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November 24, 2008

Physical health and the personality

Dr Robert Svoboda (whom I highly recommend) points out that people with multiple personalities can be allergic to something if they eat it when one personality is present, and not when another personality is present. This effect of the personality extends to the physical realm in such things as being right or left handed, wether the eyes squint and even the curvature of the lens.

Ther are many cases reported where if one personality is drunk, when another personality enters the body they are instantly and totally sober. Different personalities react differently to drugs and medication, and, in the case of women, can even menstruate many times in a month depending on which personality is present.

So what's this got to do with anything? It simply demonstrates the physical effect of the things that are not physical.

Unfortunately since we are not fully conscious of these things we can't fully control them. But being aware that your personality (however many of them there are!) has such a big impact on your physical body can be very useful in Ayurveda. Fear, for example, causes diarrhea, and even fear of diarrhea can cause diarrhea itself. So if we can detach ourselves a little from our fear perhaps we can become a little healthier and stronger.

I believe meditation is the key to becoming more aware of the personality and ego, our attachments, desires, karma and our emotions. Emotions are, afterall, just chemical reactions in the brain. And the brain wave patterns are triggered (as demonstrated by people with multiple personalities) by our personalities. A little awareness of this human condition of being controlled by our personality can actually improve our health.

I'm not suggesting we can all cure ourselves, because that would imply that it's your fault if you are sick, but it certainly won't do any harm to practice a little detachment.

Just what I've been thinking about. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

November 17, 2008


I'm safely and happily settled back home now. The Nullarbor was a great experience, made much more fun for my travelling companions, my husband, my sister and my brother-in-law. It was crazy weather, we had a dust storm and a hail storm and intense heat. But what struck me most was how isolated many Australians are. There was one roadhouse that exists in it's own time zone, which I suspect is central standard time without daylight savings. He lives a days drive from the nearest shop. And the most incredible thing is that there are much more isolated places in Northern WA and central Australia.

We were driving a massive van, with plenty of room in the back for playing...

But not enough for our dancing, so, whilst we stopped to fill up the water supplies...

But mostly we were just driving, on very long, very straight, very flat road...

I've started my new job managing community development projects, which is going very well. Just thought I'd remind you that I'll only be posting once a week on Mondays for now.

November 10, 2008

Kichadee Fast

If you feel like doing an internal spring clean I thought I'd type up my own variation of a fast, which is really more like a mono-diet, cause I'm not of the weight and strength to withstand anything stronger. Whilst this is a very mild fast, make sure your blood pressure is stable, and only fast at a time when you can allow yourself to rest. Fasting should include some level of withdrawal from all wordly things, not just food, so take a break from a busy schedule too.

Kicharee (also spelled kichadi and kidgedee and... in true Indian fashion) forms the backbone of an Ayurvedic diet. I don't know of an illness that can not benefit from kichadee. Basically it's mung dahl and basmati cooked together with various seasonings. Choose seasonings to balance you dosha.

I haven't included a standard recipe for kicharee, because if you aren't familiar with Ayurvedic cooking you might find this fast difficult! If you don't know how to make kicharee, look up some recipes and get to know how to make it and how you like it before trying this out.

It begins with a watery mung dahl soup, and becomes more solid as the week progresses. Each day is the same as the last with something added or taken away. You can aid your body with cleansing by taking triphla as appropriate.

You can eat as much as you feel like, but as always, over or under eating is discouraged, your stomach should be about a third full. Small regular meals are generally advised, especially for Vata. If you need to eat alot you might need to cook a second (or even third) batch to get you through the day. If you go out take your food with you in a thermos.

To help you stay well hydrated, you can also drink:
  • Warm water
  • Rice tea (cook rice in plenty of water and drink the warm liquid only)
  • A little hot water with lemon, jaggary and himalayan rock salt (not for pitta)
Even for a time after you break your fast, especially avoid:
  • coffee, alcohol, cigarettes etc
  • refined sugar, refined wheat
  • processed foods
  • cold food
Day One
Eat normally, but lightly. Eat Kichadee for dinner around six and have an early night.

Day Two
Cook one cup of hulled mung dahl with eight cups of water and a teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt. When the dahl is completely disintegrated add some cumin powder, tumeric powder and coriander leaves. Add some more water if it is not soupy. Eat as frequently as you need.

Day Three
Same again, but fry the cumin in a little ghee before adding, and use a little less water.

Day Four
Use a little less water again, add a little more ghee and you can add some more spices if you like as appropriate for your dosha.

Day Five
Add 1/2 cup of white basmati rice to your dahl and cook together. You can add more rice if you need more sustenence, or less rice if you are getting a little constipated.

Day Six
Break your fast at lunchtime with a little butternut pumpkin, zucchini and one chappati. Eat your day five meal again for dinner and then slowly introduce your normal diet over the next few days.

If you want a longer fast you can sustain day four or five for a few days and then continue chronologically. I hope this isn't too vague, it's written for people with some knowledge and experience of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic cooking, rather than a total beginner. Let me know if you have any questions.

November 03, 2008

Shatavari: "she who posesses 100 husbands"

I recently had a question about Shatavari and it's effect on the liver. To be honest, I don't know much of it's uses for the liver, but as you can imagine from the meaning of it's name (above) it's pretty good for the ladies!

Being sweet and bitter it has a cooling effect, making it more beneficial for Vata and Pitta, and less for Kapha. Given it's cooling nature I imagine shatavari might benefit hot liver conditions including hyperacidity and jaundice.

But Shatavari's most prized use is as a rejuvinative for the female reproductive system. It is a tonic and demulcent, meaning it is soothing, lubricating and nourishing. Shatavari actually regulates female hormones, so it is beneficial for women at all stages of life including puberty and menopause, and can regulate difficult menstrual cycles. It promotes fertility and eases PMS for Vata and Pitta.

Other conditions treated by shatavari include laryngitis, underweight, AIDS and fevers that have caused dehydration. It also promotes hair growth, and can be used externally for stiff joints. It is sattvic and cleanses the blood, it is perfectly safe for children and reduces inflammation.

Shatavari is not not recommended in cases of high ama or mucous.