All posts by Dr. Claudia Welch

About Dr. Claudia Welch

Claudia Welch is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, an educator, and the author of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Achieving Optimal Health and Wellness Through Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Western Science. Dr. Welch lectures internationally on Oriental and Ayurvedic medicines and Women's Health, bringing a depth of knowledge and a sense of joy to her presentations. She has served on the teaching faculty of The Ayurvedic Institute, Kripalu School of Ayurveda and Acupractice Seminars.

Angelina Jolie Got a Double Mastectomy – Should You? 10 Alternative Preventive Measures.

Angelina Jolie arrivingSo, Angelina Jolie got a double mastectomy as a preventative measure, in order to reduce her risk of breast cancer.

Should you do the same?

Angelina apparently had a particularly strong genetic tendency as well as a strong family history. Angelina made a brave choice that may have been the best one for her, but it is worth careful consideration around whether this preemptive strike is the right choice for any woman who carries the BRCA1 gene.

Genetic risk is real, but epigenetics has the potential to trump genetic risk. Epigenetics literally means “on top of genetics.” Epigenetic “tags” sit on top of our genes and turn them on and off. These tags are influenced by our experiences and environment. What we eat, how much stress we undergo, and what toxins we’re exposed to can all alter our genes. We are not at the mercy of our genes as much as they are at the mercy of our diet and lifestyle choices.

Here’s an example that should strike hope into our very souls: Dr. Dean Ornish has conducted research that found a vegan diet caused more than 500 genes to change in only three months. How? Epigenetic tags turned on genes that prevent disease and turned off genes that cause a variety of illnesses, including breast cancer, heart disease, prostate cancer, and other illnesses.

I think the term “Holistic Medicine” has been used so much that it has almost lost it’s meaning. What might be a better term is “Context-Driven Medicine.” Our bodies—our hormones, organs, tissues and systems—do not act in a vacuum. They respond to our environment and thoughts. Thought creates biology. So does environment. When we are afraid, our chemistry changes. When we inhale pollutants, our
chemistry changes. Conversely, when we enjoy whole food, fresh air, good company, and feed ourselves inspirational thoughts and ideas, we affect our thoughts, emotions, environment, epigenetic tags and, ultimately, our genes.

So what about mammograms?

Prevention is different from early detection. Early detection doesn’t stop breast cancer from arising. Prevention does. When we better our lives, our breast health can improve in response.

Here are some simple (but sometimes hard to hear) tips to support breast health:

  • Avoid alcohol. There is not safe level of consumption. For a good summary of this, check out this video. We like to drink alcohol for relaxation and, in some cases, to support heart health, but there are better, more effective ways to support heart health without increasing the risk of cancer.
  • Eat lots of veggies. Changes in diet may prevent 30-40 percent of cancer cases, or 3 to 4 million cases annually. Veggies protect against many types of cancer by enhancing cancer-protective capacity, deactivating carcinogens and blocking tumor development.
  • Have an exercise routine that is right for you.
  • Avoid too much coffee, especially non-organic. Coffee seems to have an affinity with breast tissue and women with sensitive breasts around their period might do well to avoid it.
  • Breastfeed! This increases circulation in the breast tissue. Women who nurse have lower risks of breast cancer. This decreases the potential for stagnation in the breasts. When we are not breastfeeding we can increase circulation in our breasts by massaging them on a regular basis.
  • Avoid the use of antiperspirants. They don’t allow the release of waste products from the local area.
  • Breathe deeply. This opens the chest area and reduces stress.
  • Eat organic, when possible. Especially meat and dairy, if you consume them. They concentrate pollutants that act as bad estrogens and are carcinogenic.
  • Avoid environmental pollutants. If you happen to be in an environment that is polluted from off gassing of carpets, paints, plastics, construction materials, etc. maybe fill the room with houseplants. They help to purify the air.
  • Don’t smoke. Please.

There’s more information on breast health and why all these things are important in Chapter 13 of my book Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life.

FDA SpyGate, Fear & Seduction: How can we make informed decisions?

There is, in today’s New York Times, an expose over which Hollywood must surely, as we speak (er…write or read), be collectively drooling.

In the article, In Vast Effort, F.D.A. Spied on E-Mails of Its Own Scientists,

Reporters Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane, write that the Food and Drug Administration has conducted a remarkably far-reaching surveillance of some of their own scientists who have questioned certain of the FDA’s rulings.

Here’s the meat of the thing:

“The extraordinary surveillance effort grew out of a bitter dispute lasting years between the scientists and their bosses at the F.D.A. over the scientists’ claims that faulty review procedures at the agency had led to the approval of medical imaging devices for mammograms and colonoscopies that exposed patients to dangerous levels of radiation.”

[for the entire article, click here.]

More than 80,000 pages of documentation were collected by the FDA, on 21 agency employees, Congressional officials, outside medical researchers and journalists they found had concerns about how the FDA makes their decisions. It seems, of six scientists suing the FDA, four were let go they claim, as retribution for speaking out.

Now. How does this concern us? It seems to me it is naive to trust the decisions that emerge from the FDA, whether we are physicians or patients. It also seems to me naïve to trust information coming from the manufacturers of drugs and medical devices. It is tough to make decisions about our own health care and to make informed recommendations to our patients when it is doubtful that we are given accurate information upon which to base our decisions.

Let’s take the mammogram question, for example.

I have personally known women whose lives were probably saved by a well-timed mammogram. And I have personally known women whose breast cancer was not detected by a mammogram, even though they had them very regularly. In Chapter 13 of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life, I explore the practice and efficacy of mammograms. I won’t get into it all here again. But, when we add to that exploration this new concern about whether or not we are receiving unsafe levels of radiation with our mammograms, well…the waters get even murkier, don’t they.

What to do.

It is easy to let fear run the show. We may opt to receive medical tests because we are fearful of disease. And we may opt never to receive them because we are fearful of their side effects.

Fear

In sanskrit the word for healthy is “svastha,” which means to be established in the Self. If we take external circumstances and information into consideration, then look inside for the clarity that underlies the data, our final decision is informed from within, as cliché or corny as that may sound. Whenever I am making a decision—medical or otherwise— I try to weed out fear and seduction from my motivating factors. I have found neither fear of things that have not yet occurred, nor seduction based on preferred outcomes, to be solid cornerstones of a wise decision.

There are no guarantees in medicine. So, for myself, I weigh the situation as clearly as I can, (yes, even in the face of the fact that I may not have accurate information about risks, etc.), try to throw the fears and seductions in the trash, try to find a bit of inner clarity that is usually buried underneath the fear and seduction, and then have the courage go with that clarity. And not look back.

And. If there is no clarity under there, I wait. One of my teachers used to say, “When in doubt, do nothing.” I have found this to be a powerful personal tool. I find that, if I have no clarity on something, that if I wait, the situation does become clear.

In the meantime, should I freak out?

Well

Nope.

Is there hope?

Always.

My guru used to say that it is better to dig the well before you get thirsty. It is similarly useful to practice listening within before we are in crisis. We can start by taking some full breaths, by feeding our minds and spirits some positive stuff and to enjoy the healthy physiological effects of all these things. Gratefully, they come with zero negative side effects.

Sacred Impressions in Nature and Man

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”

— Anne Frank

Lately I have been contemplating not so much what nature offers man, something I have often felt and experienced, and that Anne Frank so adeptly expresses, but what man brings to nature.

I have always been drawn to nature, solitude and beauty to heal what ails me, physically or emotionally. So I was recently surprised at the answer, when I considered what are the Top Spots in the world that have held the greatest draw for my spirit and solace for my soul. The places most effective at replacing my consternation with ease, and grief with comfort usually do have a beauty, and often are indeed remote and in rural locations, but they are not necessarily the most remote or the most beautiful.

They are places that feel sacred.

They are all places where saints have walked or lived or practiced their meditations, or where people have lived in harmony with and revered Nature.

Examples:

  • A remote place in the Vermont forest where my guru and his guru both walked.
  • Benares India, which has been home to Guru Nanak, Kabir, Ravidas and many other saints including, say some, Jesus. Though it is on the banks of the Ganges river and has a view of a rural riverbank across the way, Benares is not…er…quiet.
  • The woods and sanctuary where Saint Francis is said to have received the stigmata, in La Verna, Italy. Remote? Sort of, but not like you have to hike into the forest for 2 days to get there.
  • Sites where indigenous people have offered prayers and respect to Nature.

Maybe we have all felt the result of violence imprinted on the land, whether on an old battlefield, the site of the former twin towers in Manhattan, former concentration camps, or revisiting any place that holds painful memories for us.

If pain can be imprinted onto the fabric of an environment, so too might Love and devotion be able to create a lasting impression. These are the places worthy of pilgrimage.

While natural beauty and wilderness gives me a break from my mental chatter, and does indeed offer solace, when it is imbued with the gift of attention paid from devotees of God and Nature, it feels even more powerful. When I retreat to those places, the very fabric of my own being feels altered as I find my own perspective rearranged.

 

Pathological Altruism

You know that thing we do, where we overextend ourselves unnecessarily when we don’t have sufficient physical, financial, emotional or spiritual resources? Scientists have now coined a name for this: “Pathological Altruism.”

In today’s New York Times article about this, the incomparable Natalie Angier gives revealing examples: a doctor who pushes for more invasive, aggressive techniques because “there is always hope,” “animal hoarders” (a real term) who amass so many animals that they can’t care for them all and they begin to die, patients of bulimia who are so tuned into others feelings that they sacrifice their own well being.

I grant there are times when over-extension is necessary. I often give this example: I arrive home tired at the end of a long day. I know that what I need is a home-cooked meal, a bath and a soothing evening. But as I am leaving my car, I see my elderly neighbor has fallen, injured himself and can’t get up off the sidewalk. Nobody else is there to bring him to the hospital. What do I do? Take my bath and leave him there? It is not even a question. Of course I bring him to the hospital.

Or maybe I have a chronically sick child, parent, spouse, pet. Or an infant. There are stretches in life that demand a lot.

These situations are the exceptions to the put-on-your-own oxygen-mask-before-helping-your-neighbor-on-a-plane rule. When we make it a habit to prioritize our own well being, we are not sacrificing the well being of others. On the contrary, we are likely to be healthier, kinder, more solid human beings and, fundamentally, isn’t that who we would like to see populate our world? Isn't that what we thrill at seening in our children and admire in our heros?

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / rishibando

Contextualizing Weirdness. What Ptolemies, Artificial Insemination and Genghis Khan Have in Common

There are many things to freak out about.

How about this: Thinking of a sperm donor?: Ramifications you may not have thought of.

Good? Are you sitting comfortably? Then we shall begin.

As we know, many women in our modern world are choosing to have babies on their own and opting for sperm donors and artificial insemination. So there is a demand for sperm donors. What we may not know, are some of the unusual issues that are starting to arise from this practice. There are not many regulations in place to keep track of all the babies born from one donor, so we are starting to see increasingly large groups of donor siblings. For example, The New York Times recently reported on a woman researching this, and finding 150 half siblings to her child.

While that is one of the larger groups, there are many with around 50 half siblings and often these groups are in the same geographical location.

Naturally, there is concern growing that half siblings could accidentally meet and get together and bear children of their own and, well, pretty soon things would be looking positively Graeco-Roman Egyptian. (Think Ptolemaic Dynasty). (Think Wikipedia). Even without the GRE soap-opera drama, there is a greater risk of genes for rare diseases spreading into the population more rapidly. And there is the question of psychology. What does it feel like to know that you are one of 50 siblings? What are those consequences?

Now, at first glance we may think, “Holy cow. This has never happened before! Whatever will become of us??!!” BUT. Don’t panic. Actually it has happened before. Maybe not with test tubes. But with monarchies.

There have likely been loads of monarchs who fathered, like, a gazillion children, but one in particular comes to mind. My husband and I were just listening to a podcast (can’t remember which one unfortunately). Scientists were finding the same genetic material in individuals all over Eurasia. When they traced it back, they traced it to one man in the 12th century. One man who traveled very extensively. At exactly the time when Ghengis Khan was pillaging. Actually, they think it was Ghengis Khan. He was the father that began genetic lines that to this day are widely found in various communities throughout Eurasia. Scientists studying Y-chromosome data have found that about 8 percent of the men living in the former Mongol empire carry nearly identical y-chromosomes. That’s about .5 percent of the male population OF THE WORLD, or about 16 million descendents we can find living today. Somewhere on the web I found this idea: that Genghis Khan was with so many women that there is a .5 percent chance that you are related to him.

I have no doubt there are consequences to this many-half-siblings phenomenon associated with the practice of artificial insemination, and I bring this up precisely because this is the kind of thing we might do well to consider before deciding on artificial insemination. (I also recommend reading Ch. 12 of my book, Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life. It goes into some other issues associated with Assisted Reproductive Technologies that are worth considering).

I don’t underestimate the gravity of the situation. Though, if I had to chose between artificial insemination and being visited by Genghis K., well, it wouldn’t be much of a choice. The violence associated with the latter is hard to fathom, compounded when we consider the scale we are talking about.

I think it is important to consider the ramifications of our choices, as best we can, and remember that there have been times of great upheaval and weirdness in other historical times as well as our own (think both Ptolemies and Genghis Khan) and, as as we consider this new world in which we find ourselves, we may do well to adopt (rather than inseminate?) a sense of perspective, if not humor and, as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy recommends, "Don’t Panic."☺

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Michel.h

Extremely Extreme

I was thinking…

About what it means to be extreme, and how that changes from time to time.

For example, traditionally the Aghora sect of Hinduism has, at least in part, at least according to my understanding, embraced practices that would seem extreme to non-Aghori Hindus.

Or just about anybody else. Meditating in graveyards, maybe on corpses, inviting a relationship with what others would shun, in order to arrive at acceptance of, and relationship with, Reality. They had no use for the dogma of the elite—nor the snootiness that often accompanied. In going against the momentum of mediocrity, they attempted to engage in living alchemy and embrace Reality. Of course, there are other examples of individuals preferring to live according to a Truth that landed them in trouble with the presiding ruling class or Powers that Be (or Were). Saint Francis. Jesus. Guru Arjun Dev. Boston Tea Party. You get the idea.

It has occurred to me that, today, going against the tide would have to look very different from how it would have had to look a century ago. Or even quarter of a century. These days extreme is the soup du jour. From Fear Factor to Extreme Makeover to people You Tubing your latest stunts (“this is me launching myself into a brick wall,” etc.), to photos of naked musicians covered in blood adorning popular magazines, to speeding up football (which is kind of cool, actually…see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/magazine/05Football-t.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a210) it is hard to think of what it would be that modern society would shun as too extreme.

What would be the most extreme thing we could do now? What would out-extreme extreme? The thing we could do that would establish us as serious swimmers against the tide, as shaking off the status quo and becoming situated in our selves?

How about this? Slow down. Surrender ambition. Stop.

Extremely Extreme

I was thinking…

About what it means to be extreme, and how that changes from time to time.

For example, traditionally the Aghora sect of Hinduism has, at least in part, at least according to my understanding, embraced practices that would seem extreme to non-Aghori Hindus.

Or just about anybody else. Meditating in graveyards, maybe on corpses, inviting a relationship with what others would shun, in order to arrive at acceptance of, and relationship with, Reality. They had no use for the dogma of the elite—nor the snootiness that often accompanied. In going against the momentum of mediocrity, they attempted to engage in living alchemy and embrace Reality. Of course, there are other examples of individuals preferring to live according to a Truth that landed them in trouble with the presiding ruling class or Powers that Be (or Were). Saint Francis. Jesus. Guru Arjun Dev. Boston Tea Party. You get the idea.

It has occurred to me that, today, going against the tide would have to look very different from how it would have had to look a century ago. Or even quarter of a century. These days extreme is the soup du jour. From Fear Factor to Extreme Makeover to people You Tubing your latest stunts (“this is me launching myself into a brick wall,” etc.), to photos of naked musicians covered in blood adorning popular magazines, to speeding up football (which is kind of cool, actually…see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/magazine/05Football-t.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a210) it is hard to think of what it would be that modern society would shun as too extreme.

What would be the most extreme thing we could do now? What would out-extreme extreme? The thing we could do that would establish us as serious swimmers against the tide, as shaking off the status quo and becoming situated in our selves?

How about this? Slow down. Surrender ambition. Stop.

 

A Heart of Iron and Wax

For a long time I have reflected on something that my guru said on more than one occasion. Here are the exact words, in one case:

“And then we should have confidence, because a coward can never achieve any success. Only a strong-hearted person can achieve success. …You have to have a heart made of iron; you have to be a strong-hearted person.”

Whenever he said it, at least in the contexts I have found, it was in the context of treading a spiritual path and being firm in the resolve to do so successfully.

I have thought of this, that you have to make your heart like iron, many, many times– usually in the context of my own fear or feeling of weakness in the face of things that act as my personal triggers.

And then I get hit with the (somewhat obvious, I suppose) inherent problem: If you make your heart like iron, are you then hard hearted?

I recently put this question to a dear friend. Without missing a beat, he replied that the saints say that we should have soft hearts, and that they themselves have hearts like wax.

I let this sink in. So often I have found that concepts that seem so paradoxical in the life and teachings from saints, are ones that hold some secrets, or some power to transform.

This friend of mine, who brought my attention to the importance of a soft heart…well, this was deeply meaningful coming from him. There have been a number of times over the years that I have been stunned into silence and impressed (in the real meaning of impression…like an impression was made on the stuff of my being) by the softness of his heart and his instinct toward that state of being.

He consistently leans towards kindness and offers dignity to others in such a tender way that, to me, feels miraculous.

When he replied without hesitation to my question about iron hearts, with the reminder that the saints have hearts like wax, that they melt in response to the sufferings, great or small, of their disciples, this too made an impression.

So, the charge it seems, is to have a heart like iron and wax. The soft heart does not mean a reduction of all personal boundaries, just as the iron one is not the same as a hard one. Are we soft with others, in the external world, and iron in our internal world? These are tough concepts to verbalize. Powerful paradoxes.

When should it be iron? When wax?

My guru wrote, “Keep doing the simran (the remembrance of the Divine) while walking, and the destination or aim will come to you by itself.”

Applied to this heart paradox, it seems to me: keep in remembrance of the Divine, as much as possible, and the correct attitude of the heart will follow. Not that there is a tidy little summation possible here or that words will necessarily do the thing justice…

One way of staying in remembrance—for me—without relying on tidy summations or dictums, is to read the stories of courageous people or saints or even myths. Ones that inspire. And let them sink in and hope that they work their transformative magic without my mental limitations getting in the way. They say that, if children grow up hearing or reading myths, that they are more successful in life. In that regard, and at the risk of sounding too much like Winston Churchill (never, never, etc.) I’ll end with this quote…

“Try to become a channel for the Divine and the Divine will then flow through you. This is not something impossible, but it is the very acme of all human endeavors. Just learn to implant lofty ideas in your subconscious mind and feed them with the waters of self-confidence, determination, diligence and adaptability. Stick to your guns. Never stoop low, never and still never. Stand aloof with your sublime principles of life, which will stand by you in your hour of need.” Kirpal Singh

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / y2bd

“Speak Father, Speak…”

 “Speak, father, speak to your little boy. Or I shall be lost forever.”

This is the poem 9 year old Tommy Donahue (now 37), wrote to his father, who had been killed. It is a story dominating Boston recently. And my heart and thoughts this morning.

It is the voice of a child to his father, and could equally be the voice of a mother to her deceased child, a wife to her husband, the child of the Divine to her Parent, or of the prodigal son. Tommy is supplying the words for many of our own private tragedies and epic love stories.

There is a long history of lovers gifting their words and stories to the world, to be employed for expression of profound love, longing and grief.

In India there are many ancient stories and poems of lovers; some very similar our Romeo and Juliet. Laila and Majnu is one such story. Heer and Ranja another. Lovers, separated by fate, joined in longing. Such stories have traditionally been used to illustrate the relationship of the lover to the Beloved, not only between man and woman, but between the drop and the Ocean, the child soul and the Parent Oversoul, the disciple and the Master.

My teacher used to say that it is the birthright of each Soul to be reunited with Her Home. He used to say that the very longing of the Soul to go Home is purifying and sacred in and of itself, and brings Her closer.

So, in India, epic love stories were devised to explore and reflect this sacred relationship of longing.

By and by, along came Bollywood.

Stories of lovers are Bollywood’s bread and butter.

“Laila and Majnu”: The Musical was inevitable. And I suppose it was inevitable that it would become one of my favorites. Something that has struck me since I became aware of it in my late teens or early twenties, is that there are exact phrases and metaphors in the songs of Laila and Majnu (The Musical)–and other Bollywood love stories — that are regularly employed in the poetry of the mystics in India (including my teachers). For example, there is the image or the word “jholi.” Jholi is a bag used by beggars. When they go begging, they hold out this bag for the donor to fill. In the beautiful Laila/Majnu song, Mei Tere Dar Pe Aaya Hun, there is a chorus that translates:

I have come to your door.

There is something I will do before leaving.

I will fill my jholi and leave

Or I shall leave by dying.

The lover is comparing himself to a beggar. He will come to her door and if she does not quench his love, he will die.

If you think this is a little dramatic, perhaps you have not been long acquainted with Bollywood. Or with Indian culture. Or with the angst of the Lover?

Anyway, my teacher, among many, has employed this very jholi metaphor in their own poetry. Consider this line:

Whoever has meditated or remembered You, with a true heart, even for once — with both Your Hands full You filled his jholi with Your Love.

Thus, it is not uncommon to be walking in India and have some heart-wrenching (sometimes ear-splitting) Bollywood song pierce through the hot streets and dusty air and penetrate the heart.

But, lest we think soul, love, separation, longing, divinity and pop culture only mix in the gullies of Delhi, consider  Mr. Tambourine Man. Or Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill, or In Your Eyes. 

In your eyes

the light. the heat

in your eyes

I am complete

in your eyes

I see the doorway to a thousand churches

in your eyes

the resolution of all the fruitless searches

in your eyes

I see the light and the heat

in your eyes

oh, I want to be that complete

I want to touch the light

the heat I see in your eyes

Thank you, Tommy. May your Father rest in peace.

 

Pleasuring the Senses Into Pacifying Pitta

We in the West often find ourselves in the middle of a personal, national or cultural love affair with All Things Pitta. Since both Pitta and summer are hot, Summertime can intensify that inclination all the more.

For those of you unfamiliar with Pitta: it is a term Ayurveda uses to describe a certain constellation of qualities that manifest in the body, emotions and mind. These qualities are oily, sharp or penetrating, hot, light, spreading and liquid. In moderate amounts, these qualities benefit our bodies and minds. When we indulge in–or are exposed to them in excess–either in our diets, environments, seasons or lifestyles, Pitta may increase beyond a point of comfort and balance.

The sharp quality manifests in, among other things, sharp and penetrating intellect, sharp wit, sharp tongues, even sharp cheeses. The light quality may manifest as a thin body, light sleeping, caffeinated beverages among other substances and experiences. The spreading quality may manifest in Pitta people–or their brainchildren—as becoming popular or famous, as their name, ideas, or creations spread. Heat may manifest as hot weather, hot tempers, “acid stomachs” spicy food, coffee and alcohol, among other things. Together, these culturally attractive qualities put their collective shoulders to the wheels of ambition, and drive people with high Pitta into exhaustion as well as “success.” 

As many of you know, it is traditional to treat high Pitta with bitter, astringent, sweet, cooling foods that could include greens–especially bitter varieties–milk, ghee, some beans, sweet grains, fruits and vegetables. But, along with this common, taste-oriented approach, there are other treatments that Vagbhatta, (author of Ashtanga Hrdayam, one of the fundamental, ancient texts on Ayurveda,) prescribes. I particularly love these. They so pleasantly affect the other five senses (smell, touch, sound and vision) as to make one wish for high Pitta, just to be able to justify the pleasure of the treatment.

Along with some of the usual suspects, like eating milk and ghee and having appropriate purging therapy, Vagbhatta recommends using agreeable, cooling perfumes and garlands, wearing pleasant, cooling gems on the chest, applying paste of sandalwood or khus (vetiver) over the body “minute after minute,” spending time on moonlit terraces in the evenings, (did you hear that?) enjoying pleasant music, soft, cool breezes, pleasant company of friends who are not controlling, company of sons who speak “heartily and innocently,” of an obedient, pleasing, virtuous wife (let us just say “spouse.”) He further says it is good to reside in houses that feature cool fountains, parks and ponds or that are near clean water reservoirs with sand, lotus, flowers and trees, and to cultivate a calm mind. Just reading these things makes me happy.

After I read this I thought it is no wonder Pitta people are ambitious. Perhaps we feel we must become millionaires so we can afford terraces upon which to reside in the moonlight, houses with fountains, ponds and lotuses. But here’s a news flash: You don’t have to be a millionaire to do this stuff. You can slow life down, put a small fountain in your house, play soft, pleasing music, apply cooling, sweet essential oils like natural rose or khus, put flowers in your house, plant them around it, choose pleasing company and encourage a calm mind. And let’s not forget: spend a little time in the moonlight in a soft, cool breeze. No extra charge.

Here’s to a beautiful summer.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / ammgramm



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