Acetyl-Glucosamine, Probiotics, Quercetin, LOTS of Omega-3 Oils (Fish and Flax Oils), Vitamin E, and more.

Daily affirmations and yoga have kept my mind positive and my body limber as I've been home recuperating.

Every patient carries her or his own doctor inside. – Albert Schweitzer

Based on both my research and my intuition, I believe I am in early perimenopause, and that that is the root of my recent health problems. For example, perimenopausal hormone changes are known to cause frequent urination, vaginal dryness, and a tendency to urinary tract infections. My body is changing, and I can feel it!

At 40, my sleep is already being disrupted by hot flashes and night sweats. My mood swings are typical companions to perimenopausal hormonal swings. Hormonal changes would also explain the palpitations and anxiety I have recently experienced. And my periods vary from 4 days light to 10 days heavy, from a 21-day cycle, to a 36-day cycle, when they were always regular before. So, I'm going to try some natural progesterone cream during my next cycle, and research herbal remedies, and I will let you know how that goes.

I am working on creating a CD of healing affirmations, "Affirmations for Transforming Health." The CD will include a brief relaxation exercise following by positive statements you can listen to, to promote your mental and physical health. I plan to have it available to purchase soon. If you are interested, please send me an email at

The health of the people is really the foundation upon which all their happiness and all their powers as a state depend. – Benjamin Disraeli

I've been very happy about the results of our national and local elections, and feel optimistic about the healing and rejuvenation of both myself and our society as a whole.

"Yes We Can!"

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