Written by John Immel, Asheville, NC
Step 1: The Eyes
Step 2: The Head
- Are your eyes moving or relaxed? Anywhere you find tension, treat it with tenderness.
- Are your eyes stinging? Dry? Sticky or gooey? Is there sleep in your eye?
- How do the muscles around your eyes feel?
Step 3: Sinuses
- How does your forehead feel? Is there any tension? Any thoughts?
- The back of the skull is usually more mysterious and quiet - our ancient lizard brain.
- The center of the skull is balanced between the activity of the frontal lobe and the relaxation of the back of the skull.
Step 4: Tongue / Mouth
- Take a breath. Notice the qualities of the air as it hits your nostrils.
- Are your sinuses wet? Dry? Swollen? Irritated?
Step 5: Throat / Lungs
- What is the taste on your tongue? If you were to ask 20 people you would get 20 different answers. Everyone has a unique taste on their tongue, depending upon their diet and constitution.
- Ayurveda says the taste on your tongue is the taste of your blood. What's your blood chemistry? Is it sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent, metallic? If it is sweet you might be susceptible to cavities. Do you have bad breath? That means your body is toxic.
- Rub your tongue along the top of your mouth. Is the top of your mouth smooth? If yes, then perhaps your saliva is thick. Is it rough? If yes then your saliva may be thin or dry.
- Look at your tongue in the mirror. Is it pale? Red at the tip? Purple? Swollen? Are there red spots? Red spots might mean you are coming down with a cold. Does it have a white, yellow, or brown coating?
Step 6: Heartbeat
- Notice the back of your throat. Is it swollen? Do you have post nasal drip?
- Take a deep breath. Was that easy? Smooth? Rough and choppy?
- Feel your heartbeat at the top of your breath. Is your heart beating fast or slow? If fast, why?
- Where is your heart sending blood? Pitta dosha decides where the blood goes.
- Is your blood focused on digesting food? Energizing your mind?
- The feeling in your heart is the feeling others have in your presence - it's your vibe.
Feel Your Major Organs
Western medicine talks about the heart as a mechanical pump, but every culture views the heart as an emotional organ. In the middle ages, the heart was the seat of the mind. When you say, "Here I am!" you point to your heart. The heart has reasons for doing things that the brain may not be able to justify or sympathize with. By nine years old you should be able to report how your major organs are doing. According to Chinese medicine, the five major organs are the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys. We talk about what is pleasing to the eye. Pleasing to the tongue. What would please the kidney or the liver? Fats please the liver. Salt pleases the kidneys. In the West, psychoanalysis has placed a lot of effort on the mind body connection.
Step 1: Liver
Step 2: Kidneys
- How is your liver today? The liver is an organ, like the heart, you can feel inside your own body. In the beginning, you might have to infer using other organs. The liver is a bloody organ and maintains good blood chemistry. When the liver is overwhelmed, you can tell by checking other bloody organs like the eyes and skin. Are your eyes stinging? Does your skin look yellow, olive colored, or red? Your liver might be deficient or congested. You can also try palpating the liver beneath the right rib cage. Inhale and reach around your right rib cage. On the exhale push your hand in gently. On the next inhale, check to see if you feel any pain. Pain indicates inflammation around the liver. Be gentle with your body if you feel any sensitivity. Pain anywhere in the body should always be checked by a medical doctor. The liver is called the 'live-er' because it helps you live. It is one of the most important organs for your health.
- How are your kidneys? The kidneys are located where the ribs meet the spine, about two inches away from the spine. The kidneys feel uncomfortable when you press on them. You shouldn't press too hard on the kidneys because they are sensitive organs. Eventually, you will be able to feel your kidneys by simply arching your back. The kidneys filter toxins from the blood and eliminate them through the urine. Your kidneys may feel uncomfortable when you are dehydrated or during an infection. Gray skin or teeth, poor electrolyte balance, dehydration, water retention and cloudy urine are all signs of weak kidney function. Kidneys can be dry or congested.
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About the Author
John 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.
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