Episode 9: Ayurveda: The Science of Life
Dr. Sheila Patel
CASAT Podcast Network.
Welcome to Season five of CASAT Conversations, a holistic look at mental health.
Join us for a series of thought provoking conversations that delve into the vast dimensions of mental well being from the intricate link between physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of well being to the latest scientific research practices and therapies.
We navigate the multifaceted landscape of mental health together.
We hope you enjoy today’s conversation today.
We welcome Dr. Sheila Patel.
Dr. Patel is the Chief Medical Officer for Chopra Global.
Welcome, Dr. Patel.
We’re so happy to have you here today.
Thank you for having me.
I’m excited to have this conversation as we get started.
Please share with us a little bit more about yourself and why the why you do the work that you do?
Uh I, I’m a physician.
So I trained in the Western medical model and uh did family medicine as my residency in board certification.
So I’m currently um board certified in family medicine and I started out the 1st 15 years of my career doing very conventional practice, you know, just like you do when you go to see the doctor.
And uh you know, learned all the good, all the algorithms like a good little doctor does and uh how and I went into family medicine because I really wanted to get to know my patients and really help them.
And actually honestly, I always was interested in prevention.
Makes sense, right?
Like how do you prevent disease and keep people healthy?
And I thought, you know, primary care would be the best way to do that.
But once I got out, I realized I wasn’t really preventing many things.
I mean, obviously there are great things we do, uh, say vaccinations or, you know, um, there are a lot of the things we did preventatively were more like early, early detection, like for cancer.
But not like truly what I considered prevention.
And now we see that this was about 15 years ago, I started having grumblings of what am I doing.
I just treating people’s diseases and they come back with more.
They have side effects from their meds and, and I, uh, I understood the, we learned the biopsychosocial model that and, and I always practiced in very small towns, very small towns, uh, first in Southeast Alaska and then back to my home state of Wisconsin in a very rural, uh, community, wonderful community hospital.
So I knew my patients very well and I knew when they had stress in their lives they would come in more, they would show up in the, er, they would, you know, I knew that when their grandma was put into the nursing home, I, you know, deliver their babies.
And so we see them afterwards when their mood, you know, was not so great.
So I always knew as we do that, that there’s more to your health than just, you know, what’s, what’s right in front of you.
And so around 15 years ago, I started feeling like I wanted to do something else and than that conventional way of practicing and integrated medicine was for starting to, you know, the fellowship was created and people were talking about uh you know, the context of uh patient centered care, et cetera.
And then my parents come from India.
So I knew about Ayurveda.
This, it’s a traditional healing system that comes from India.
But I more heard about it like this is good for your digestion or in Ayurveda, you shouldn’t do this or you should do that or uh and the home remedies, my mom would make them at home or, or give us these little ayurvedic pills.
And, but then at this point in my career, I started looking at how did they heal?
How did they, you know, do things thousands of years ago.
And that took me back to Ayurveda and I was just, I, I was just hooked once I started learning about this model of medicine that exists that has existed for thousands of years that considers holistically mind body spirit and is very well laid out, uh that kind of changed the trajectory of my career.
So I took a step back.
I did some training in Ayurveda.
Now I live in Southern California and um started working at the Chopra Center, which was here in Carlsbad, California for many years.
Uh And, you know, just kept learning more and more about Ayurveda.
I still see patients one day a week in a primary care office.
Uh uh just an outpatient medicine now.
But most of the rest of the time I’m teaching in our Ayurvedic lifestyle certifications or medi you know, I got certified in meditation.
We now have an online yoga program and coaching program that I’m involved in.
So that’s maybe a long story.
But there’s, there’s a lot more to it, but that’s basically what got me to where I am right now and I love it.
I love it.
It reinvigorated my love of medicine uh to be able to do it more holistically.
I love that.
Um I’m stuck on what you said about in the beginning, how you were taught to treat patients really as algorithms and I’ve uh presented to med students and, you know, been there during meetings and I’ve had that same sort of thought, you know, in listening to, if you, you know, see this, do that.
And I, I always just thought, how are we treating human beings like this?
Like there’s so much more complexity and nuance here.
Uh And it’s just, it was always so surprising to me.
And that really gets to the root of the problem.
Like, you know, I like seeing the root of the problem because that’s what Ayurveda tries to look at.
What’s the root of the problem.
And so in medicine we’re treating diseases, we’re treating symptoms.
I mean, again, I’m a physician and I love medicine.
II, I am really, um, appreciate what we can do in medicine and what we can do very well because I used to work in er s in our communities and in patient care is treat very acute disease like we can pull people back from the brink very well because we, that’s what medicines do.
We push people in a direction, like literally shove them in a certain direction, your body’s going this way and you’re gonna die, we’re gonna shove you back this way and it works.
But that doesn’t really work with chronic diseases.
This is and prevention, right?
This is like waiting till people are really, really sick and then we can save them and procedures, you know, technology.
I mean, there’s many, many great advances in medicine, but uh we’re not really getting to the root of the problem.
Like this is true prevention.
What’s the root of the problem?
And the thing I love about Ayurveda, like literally Ayurveda means the science of life.
The word means this, you know, I use is life and be that is wisdom or knowledge or science, you know, however you want to um think of that word, but it describes life.
So it describes everything about a human being and how nature functions through us.
Nature, meaning what happens when you know in our, in our mind and body and how will be influenced by not just everything around us but also internally.
And this gets to thoughts, right?
Our mental space significantly impacts our body.
And this is uh Ayurveda.
Again, this is one of the foundational concepts, uh mind, body, spirit, they’re all integrated, they’re different experiences of our being human body means what’s the experience of this physical matter of a body that we call a body?
And what influences that mind is the mental space.
What influences the mental space but not only that, how does the mental space and the physical space?
How do they influence each other?
And they’re really one entity and in, in, you know, if you look at the deepest level, we have a thought, we have an instantaneous physiologic response.
Everyone knows that, right?
We have, we think you and I can have someone think about something stressful and they feel something in their body, right?
Something’s happening in the body.
And then you think about someone you love or some really joyful sunset or an experience you had that you feel like a different way, right?
Like we can have different adjectives for it, but there’s no doubt we feel differently in the body.
You may not see it, but we feel it.
So something’s happening, right?
And now in mind, body medicine, there’s like, really should be very little doubt that, that they’re connected or that again, that they’re really one entity, one is just thoughts, the other sensations in the body.
Um But again, Irv, that has very clear cut foundations of not just mind body, but then the spiritual aspect, these experiences that people have that we all have, we just don’t know the words for them, right?
Um Or we don’t talk about them because people will think we’re w we’re crazy.
Um But now again, people are starting to describe purpose, meaning a feeling of awe, deep connection with everything around us, you know, all of these spiritual things, uh maybe even having an experience of being out of your body.
Um So anyway, there, you know, this is a foundation of Ayurveda and the other foundation is things start, there are these concepts in the body, these patterns, I like to call them patterns or psychophysiological principles.
The, the Sanskrit word for that is dosha.
Sometimes if you start saying dosha and do you know this and that people to, you know, tune out what does that mean or psychophysiological principles, but that’s what they are.
They’re different patterns of personality and psychology and behavior as well as patterns of biology.
And so it’s personalized, it’s based on this person in front of you, as opposed to treating a disease, you’re treating a person, their individual mind, body type or dosha and what’s gotten out of balance in all of those patterns or doses in their physiology be and, and then again, once they’re having symptoms or even treating disease, but even before that, how do you keep a healthy person healthy, mentally and physically?
And so how do you keep them healthy?
How do you treat disease?
You look at the root cause and until you treat the root cause you’re just treating symptoms, which is, you know, a lot of what we do in medicine and in Ayurveda, the root cause of physical disease, they say a majority or at least two thirds depending on the books.
You know that you read the teach, the teachings has a you a physical ailment, two thirds of the time has an emotional root cause.
So right there, there’s an appreciation that hey, your digestions off.
Let’s look at your thoughts, hey, you have inflammation in your body and you have high blood pressure and heart disease or whatever it is anymore.
It could be any of the chronic diseases.
What’s going on in your mind?
Let’s examine that.
What’s your stress level and stress really just comes from our thoughts, right and overwhelm.
But our thoughts about all the things we have to do, right?
Um Not being present and worrying and, and all of those things create disease.
So um you know, these are just some of the things I love about Ayurveda.
There’s so much more but these core core principles that we can bring into the modern context.
So we don’t have to talk about it the way people talked about it.
3000 years ago, we can bring it into the modern context.
We can talk about it in scientific language because now a lot of these things are being validated by science.
Um now that we can measure different electromagnetic things, electricity in the body, the vagus nerve and how you know how that works, we can measure these things.
We have vagal nerve stimulators that we know can treat depression or inflammatory diseases.
So now we can start to talk about this and have some validation for what people recognized for thousands of years.
I love that.
Um you know, I my career has really been focused on chronic disease.
And so the bulk of my work has been supporting people to make healthy lifestyle behavior changes that support their long term health for people with a chronic disease and or as a preventative measure, right?
So in management of or in prevention of, um and I wholeheartedly agree like we have there’s a lot better ways that we could be doing that to support health in our country and across the world.
And I feel like we don’t have to re invent the wheel.
We may need to talk about it in a little bit of a again modern context pull in some science study things which I’m very big proponent of studying things, knowing that studies have their limitations too.
And studies aren’t always designed for whole systems, medicine.
Like if you’re looking at a whole person and all the thousands or hundreds of thousands of reaction, bio biochemical reactions or things that are happening at one moment that influence whatever it is that you’re trying to uh you know, uh adjust, that’s not what, you know, reduction of science looks at, it looks at some semblance of a control which of course, that in and of itself is a little bit of a weird concept we control for certain things.
And I know we did studies at the Chopra Center on meditation on, you know, what happens when people would come for our ayurvedic immersions where they were meditating, doing yoga, eating a certain way because in Ayurveda you’re doing more than one thing.
It’s not about just having some sense that I have a control group.
And then I have this intervention group and I give the inter intervention group, this one thing and I’m measuring the outcome of this one thing.
That’s a great model for studying certain things but not whole systems medicine, but that’s evolving.
You know, I know people that are researching and really talking about that in the research field of uh uh whole systems met.
How do you research whole systems and what are the limitations of science in the first place and studies the way we do them, there’s the quantitative that we have to measure and look at a big proponent, but there’s the qualitative experiences too of people that is very, very real and we have to look at that too.
And Irv, that’s more of a qualitative science.
Um you know, describing how you feel, describing what you see, describing things in, you know, they didn’t know they didn’t have microscopes and electron microscopes and understand germs or molecules.
But there were terms that described exactly what we would call a molecule or exactly what we would call, you know, AAA bi a microbe.
Uh they might just have, you know, again, the words kind of make people uh you know, kind of feel weird.
But again, if you think about how would you describe bacteria before you could use the word bacteria or how would you describe, you know, energy?
Um This is what they described.
And so, and not only in AYR though a lot of traditional healing systems had all the same concepts, you know, of, of energy and the mind, body, spirit, and the food using food as your medicine.
Uh And because they all observe the same thing, you know, about health and true, what true healing is, which honestly the easy part and I can say this as a doctor, I mean, it’s not easy, don’t get me wrong, but the easiest part is the, the physical body, you know, like let’s measure something.
Oh, that numbers off.
Let’s increase your thyroid medicine.
Oh, you have something there.
Let me cut it off.
You know, and it’s very satisfying, you know, as a physician or your blood pressure is high and I do, I still prescribe medicine.
I’m absolutely not anti medicine at all for anything because this is the other thing I love about Ayurveda.
It says everything can be used as a medicine.
Everything can be used as a medicine in the right context and everything can be used as a poison when you’re using it improperly, that includes water, right?
And we know that because I’ve had patients that drink too much water and their sodium gets too, too low.
So um yeah, so I, you know, I think using all of these basic principles that people have understood for thousands of years uh is, is the foundation of how I practice.
Now, I just use a modern context around it.
And um it works very, very well.
And again, I ask everybody in, in, in the chopra world, we talk about these pillars of wellness and food is, you know, it’s food, movement sleep, which again, now all of those things have data that support how important that is for not just physical health but mental health and um then emotional regulation, uh um movement nut, I lost nutrition, sleep, movement, emotions, stress or stress management.
So, emotional regulation stress management, which we use meditation as our main tool and then self care, the daily practices that you do.
And again, as I was saying, the physical things, the physical body is the easiest thing to see.
Oh I feel you feel better great for three months, you feel better until you know, the medicine has side effects or stops working because you build up a tolerance or whatever it is.
Uh So we, I do work a lot on that emotional regulation, the stress management, which is very intimately tied to sleep as we know.
Uh So those are the places, you know, I see someone coming into the office and they can’t sleep, you know, it’s gonna be, it’s in the thoughts, right?
So like, let’s talk about what’s keeping.
I mean, yes, there’s some physical things.
Once you rule those out, then you have to say like, what’s, you know, and you, and you take care of sleep hygiene to some degree, you know, dimming the lights, all of those things.
Um Then it’s like, ok, what’s going on in that mental space that’s keeping you from sleeping?
Why is your nervous system overactive and not letting you rest deeply?
You know, and that you have to talk about stress, you have to talk about emotions, you have to talk about the mind and uh those are, you know, pain, we know the emotional state will impact the perception of people’s pain and the level of pain they feel uh you know, that you can’t, you can’t unwind those two things.
So, you know, I think we’ve taken a lot of this ir va knowledge and packaged it up into these pillars and ways to talk about it that translate in the modern context.
Will you say more about the doses or the patterns in the body?
Yeah, I love talking about do because it was a game changer for me.
And it’s also been a game changer for patients uh or anybody learning Ayurveda.
But with my patients, sometimes I will introduce a couple of practices for them to do and then when they come back and they’re like, oh, you know, that did help, then I say, oh, you know, do you want to learn more about that?
Because there’s this system where that describes all of these things and, and it can be a game changer for people to understand themselves because in Irv, that health is created every day or disease is created every day.
It’s every day.
Your everyday choices, not just what you eat or what you say, the conversations you’re in how you move your body, but also what you think, what, what are you, you know what, what are your thoughts every day and any choice you make people don’t realize they have a choice over their thoughts.
So we get sabotaged by your thoughts.
We get attached to these thoughts, right?
And this is where mindfulness and present moment, awareness and observing thoughts.
So you realize I’m not my thoughts I have having a thought, it’s an experience.
Then I can choose to, you know, move my attention away from the thought.
Uh So that’s why I say choice because some people feel like, well, I don’t have, I don’t have a choice.
There are thoughts coming in all the time and that’s true.
But we do have a choice of what we attach our attention to, right?
So every choice we make food movement, what time we go to sleep, what thought we’re going to have, how we respond to that conversation or that life event that happened, either it does one of two things, it moves us toward imbalance or disease or it, it, it moves us toward health imbalance, that’s it.
And so when people start learning Ayurveda and what’s right for them because no, no one size does not fit all.
And so people look out there and they’re like trying all these diets and they’re trying all these things that works for their sister or their best friend or the person on the pod or, or podcast or Instagram, but doesn’t work for them.
They think there’s something wrong with them.
But in Ayurveda, there are very particular things that work for each dosha or mind body type.
And if you’re doing the opposite of what helps that, you know, for your mind, body type of course, that’s not going to help you.
And so the doses are described, there are three primary doses or let’s say, again, patterns of the psycho physio psychophysiology, they vata pitta kaa.
Again, they’re sanri terms.
But what they describe as a pattern, you know, I always tell people that’s how we learn about anything.
If you look at plants, if you look at animals, we package them up into patterns, we say mammals.
If you say the word mammal, everybody knows there’s certain things in common that they have.
If you say a succulent, we kind of know what you’re talking about because of the patterns that it has, it doesn’t need as much water, it has thicker leaves, blah, blah, blah.
So that’s how I describe this to people vata is people who have um and then again, in Ayurveda, we say more air and space qualities because everything that’s described in Ayurveda goes back to space, air, fire, water, earth, those are the five master elements.
But when we say space, air, fire, water, earth, we mean those qualities.
What does space represent?
Expansiveness, openness, lightness, uh potential because within a space, there’s the potential for anything to happen.
Air represents movement.
So when we say air, yes, it’s like the wind, but it also represents any place we see movement.
So within us, it’s the movement principle.
It’s a movement of our thoughts.
It’s a movement of electricity through all the nerves.
It’s the movement of di food through the digestive tract.
That’s air fire is transformation.
When you add fire to something, what happens?
It changes it, right?
The sun, the heat from the sun changes things.
So it’s like the biochemical reactions that happen in our body specifically or most specifically cellular metab metabolism, detoxification, um digestion, we’re taking food molecules, we’re adding fire and that changes it into something else.
Same thing with our thoughts.
We take thoughts, we add fire as a metaphor as a principle and we can transform our thoughts, right?
Water is cohesion.
It’s bringing things together, bringing our thoughts together to be more cohesive, bringing our lubrication in the body water and then earth is ultimately matter what we can touch.
We, we can see what we can interact with matter.
And in the mind, Earth is like the ultimate structure of our thoughts.
Memory say where we can carry things over day to day, the stability of the mind.
So Vata types, what that means?
We all have all the elements in us.
We have to because they all perform very specific functions, but we all come in with more of certain elements, more of their qualities than others.
So Vata types have more air and space.
So they’re going to be naturally light, thin, their bones are less dense.
They have a lot of movement principle both in their mind, you know, lots and lots and lots of thoughts.
We all do, but they have more, uh, and energy in the body can’t sit still.
You know, the people who have a hard time sitting still, that’s their nature.
You know, so to ask someone to just a kid, like just sit still.
If you’re a Kappa type and earth and water type, that’s super easy.
That’s your nature.
I’m a ka, I had no trouble with just sitting still at class.
That’s why all the teachers liked me.
But, you know, those little vata kids, they, they can’t sit still.
That’s like asking a hummingbird to stop moving so fast, right?
Um So Vata types like to move.
They have lots of thoughts.
They’re very, but what that does is it makes them very creative, it makes them energetic and spontaneous and imbalance.
So this is where it gets into balance, you know, when you get out of balance that can turn those very uh sort of helpful qualities, natural qualities into something a little more dysfunctional we can say.
So pittas are fire, fire and water.
So what does that mean?
They have the qualities of fire and water and they have the ability to transform their, their, they have great digestion.
They transform, form food into muscles.
So in their body, they’re naturally a little bit more muscular medium build, not the thin light, natural lata types, somewhere in the middle, more muscular, good digestion.
They have focus, they’re like a laser like that light fire and uh focused is a laser so they have that laser width, they have that laser intelligence, they can focus on a problem and solve it and they’re very goal oriented.
They make natural leaders, they like to be the leader, right?
And so that’s in balance, they can be very warm, they can be, again, good decision makers.
They, you know, they have good digestion out of balance, too fiery, right?
We can get into imbalances.
But so those are the natural qualities of a pitta, a Kafa that’s water and earth.
So what does that mean?
It means they have more of the qualities when you look in nature at water and earth mixed together.
It’s like mud, nice, soft, so it’s soft, it’s smooth, it’s slow, it’s steady, it’s cool.
That’s what Kaas are.
If you think of those qualities and those words, you can use those words to describe a Kafa type.
We’re cool and calm in the mind.
We move slowly.
So we get, we need a little push sometimes to get going and get a good exercise regimen going.
We’re a little resistant to, you know, change.
Um But a little heavier in the body.
So naturally and in good health, your alka is always gonna weigh more strong, steady, like a rock, you know.
And so, um but again, not enough movement that mud that moves a little bit can, you know, become too, too uh solid like cement.
And then, you know, that again relates to the imbalances So that’s a ka type.
They’re usually very laid back.
They’re like super chill.
Um, you know, and also don’t like to move a lot.
That’s not their nature.
So this helps people to understand themselves.
Oh, I’m a cuff.
No wonder it’s harder for me to exercise.
I don’t, that’s not my nature and it helps explain other people in your life.
You look at your kids or your partners or your coworkers and you’re like, oh, that’s why they are, you know how they are.
And if you can align yourself with what comes naturally to you, you’re gonna be healthier and happier and aggravate that, right?
We can bring up the other doses in within us because we all have all of them.
But it takes a little more energy, it feels a little less natural to do that.
But we can, right?
And again, sometimes we’re bringing up those different psychophysiological principles or doses in different contexts.
You know, as a parent, you can easily pull up that ka energy within you to be nurturing and soft and loving and kind and um you know, with your, you know, kids.
However, if your fire, if your pit is out of balance, you’re gonna be yelling and screaming and saying, why do you do that?
Na na na or if your wind is out of balance, you’re gonna be like super anxious like, oh my gosh, what if that happens?
What if that happens?
And then Liz.
Oh my gosh, I have so many things, you know, like that, worry, anxiety, insomnia.
So that’s kind of the basics.
But uh it goes so much deeper than that in an IRV that because you can, you understand people’s psychology and physiology, you can actually predict what choices, what activities, what jobs, you know, and anything, you can predict whether that particular thing based on that, those, those qualities are going to create an imbalance or create balance for any given person.
So it’s really a beautifully simple process, also extremely sophisticated of, yes, as you mentioned, there are many, many nuances because it, this is a simplified way of understanding people.
But you know, you can, there’s more deep uh information you can get about people just like we would do labs or whatever.
Um in Irv, that there were different ways of getting more information about people.
So you can really individualize every person’s daily practices, daily routine to help them, you know, create balance and health and happiness.
And uh so it took a lot of the mystery out of what I used to see in patients.
I had to like, I don’t know what’s going on now in with Irv, then having this approach, you can see.
Oh, well, that’s because you’re doing a lot of things that are creating movement.
You already have a lot of movement in your body.
You need to slow down or with someone else, I can say oh, because you’re already pretty fiery and you’re doing all these fiery things.
And so, like, stop that, you know.
And so, and, and maybe the most important thing is people can learn this about themselves.
And so then it’s empowering because the more and more you learn about Ayurveda, the less and less you need your doctor, which is great because you start realizing on a daily basis.
Oh, if I eat that or drink that, that’s not balancing for me.
If I do this, this is more balancing for me.
And you, you know, it’s people, it’s a people’s medicine, you know, and so I love that too.
It’s very empowering for people to start understanding themselves.
And this isn’t just in principle, this is what I’ve seen for over a decade now, almost 15 years of using Ayurveda in my practice and um hearing stories from people that would come to the center and learn about Ayurveda that just how it transforms their lives.
I love that.
I love that.
It’s called the people’s medicine.
Uh And how someone can learn more about.
OK, I tend towards this pattern towards this dosha.
And here are ways to care for myself more deeply so that I can move towards health.
Um Or if I’m making these other choices, then, you know, oh, this is why I don’t feel so good, which is awesome.
And it’s, you know, again, it’s not about being perfect.
I’m not very far from perfect.
But I’ll tell you when I eat late and I eat heavy because coffee also have a very sluggish digestion.
We just, you know, earth and water is, you know, it’s not that fire, that pittas can eat a lot.
They eat three, they, three meals a day and they eat more than everyone else and they digest it and you’re like, don’t gain weight, you know, because they’re active, they like to be, you know, active unless again they’re getting out of balance because any of the doses can get out of balance.
But their nature is that way.
And so for me, I know if I eat late and I eat heavy and I eat soft squishy food, like kas are soft and squishy.
That’s just gonna increase the earth and water in my physiology.
But for me means I gain weight.
I have more allergy symptoms.
I have fluid retention, you know, et cetera.
And so doesn’t mean I don’t, I do the perfect thing all the time, but life isn’t a mystery anymore.
I know exactly why I gained that extra weight, you know, and I know exactly what to do about it.
It’s not always easy but, uh, it takes the mystery out, you know, and I see people again who are like, I just saw someone recently.
It’s very cute.
She was 30 something and, uh, a pitta, a fire type.
So, very active, very busy.
Lots of things on their plate.
Lots of projects, lots of, like, like to exercise, you know, goal oriented.
I gotta do my 10,000 steps.
I have, they’re the ones who are, like, if it’s 9000, 999 they’ll stand up and do the one step because they can’t sit until that 10,000 is there.
Um, so I did a visit on her.
This was in my regular practice and she had a lot of the P A, um, aggravation sort of symptoms.
Labs were all good.
Nothing major, like from on her labs but symptoms little heartburn.
She was, you know, having some skin rashes again in IRV, that they would describe all of the things as pit to imbalance, migraines kind of feeling irritable.
So I said, ok, well, you know, let’s talk about your daily routine or weekly routine when we talked about it.
She was overdo, everything, overworking, over exercising does hate to hear that, but you can overdo anything.
So she said, I said, what’s your exercise like?
Oh, like, you know, three days, four days a week.
I do like whatever it was orange theory or, you know, some intense thing.
And then, you know, two days a week I do, um, you know, I, I kind of take it slow and I do yoga and then she keeps going and da da, da da.
And I said, ok, hold on.
When you say take it slow and you do yoga, you’re doing hot yoga, aren’t you?
And she’s like, yeah, and I was like, that is not, that’s pitta aggravating, you know.
Um, because when they do something they want to do it to the nth degree.
And so I told her, yes, do yoga but do restorative yoga, do a gentle yoga where you’re not heating your body up and, you know, so it’s interesting what Pittis thing is intense and what’s not, she thought that was the relaxing day.
Uh, and yeah, and then for vas they love going here, going there having new experiences, but that travel and those plane rides and going physically up in the air where there’s air and space, they get so constipated, dry, hard stools or skin gets dry, they can’t sleep, they come home and they’re depleted and they see other people doing that.
But so that it can’t be that right.
But when you understand, I’m a vata and when I increase the air and space with too much movement, too much travel, too much dry salads or dry foods to light foods, I need warm, cooked, moist foods.
You can take traps, you drink warm water on the plane, you eat warm food in the airport, you eat, you know, you, as soon as you get to the place you, you establish a routine, you take your oils with you aggravated.
People travel with oils so you oil your, um maybe just the bottom of your feet before you go to bed so you can sleep better.
You get on a regular routine as soon as you get into that new place.
So again, this, I don’t know if you want to call it hacks or what you know, that seems to be the term these days.
But for me, it’s more understanding.
I understand this is getting my ear and space out of balance so I can do this practice to try to balance that.
Ultimately, sometimes it does take just removing that like cancel that trip, don’t do you know so much traveling until you get back to balance and then do a little less of it and balance with warm, heavy moist things.
So yeah, people, it makes sense to people, you know, because that’s how we experience the world, we experience the world qualitatively.
We don’t experience the world as a molecule or as a photon or as a, you know, velocity.
We experience life as movement as fast, you know, as fast or slow as hot or cold as dry or moist.
And so when you start using things in that language and looking at everything you choose, is that dry or light?
Is that grounding or you know, like eerie, is that warm or cold?
It becomes much more easy to know what to do.
And that includes relationships, you know, does this, how do I feel after I have a conversation with this person?
How, how do I, you know, what is my state of balance.
If I’m out of balance, how am I gonna have a, you know, a, a conversation with this person?
Uh, you know, that goes anywhere.
It almost reminds me, or it makes me think of like a owner’s manual for the body.
Like here’s this body, I’m not really sure.
Like here’s some information on how to relate to it and to care for it.
I love that analogy.
I’m, I’m big on analogies.
Uh And so yeah, I love that.
It is, it’s like an owner’s manual for your body mind, you know.
Um and you know, because again, when, when you’re over stimulated, the other thing in Irv, that they use five, the five senses and an appreciation that everything outside of us comes in through these five senses, through our, you know, ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose and has an effect on us and it has an effect, very dramatic effect on our mind.
In Ayurveda, the senses you can use your senses to balance your mind.
So what are you listening to?
And that includes what people news, you know, what music, everything that you’re listening to and looking at, what are you smelling?
This is why aromatherapy is so powerful.
What are you tasting or food and also touch?
Are you hugging people that are loving?
Are you giving yourself massage?
Do you, you know, you know what, what that’s, it has all of the sensory input has to do with the nervous system.
And so if you look at how sensory input enters us, it all interacts with the nervous system and goes directly to the thalamus, the part of the brain where, you know, there’s memory mood, um you know, the emotional sort of parts of our brain.
So that’s why you can smell something, a perfume of somebody you knew your grandma’s, you know, you know, cookies baking in the oven, the smell of Indian food reminds me, you know, immediately takes you back because memory is in that, you know, kind of limbic system, but all sensory input goes right to the thalamus, the train, the station again in the analogy um and then to be distributed to these other parts of the brain where then we can kind of cognitively process things but it has the senses and the input into the census has an immediate effect on our memory, our mood, our state of arousal, even whether we’re calm or whether we get activated.
And uh this is where Ayurveda has lots of tools.
You know, if your vata is out of balance and you’re feeling ungrounded, the heavy smells like sandal wood and like chewy and like heavy smells are very grounding, right?
And they can immediately calm you down floral scents, you know, lavender, so many studies on lavender, but a lot of the the florals and vanilla, they’re heavier scents for pittas.
They fire fired up irritated.
You need to cool down the mind.
So actually florals are also good for pitta lavender rose.
Um There are other many cooling things.
Mint sandalwood, you know, have, have like cooling qualities, meaning they cool down the mind k of mind.
We have a tendency toward feeling heavy and dull and a little down, especially under stress and so light aromatics.
The pungent smells, rosemary, eucalyptus, Kemph or you know, some, some uh citrusy smells because there are a little fire in them can get us going right and wake you up and again, that state of arousal, it’s all controlled through the, through the brain.
So in ir that they use the senses to balance the mind even and food, you know, and we have all of this knowledge now of how the gut microbiome makes neurotransmitters and how that affects us.
So actually, there’s a whole, whole, whole science of food and how food can affect our mood as well.
That’s not new that people knew that thousands of years ago.
Well, but it’s a new science discovery for us.
I love it.
Yeah, it’s fun to rediscover it in a new way.
And there’s, you know, there’s pieces I think of what’s been learned that inform some of these ancient uh medical practices as well.
Um And that’s what I like to do.
I like to integrate, you know, because I do see the limitations of, I do see people that are trying to do all the right things.
And again, when we understand we live in a world, we don’t live in these isolated bubbles.
Sometimes you can do, try to do all the things but life is pushing you in a certain way or we’re exposed to many, many like overstimulation.
Everywhere you go, there’s like music playing, you know, I went to service my car and there’s like loud music playing in the thing.
You know, you go to the grocery store, I’m like, why it’s just overstimulating our nervous system.
But so we have to take that into context.
We live in a, in a larger world and so people do get out of balance, people do get disease.
We do have a stressful modern life that has somehow people have decided we need to work all the time and you know, people don’t live next door to their families anymore, like people used to and there’s, there’s, you know, many, many factors of modern society.
So people, yeah, and also people, you know, the food industry and everything, right?
Um, isn’t necessarily in our best interest uh of what’s easy and available and cheap.
So people do have disease and they do get sick and, and in those situations again, medications can really work wonders.
And when I give people prescribed people medication, I also try to tell them, ok, now, these are the things you can do to stay in balance to prevent the potential side effects of this medicine so that you can use that medicine as a, you know, as a nectar in Irv, that we would say not as a poison.
And so you can take out the benefits of the medicine but not get super out of balance.
Now, some meds again, because they really do push our physiology, shove it in a certain direction.
It’s, it’s good to try to not be them on up for long period of time.
Um, and that’s where sometimes working on your lifestyle can help people to wean down or wean off of certain me or at least not need to keep adding over time.
And, uh, but I also see people who are in the natural we old and, you know, they already meditate and they have a pretty good lifestyle.
Their blood pressure is high again, a lot of it is just this constant attack on our nervous system.
We’re always in a state of hyper arousal.
Uh, I’m like, just take this blood pressure pill.
It’s not poison, it’s gonna help you.
And, you know, so I kind of play the middle, the middle of the road a lot.
Uh, depending on the person, you know, that I’m talking to.
It makes, you know, we interviewed, um, a researcher who studies genetics and is also a psychiatrist and he was talking about the research on medications and different, you know, people who have different types of genes, um, certain medications work well, for them and others don’t.
And I’m imagining several years down the road.
Like, if we knew if they were Pitta Vata or Kafa and then knew which kinds of medications they responded well to.
Like that didn’t even, it’s a beautiful marriage of modern science and these ancient traditions.
And that’s why I love the research that’s going on and, and there’s this kind of, you know, infant field that’s just starting of a genomics where people are looking at, what are these genetic tendencies, that has to be genetic tendencies.
That’s why we see these different patterns, you know, like the genes just translate all of those differences into what we actually see.
Um and how, how things behave, how the molecules behave.
But there is some preliminary data on that where vas are more likely to have like if I see someone who has a lot of these little genetic mutations, whether it’s MTHFR or OMTE or many of them now that influence their detoxification pathways that they’re almost always.
And again, what I didn’t mention is people sometimes have a primary dosha, but a lot of people have two that are equal in their physiology uh that so they’re considered by dosha.
All that means is there are these two dominant forces or patterns that they have.
Uh so either it’s their dominant dosha or one of their dominant doses of vata.
And so what that translates into what we observe is they’re more sensitive to things.
They’re the ones that you give them something and they’re like, oh, yeah, I didn’t, you know, and then I remember training in medicine, people would come in, they were really sensitive to things and you would think it was like psychosomatic, which it is, I mean, I mean, it is, and it is, and it’s genetic too.
Like, so I thought that was interesting and I, I definitely have seen those patterns, you know, so if I see a vata and they have, you know, very bad anxiety, I might prescribe them like a half a dose of what you would normally prescribe to somebody of say, you know, a medi medication for anxiety or sleep or whatever it is.
Um I try to, you know, we try to do things and avoid them sometimes you need them, right?
And so I know because they’re a vata and now, then all of a sudden I started seeing studies where they said, oh, you know, some people do benefit from 10 mg instead of 20 but the studies were done with a certain dose 20 mg once a day.
And that’s what we prescribe because you have anxiety.
But if you said, oh, you’re a vata and you have anxiety, I’m gonna start with 10 mg of this medicine because I know you’re gonna be more sensitive to it.
So again, this is where um genomics I think is amazing.
Uh You know, all and it’s unfortunate that a lot of people are, I don’t know if it has to do with accessibility.
The cost of some of these tests like insurances don’t cover a lot of them.
But so many medicines we should be doing these genetic tests before we prescribe them.
Uh, and we don’t, and so at least in standard practices, a lot of integrated practices do that in certain fields like psychiatry, some cardiologists.
I know because a lot of the blood thinners, uh there are people that don’t respond to them and there are genes that will tell you that, but I still see so many that don’t use those tests.
Uh And I, you know, it’s, it’s too bad, it would help to personalize it, right?
Yeah, I’m glad you brought up up accessibility.
I was thinking about that when you said the people’s medicine and that you came from working in rural places like Alaska and Wisconsin and now working, you know, in a very urban uh you know, L A San Diego area.
So I’m like, how do you bring this information and make it accessible?
So, yeah, I mean, my hope is that against studies and science will help make it more accessible because when insurance pays for things, it’s obviously more accessible than if you had to, you know, you know, pay out for things.
Uh So we there’s, you know, data is has to be data driven, right?
And then you have to show the data and say, look, this actually will help XYZ and uh get it paid for, for people.
The other thing is just education, you know.
And so like, I’ve written lots of articles as have many people uh on chopper dot com.
You know, that’s free.
You go on chopper dot com and you go to the articles and nowadays there lots of free content, you know, um you never know what you’re reading.
So I would say, you know, go to a trusted source but you can educate people and a lot of people again, I see them in my office.
Uh It’s covered because I’m their primary care doctor, but I don’t have an hour to spend with them.
That’s the other problem in our regular uh model.
Uh But I can say, hey, go to this website, take this quiz, read about yourself.
We’ll talk about it next time you come in, I’ll see you in two months or three months and, you know, then they’re like, oh yeah, I’m a total voa type and I tried these things and so free educational things is very, um that’s one way to increase access, but people just need to know it’s out there.
And then as I’ve come to work with chopra and doing the certification programs, I, I feel very good that our teachers, they learn Ayurvedic lifestyle.
There are ayurvedic practitioners out there and I just want to make a clear distinction because uh out of respect for the level of education and training that people get, there are ayurvedic practitioners that learn herbs and how to make their own herbs and diagnose and treat people from an ayurvedic perspective.
But our certified instructors are, are um in our ayurvedic lifestyle program, are trained on ayurvedic lifestyle and how to go out and teach ayurvedic lifestyle to others.
And we have now several 1000 teachers that are out there and whenever I connect with them, and I hear their stories about how they’re sharing that information in their communities.
I’m convinced uh that that’s one of the things we need to.
It’s kind of, I don’t know, people used to call it the white night thing where like you can train somebody.
And then as we say in the chopper bowl, like they’re the little lights out in the world that are transmitting this knowledge then to everybody else.
But things like this, you know, where, you know, you allow people to at least just talk about these things.
Uh So there may be people listening who’ve never heard of IRB then now they’re gonna go look it up and that’s exciting.
Uh And yeah, so I think those are ways to make it accessible unfortunately, in the treatment.
Um You know, there’s certain things you can try to treat on your own if they’re simple, but it does get quite nuanced and complex and that’s when you need a practitioner.
And I know there are people that are lobbying to kind of have those things covered but our system is such that, that, you know, sometimes it, it takes a long time and, you know, it, yeah.
So, I think it’s multifactorial.
Um, I’m imagining so, like what you’re saying about the, um, vedic, it’s the, um, lifestyle teachers.
It’s sort of equates to a health educator whereas the practitioner is, you know, providing medicines and um more directive.
Uh you know, here’s what you need to do to help balance et cetera.
Yes, that’s a good way of putting it.
They’re like health educators on Ayurvedic health.
And then of course, we have our coaching program as well.
So then people can certify and sit for the health uh coaching.
Uh and then that, that increases, I was very excited when that happened because that of course increases access, potentially, I’m hoping that’s an avenue to get into the medical arena.
You know, when health coaching is covered or practices employ a health coach and every once in a while, one of them might be AYUR trained as well, like one of our auric health coaches.
So, uh they still need to know all the, all the obviously the medical health from a Western perspective, but we’ll have a little holistic approach as well.
So, so these are all the ways I think, uh you know, in India people don’t get formal education.
It’s just like kind of part of how you grow up.
Like a lot of people learn to cook and they’re like, no, no, you don’t put that with that.
And you’re like, why?
And they say, I don’t know, you just don’t, you know, or when you’re sick you just take this or here take this chew on these fennel seeds.
It’s good for your digestion.
It reduces gas because people just learn that as they’re growing up.
Uh, And so, you know, but here we have to maybe make it a little more formal because it’s not part of our growing up experience.
Yeah, it’s all so fascinating.
But I do think um sometimes people get critical of, yes, Irv, there’s a very classical traditional way of doing it and teaching it, you know, but not everybody’s cuisine is Indian.
And so what we try to teach people is what are the qualities so pungent foods or sour or sweet or, you know, these six and I that it doesn’t have to be Indian food, right?
You can make a meal with all of the things you need to balance all the dos and the uh elements by just finding what’s, what’s traditional or local in your cuisine.
And just look at the quality.
Every cuisine has different types of foods that when you add them together, we’ll synergize and give you everything you need.
So what we try to do is and as far as accessibility also make the knowledge accessible in the sense of I’m constantly saying, look what’s, what’s in your environment.
Look because we have teachers all over the globe.
Look at what’s local to your cuisine.
When you eat seasonally, there’s, you know, what, what are you finding locally?
You don’t have to go try to find a, you know, bitter melon that grows in some other part of the world.
But there’s definitely going to be a food in your environment locally that has those qualities, you know.
So, so that also is a way to make it more accessible.
And there’s so much, yeah, I love the five senses.
There’s, I mean, we could learn, we could talk all day and learn.
You know, I know, as you can tell, I could talk all day at Ayurveda is, it’s a lifelong learning too.
I, I don’t claim to be a, you know, there are ayurvedic physicians that I go to that I my mentors and I’m like, oh, what does Ayurveda say about this?
Uh And again, there’s classical teaching and then what I try to do and many people try to do is make it accessible to the modern world and the western world or whatever you want to say.
Uh because it can help people, you know, and that’s ultimately the goal is, is we want everybody to feel healthy and happy and live to their full potential.
And that’s really what Irv is about.
It’s, it’s balance the body balance the mind so that then you can move into like your purpose and have meaning in life and not feel stuck in the, you know, feel stuck.
And, and so you have physical mental and spiritual well being.
I have this, this recollection of um that there’s this aromatic principle that we’re attracted to that, which we need least is that, do I remember that correctly?
So yeah, in IRV, that we balance with opposites, but it’s sort of that thing like we learn in, in like to make an analogy like trauma situations, it’s what it’s what you know.
So you might think sometimes why does someone keep going back into that situation where they’ve been hurt before and they know it at some level, it feels com it’s comfort because I know that and I know I know that.
So it’s kind of like that with the elements when you’re a Vata, you know, air and space, you know, dry, rough, hard mo you know, mobile.
So that to some degree feels like that’s me and we’re kind of attracted to what we know as ac so sometimes vata people crave dry, crunchy snacks, which is the opposite of what they should be eating pitta, know fire, they know intensity.
So they’re drawn to intense things, intense flavors, really spicy food.
They want the, the most intense experience because that’s them.
That’s what they know.
Kafa, Earth and water.
So we love, you know, the heavy, the mushy, the sweet, the, you know, Chuck Lady Brown, I mean, not everybody does but like again to some degree um being still like that, that’s what we know.
It’s comforting to us, right?
When you, it’s your nature.
But with knowledge you say, OK, I get it.
I understand that this might feel more easy for me but to balance, I need the opposite and so I need to do things that are dry and light and moving.
And then once you do, there’s actually this thing that happens, a lot of people experience it.
Once you start feeling bounce, then you actually you, as we say in ivory, that it awakens that intelligence within you.
So then you start craving the things that are balancing for you.
So sometimes when the more out of balance we are, the more we crave what we know that stability, I know that I understand that when you’re in balance and again, we can relate this to other analogies.
Oh, that’s gonna get me out of balance.
I’m gonna choose this and that’s what I start craving, you know, once I’m in balance, so we balance with opposites and opposites always feel a little unnatural, right?
And so I think it was Mark Twain or somebody, at least I learned along the way it was him that said if you wanna be healthy and happy, do what you don’t want to do and don’t do what you want to do.
And so I think that speaks to that, that principle, you know, like I really wanna just sit here right now.
I’m speaking from my own experience and eat a bowl of ice cream, but I can’t because those are exactly the things that are going to get me out of balance.
Yeah, I love that.
It’s, I’m thinking about what you were just saying and people who are in a stressful experience and then craving and going to those old comfortable habits, right?
That aren’t pushing towards health but are comforting at the time.
Um, and how it takes this conscious choice, mindfulness to do the opposite thing that is bringing more balance into life.
And we do teach meditation to everybody who, you know, really does any of our programs because it really is the doorway to these, you know, when you’re stuck in fight or flight and your brain, your Amygdala is activated.
You can’t all of a sudden like, oh, let me think about it.
Your cognitive brain is shut off.
You’re just, you’re just reacting to everything.
So as you meditate, practice mindful, you know, mindfulness, all these practices, maybe yoga become present.
There are, there are these pauses that then you start to be able to be aware of your thoughts.
Oh, I, I see that thought.
I see my, there’s just pauses that you didn’t know were there?
They were there, you just didn’t know it where you can say Oh, how am I feeling?
Am I hungry?
Am I thirsty?
Blah, blah, blah.
You know, all the things, then all the little tips we give people, they can actually do them.
But if you don’t calm down the nervous system, if you don’t move the brain activity from fight or flight stress, amygdala reactive to now I’m starting to awaken some of these areas of the brain where I can practice emotional regulation and cognitive processing.
None of those tools work, you know, like conscious communication, you can teach people conscious communication.
But when they’re in fight or flight, they’re not thinking about the four steps of conscious communication, you know.
Well, and I’m thinking so I love studying the nervous system and I’m imagining that a vata type might be much more a flight response pit, a baby, more fight and then vata would be more of hypo arousal, right?
They might tend to numb and shut off.
And so um I can imagine, yeah, I’m like, oh, this look how easy it is.
It’s so easy.
And again, I will always tell people like these are categories that help us understand.
But we all have Ayaka.
So we can all have any, any of the expressions of any of those doses.
But you’re right in the sense that we have tendencies.
That’s what these patterns describe our tendencies.
So I always use nature as analogies because you can use these same ayurvedic principles in nature.
So just because a plant is a succulent, doesn’t mean with each plant in that category, you know, how much water it needs or how much, how it’s gonna act when the sun is, you know, in the sub.
You know, but in general you’re gonna have some idea of the tendencies of that.
And so you’re right.
But just get, like, gonna run away and you, and then they’re all in their fight, fight with their words too.
And then Kas are like, I don’t want to deal with this.
I’m going to go into my cave and withdraw.
I can, yeah, I can totally see that.
Um So I’m aware of our time as we wrap up.
Is there anything else that you want our listeners to know or understand today?
Uh You know, I think just be open, you know, be open to more expanded ways of thinking about things you don’t have to give up.
That’s the thing about Irv that always stop.
You don’t have to give up anything that you know, or understand to be true or works for you.
Uh But, but just try to expand, you know, what, how you think about health, how you think about mind, body and the mind body connection, how you think about lifestyle and the choices you’re making, how, how can, you know, you expand your toolbox?
That’s what took me into Ayurveda is like I had two tools, a medication or a procedure.
That’s a really small toolbox.
I mean, I didn’t realize at the time I was also using compassion and things that can come kind of naturally to me like to help people.
And now we have the science to show that, yeah, just how compassion heals people and, you know, didn’t realize that was actually doing something.
But uh I wanted to expand my toolbox, you know, I wanted to be able to have lots of tools so I could look at the per the person and say this is the tool you need.
And so that’s what I would tell people is think about these new ways of thinking about things as just more tools in your toolbox, you know, to help people or to help yourself really.
I mean, as we know, as healers and therapists or doctors or whoever it is, you have to heal yourself.
You have to be in as good of a state of balance as you can before you can actually help other people.
Well, uh or you, you know, you’ll burn yourself out or all the things we see, right?
Uh So yeah, so just and enjoy it.
Look up things about Ayurveda.
There’s lots of good information we have chopper dot com.
I also love, there’s a, a website Banyan botanicals ban is uh like the Banyan tree botanicals.
They sell a lot of herbs, but they’re actually an education platform too.
That’s really great for ayurvedic information.
Uh in a, in a, you know, sort of it organizes around these concepts of Vit Ka.
And um, so I, I enjoy their uh blogs and articles as well and there’s lots of good sites out there but books, now there’s more books than ever.
And I read the cook books where the recipes don’t all look like Indian food.
You know, it can be uh just like what you eat, but maybe there’s just two little factors missing that when you add that, you know, you know, it completely shifts your satiety, your metabolism, your digestion.
So have fun, you know, learn about Ayurveda.
Think about these basic principles of Ayurveda and how, how they, you know.
Well, you know, again, I think that just comes naturally once I learned aura that everything I look at now is like qualities, you know, and, and the, and the doses, even the climate, it’s, it’s dry and windy today.
It’s pretty vata uh in the air right now.
So I’m gonna use my oils a little more and drink a little bit more water and try to keep that balanced, which I don’t do that as much when it’s rainy and cold.
So, yeah, so have fun, learn more, you know, be happy, be healthy to help others.
Well, thank you, Dr. Patel.
It has been lovely to be with you.
I really appreciate you sharing um your passion and your knowledge and expertise with us today.
Well, thank you.
For the opportunity.
As I said, it, this is part of it, right?
Is is increasing accessibility is just talking about it and having platforms to be able to share this knowledge with people.
And so thank you.
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