Written by John Immel,
Despite this natural desire, attempts to know your client can be excessive and lead to poor boundaries, including
The PulseFor example, some Ayurveda practitioners attempt to perceive the entire essence and soul of the client through the pulse. While some content of the client's being is accessible via the pulse and other diagnostic tools, it is important to understand the limitations of this. While the pulse can be deeply informative, it is also highly subjective. The pulse is not meant to be relied on alone. Ayurveda favors using multiple diagnostic tools together to comprehensively assess health. These include, among others, the 3,8, and 10 fold examination techniques (trividha, ashtavidha, and dashavidha pariskha).
Constitution (Prakruti)Another example is the attempt to perceive the essence of the client through dosha assessment (prakruti). A whole person cannot be reduced or simplified to 3 words, or even a finite number of words.
PresumptionDosha, and other Ayurvedic assessment tools, offer a helpful approximation of the person's being. As helpful as they are, no tool can ever fully understand or perceive all the complexities of the person as a whole. Nor should it try!
Claims to perceive the core of a client's being are presumptuous. Practitioners may "feel" like they are perceiving the soul of the client. But do they have proof of this? In reality the experience might be an ego-trip, only. There is no formulaic technique to know a whole person's body, mind, or spirit. Ayurveda is not sufficient to know a whole person's body, mind or spirit. Just as science cannot know a whole person despite all its wonderful powers, Ayurveda's techniques are a limited window into a person's being, too. As powerful as Ayurveda is, practitioners should not claim Ayurveda offers mystical insight or miraculous powers of observation. One can never know the entire essence of another person. Is there anyone that understands the entirety of your being? Have you ever completely penetrated the mysteries of another person? Even after 50 years of marriage, you still may not know the entire depths of your spouse. Certainly an Ayurveda consultation cannot claim to offer this.
Instead, practitioners should adopt a more sober approach, especially during pulse and prakruti assessment,. This will ensure the practitioner makes a grounded, accurate assessment of the client's condition.
Invasive / UnethicalEven if it were possible to penetrate & perceive an entire human being, it would be unethical and invasive to attempt it without revealing that intention. Such a practice would invite a deep intimate and spiritual connection between the practitioner and client, without the client's consent. Deep intimacy can lead to an unprofessional power dynamic between practitioner and client.
Risks to the PractitionerMaintaining healthy boundaries with clients supports the mental health of empathetic practitioners. Lack of boundaries exposes the practitioner to the spiritual and emotional influences (both negative and positive) of the client. These influences may be difficult for the practitioner to shed.
Tips for Maintaining Healthy Boundaries
ConclusionIn a clinical setting, there is the challenge between knowing your client well, and maintaining healthy boundaries. Practitioners should expect diagnostic tools to reveal important information, but not the entire essence of a complex human being. Excessive openness can have unhealthy consequences. It exposes the client and practitioner to physical, emotional, and spiritual influences from the client. Instead, clients and practitioners should maintain a healthy separation between themselves and others.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.