I went to an Ayurvedic seminar in New Mexico a few years back – but while the course was about marmani (the Ayurvedic version of acupressure), I learnt about something that is even more meaningful: love.
Love? Now I know what you are thinking: Put away the prayer beads and fisherman pants and start talking to me about real beauty tips. But what I realized is that being beautiful and open-hearted are one and the same… even in a very direct way.
Dr. Lad (the teacher of my course, a renowned Ayurvedic doctor) sprinkled the week with side notes about the link between the way we think and our body’s health. According to him, not only did negative thoughts or repressed emotions create toxins, but also displayed themselves in the physical form. This could express itself as wrinkles (Vata worry lines or liver related frown lines), blemishes (excess heat and Pitta emotions), pigmented spots (internal inflammation aggravated by inflammatory thoughts) and muscular pain (sometimes caused by unresolved grief). “Our issues are in our tissues,” he would say.
Ayurveda even has emotions which are linked to specific organs, as explained in the seminar’s hand-out package: the Kidneys relate to fear and anxiety (also enhanced by lack of sleep), the Stomach relates to nervousness, the Liver relates to anger and frustration, the Heart relates to Worry and the Sex organs relate to embarrassment – and the antithesis to these emotion-caused organ dysfunctions is love.
Dr. Lad went on to explain that true balance was attained through striving for enlightenment, and that this was only achieved through love – which meant we had to let go of ego and judgment. Now this for me is especially difficult as I have made a sport of self-judgment (I think I have spent half an hour trying to decide whether I am forming a double chin or not). But he said it was not only for ourselves but for the health of those around us, and as health practitioners, it was imperative that we treat and diagnose our patients/clients from a place of compassion and love (starting with ourselves). And while this may sound to you like a lot of new age jargon, I believe him as I felt healthier than I have in years, just being in such a positive environment.
The class itself was filled with Western doctors, massage therapists, yoga teachers, acupuncturists and other Ayurvedic practitioners. As the week wore on, I noticed how nurturing this group was. Being from a large city in which we mostly keep to ourselves (and eyes straight ahead), I was surprised by how much perfect strangers were smiling and waving at me. One classmate even stopped me as I passed her and said peacefully “I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you yet. I have just seen your beautiful face in class.” I was completely taken aback (did I mention I wore no make-up and fisherman pants the whole week?). She herself was also beautiful with kind eyes and a beaming complexion.
It reminded me of how beautifying our intentions can be. While I knew this already, I needed to be reminded that though we can have things we want to change about ourselves, we cannot get so attached to them that they become more important than our sense of self-acceptance.
Kristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up. She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India. She is also a Certified Esthetician with eight years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia. Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company. Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine. She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine.