Being well is a daily practice that requires regular maintenance to our body, mind, heart, and spirit. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine are best known for their use of herbal remedies and body therapies based on a thorough understanding of the chakra grid, acupuncture meridian systems, and subtle, but dynamic, energy fields.
In Tibetan Ayurveda, there are four levels of intervention with increasing levels of invasiveness. According to this system, herbal medicine is considered to be a second level approach and body therapies fall within both the second and third levels. The most familiar of the therapeutic interventions also fall into level two or three. This begs the question: What are contained in levels one and four? As I want to address level one exclusively, I shall only say that level four has to do with spiritual medicine, the deepest medicine of all. Level one is the least invasive, but in fact, the most fundamental to our daily health and well-being. Level one interventions are about LIFESTYLE.
At the Be Well Expo on September 29 and 30 in Los Angeles, Melanie and I presented participants with an array of first level health practices which are quite simple but effective in both preventative and curative ways. We’d like to go over four of these techniques specifically from the tradition of Ayurveda. They all involve the skillful use of oil, and most specifically, organic cold-pressed sesame oil.
Also known as oil pulling, when it comes to oral hygiene, I cannot speak enough about its benefits. Of course, sources have talked about detoxification and I don’t know how many people really experience this or only wish they did.
Before appearing on the Dr. Phil Show (that’s another story), I was told that my teeth were too dark for TV. I was ushered by limo to a Brentwood dentist who not only cleaned, but bleached my teeth. In less than half an hour, the pain built up until it became excruciating. After leaving the dentist, I asked the driver to take me to a Whole Foods store where I bought a small bottle of sesame oil. When I returned to the hotel, I put two tablespoons into my mouth and swished the oil back and forth in my mouth. No gargling. After 20 minutes, my pain level went from an 8.5 (out of 10) to less than 2. The oil I spat out was cream colored. After this practice, you are supposed to drink glass of water, which I did; I’ve continued this practice on an ongoing basis and never looked back.
In general, do this in the morning before you brush your teeth or eat anything. Follow the simple directions as I explain above and follow with a glass of water. Beyond pain relief, I have personally seen a dramatic reduction in plaque buildup.
This practice involves oil in the ears. It is great for tinnitus (ringing in the ears), for most earaches, and is quite calming to the mind. Take a warm washcloth and rest it on your right jaw. When the jaw is nice and pink from the heat, lie down and use an eye dropper to pour warm sesame oil into the right ear. Relax on a comfy pillow for 15 to 20 minutes. Place a tissue near your ear and then turn your head to drain the oil. Do not use a Q-tip or anything in the ear afterwards, just a cotton ball to allow the oil to drain slowly. Repeat on the left side.
This is a great practice for air travel and was taught to us by Vaidya Doctor Vasant Lad. It both reduces jetlag and helps to keep you much calmer on the journey. Just before you leave the house, place some cold-pressed sesame oil on the crown of your head, in your ears, in the corners of your eyes near your nose, in both nostrils, at the corners of your mouth, in your navel, at the tip of the penis if you are a man or on the lips of the vagina if you are a woman, and finally around your anus.
In Ayurveda, it is said that as we grow older we become more affected by the cold and dry vata dosha; we dry up and cool off. The remedy is oil — more of it in our diet and on our body. Abhyanga is oil massage where we feed and nurture our body through the skin. For this type of self-massage, you do not have to know special massage strokes. Just go from head to toe and spread the oil over your entire body with a high quality organic vegetable oil. Let the oil stay on the skin for at least 20 minutes.
There are special powders called ubtans that can be used to remove the oil. But, short of that, you can lie in a tub and allow the oil to gradually be absorbed and then remove the rest with a gentle, natural soap. This practice is recommended as a daily practice for anyone over 50. It is also another great practice to do when you arrive at your destination after traveling.
We always like to hear what results people experience from making changes like these in their lifestyle. We encourage you to contact us.
Melanie and Robert Sachs run Diamond Way Ayurveda, located in San Luis Obispo, California. They have decades of study and experience in incorporating the traditions of Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine in the modern world and frequently teach and consult in the spa industry. They are the authors of a long list of books including Tibetan Ayurveda: Health Secrets from the Roof of the World, and Ayurvedic Spa: diamondwayayurveda.com.