Ayurveda Is a Political Practice. Part one: Economic justice

Who is Ayurveda for?

I was recently facilitating a seminar on the subject of Ayurvedic dinacharya – often translated as “daily routine”, but which literally means “to follow the sun”. I presented the math for determining solar noon, at which digestive power is said to peak. I carefully built the old argument for the benefits of regularity in waking, cleansing, eating, working, exercising, resting, and sleeping. I lauded the sweetness of brahma muhurta – the two hours before dawn said to be ideal for contemplation. I said that an extended midday mealtime is excellent for digestion. I said that digestive fire is a reflection of well-timed food and the robustness of appetite is inseparable from steadily progressing towards self-actualization. Continue reading “Ayurveda Is a Political Practice. Part one: Economic justice”

steve jobs: an ayur-reverie about a lost mother, the pancreas, and the maternalization of technology

First published on www.elephantjournal.com, 10/12/2011


How is it meaningful that Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer? The poetry of ayurveda might say:

Steve Jobs lost his maternal source of sweetness and nurturance at a critical age. He then worked with blazing determination to recover this intuitive support, not only for himself, but for others. Between his loss and his relentless overcompensation for this loss, he burned up in sacrifice the physiology of sweetness: plasma, fat tissue, and the pancreas. He both created and possessed as a mother does. Continue reading “steve jobs: an ayur-reverie about a lost mother, the pancreas, and the maternalization of technology”

Deepak Chopra muddles words like “consciousness” and “quantum”, but that doesn’t make him a charlatan

Thanks to Julian Marc Walker for his excellent, exhaustive analysis of Chopra’s use of language, and to Rene Tschannen for hosting the Facebook dialogue that stimulated this post.


Deepak Chopra gives me an ambivalence migraine.

On one hand, he’s largely responsible for the groundswell of interest in the art of Āyurveda, which I love and practice. I’ve had many students and clients seek Ayurvedic counsel based upon their exposure to Chopra’s conveyor belt of books. Those who have been especially comforted by him often had unfulfilling experiences with biomedicine that would make a former biomedical practitioner who had moved on to something more transcendent very attractive. In Chopra they found a post-medical expert who mirrored their own post-medical yearnings. Continue reading “Deepak Chopra muddles words like “consciousness” and “quantum”, but that doesn’t make him a charlatan”

Ayurveda and the accusation of pseudoscience

The following article brings together some early treatments of subjects that I will be addressing in more polished form in my forthcoming book called Ayurveda: an Ecotherapy for our Time. Because I belong to no distinct Ayurvedic lineage, school, or professional organization, I offer this work in draft form to the global Ayurvedic community with a request for feedback, criticism, and correction. Continue reading “Ayurveda and the accusation of pseudoscience”

Grounding Anusara 3: intimacy, methods, therapy, and making it open-source

Okay. Last post. Maybe.

I’ve really been warmed by the strength of the discourse emerging from the Anusara experience. Blogs and comments are flying, phones are ringing off the hook (what a quaint old phrase!) and barrels of tea are flowing. It’s clear from the posts and threads of Brooks, Birney, Pomeda, Ippolitti and Brower, as well as compassionate outsider analyses like this one from Michelle Indianer, that we share a ripe opportunity to gaze calmly through the wreckage and heartache towards a yoga culture that actually mirrors yoga just a little bit more. Continue reading “Grounding Anusara 3: intimacy, methods, therapy, and making it open-source”

Grounding Anusara 2: a brief ayurvedic follow-up consultation

I’ve had a number of questions about the Ayurvedic riff in my last post on the Anusara situation. I had suggested that the bio-rhythm of a corporate/transglobal spiritual culture built on air travel, resort-land heart-openings, Shringlish, and gobs of marketing wind would be intensely aggravating to vata dosha. I suggested that John Friend might do well to take up gardening and turkey-baster an ounce or two of warm ghee up his rectum every afternoon to relax the vayus and bring him down to earth. But there’s quite a bit more to say here, and I won’t be as flip. Continue reading “Grounding Anusara 2: a brief ayurvedic follow-up consultation”

Grounding Anusara

I have many friends who hitched their stars to the Anusara comet, and I’ve been listening to their stories over the past few weeks. I listen from my own experience in extracting myself from the sphere of charisma: it hurts, it is humiliating, and yes – through therapy and hard work, it can be a turning point in the evolution of personal integrity. I talk quietly with these friends for a long time. For many, the sorrow and embarrassment is taking a hopeful arc. There’s a lot of courage emerging through the process, and our general discourse around what works and what doesn’t is rising in quality and subtlety. This is a very good time for modern yoga culture. Continue reading “Grounding Anusara”

Elemental Rest: an Ayurvedic Approach to Restorative Yoga

Regardless of training or lineage, teachers of Restorative yoga share a common language of ecology and mothering. We naturally gravitate towards the grounding and support of a restorative pose, buoyed up by props. We are sensitive to the flow of circulation, the glow of internal resolution, the rippling oscillation of breath, and the expansiveness of mind and heart. These common terms express the elemental powers of earth, water, fire, air, and space. They allow the bodymind, in rest and quietude, to understand and enjoy its coherence with the living world. Continue reading “Elemental Rest: an Ayurvedic Approach to Restorative Yoga”

jack layton, the giving body, the anatomy of empathy, the fire, the light

On Monday, Federal MP Libby Davies stood in the slanting rain of St. John’s and voiced a primal fact: “Jack Layton gave his life for his country”. My heart is with her. But I’d like to add another focus to “his life”. His body was given, and is now returned, to his country, our land.

I write today as a poet and therapist of the body, about Jack Layton, on the day of his state funeral, which will wind through the arteries of my own city, dressed in blood-red maples. I awoke at 4am with lingering sobs that have now evolved into several scattered thoughts about embodiment, the dynamism of sacrifice and illness, dying as recycling, our ecology of giving and loving and burning. And I’ve added a few observations on the meaning of his bodily signs, culled from what I’ve learned of natural medicine and its maps of the flesh. I’m not writing with the presumption of having known him, but as someone who saw something from a distance that now makes sense, through this body. Continue reading “jack layton, the giving body, the anatomy of empathy, the fire, the light”