tossed and turned all night. The alarm didn’t go off. You’re late
for work. There’s a deadline to meet, but your computer is acting
up. Three cups of coffee later, your head still throbs. Your back
hurts. Your eyes sting each time you blink.
"No way," smiles John Peterson of Muncie, Indiana. Sitting
by the banks of the rippling Big Thompson river in Estes Park where
he’s flown down on vacation, Peterson looks so relaxed you’d never
guess his profession. But perhaps being an Ayurvedic physician takes
away much of the stress of being an MD with a thriving practice.
" I took the first Maharishi Ayur-Veda physicians training course
in 1985 and found that it helped me understand myself, the patient,
the world, and ever modern medicine in a richer, fuller way,"
says Dr John Peterson.
"Every day," continues Dr Peterson, "I see people who
perceive their problems as purely physical. Typically, they will say
their head hurts or their kidney seems to be in trouble. But after an
appointment with me, they realise it is all one: body and mind and
heart. Once they understand this core connection Ayurveda believes in,
getting rid of a physical problem becomes a blessing in disguise—it
becomes a journey towards fuller health."
In Ayurveda, says Dr Peterson, you need never damage your body by
ingesting side-effect-causing pills and potions. You give it just what
it really needs. Some tender loving care, supplemented by totally
natural and safe herbal formulations.
As a first step toward taking responsibility for their own health, Dr
Peterson advises his patients to invest time and energy on their
routine. "Little things count. Each moment you spend on yourself
is like pennies in the bank. The benefits add up. Take oil massage,
for instance. Ayurveda urges you to massage yourself with a good
oil—preferably sesame oil -- every day.Sesame oil is a very
versatile ally in your efforts toward better health. I recommend three
ways to use it:
a) Try sniffing it (nasya) to lubricate and protect your nose and
sinuses, which are the ventilation system for your brain. The oil
helps clear mucous out of the sinuses. Just dip your little finger in
the sesame oil you use for your massage and rub the oil inside of each
nostril. Then pinch and release your nostrils rapidly while inhaling
b) Gargle it for two minutes. It's not as bad as it sounds! Swish a
mouthful of it, then spit it into the toilet and rinse your mouth out
with warm water. It feels great, draws out mucus and has been shown to
reduce gum disease.
c) Best of all, massage it lovingly all over your body to release skin
impurities, then bathe or shower with warm water. If you have time, a
warm tub bath increases circulation and is a means of further
And this joyful routine of luxurious massage is just a very tiny part
of the holistic Ayurvedic game-plan against stress.
For even richer health benefits, Dr Peterson advises following the
Ayurvedic routine chalked out by physicians many thousands of years
ago. "Ayurveda believes we are composed of the elements that
constitute the Universe. It follows, then, that the laws that govern
the Universe are also good for us. Taking the logic further, we know
that the Universe follows a regular rhythm of time and season. Well,
then, so must we," reasons the doctor.
Here's how your day would progress if you followed a good Ayurvedic
Early to bed and early to rise. Going to bed before 10 p.m. allows us
to have the best quality sleep and gives the body a chance to use the
increased metabolism of the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Pitta) time of night to
digest impurities instead of the pizza we might have eaten at
midnight. Waking up before 6 a.m., we catch the fresh energy of
Nature's morning and are lighter and more flexible and energetic than
if we sleep in. Studies show that early rising helps people with
depression have more energy.
Kickstart your metabolism with a large glass of warm water: spike it
with fresh-squeezed lemon and a spoonful of raw honey to help
eliminate toxins from the night's metabolism and stimulate a morning
Prepare your system for a fresh day’s intake: cultivate a healthy,
regular bowel habit. If your bowels are irregular, try to train them
to move by just sitting on the toilet five minutes every morning.
Pay utmost attention to your teeth: The white-coating you see on your
tongue every morning is ama or built-up toxic matter that causes decay
and bad breath. Use a silver or stainless steel tongue-scraper to
clean this out. You can use a silver spoon until you get a
tongue-scraper. This also gives your digestive tract a reflexive
Enjoy a head and body massage (abhyanga) with cured sesame oil.
Emphasize the ears and the soles of your feet, which contain reflex
points for the whole body. Self-massage increases the coordination of
mind and body, stimulates the muscles, loosens impurities, pacifies
the nervous system and lubricates and protects the skin. It has also
been found to decrease the incidence of some skin cancers.
Stretch. Sun Salutations and yoga asanas, done slowly and with your
attention on the body, stimulate the marma points and infuse
consciousness into the physiology. The classic texts describe marma
points (from which acupuncture points are derived) as areas through
which bliss infuses the body.
Practice Pranayama. Simple breathing exercises settle the nervous
system and clear the mind.
Meditate. Transcendental Meditation allows the mind to settle
effortlessly into its simplest form of pure awareness, eliminating
"noise" in the nervous system.
Exercise according to individual preference - easy walking, biking or
swimming - and keep your mind on the physical activity, not distracted
by TV or music. Exercise to only 50 percent of capacity.
Wear clean and comfortable clothes suitable to the season and your
Eat a light, nutritious breakfast. Digestive power is not very strong
in the morning.
Work or study according to your dharma, meaning activity which is
enjoyable and life-supporting for you
Lunch should be the biggest meal of the day because your digestion is
strongest then. (Daytime Pitta is when the sun is overhead from 10
a.m. to 2 p.m.) Diet should be balanced according to your
constitutional type. It's important to eat sitting down and pay
attention to the food with all your senses, because this helps the
body know how to process it most efficiently. Pleasant conversation is
fine, but eating when you are watching TV, reading, upset, angry or
trying to forge a business deal keeps your body's energy divided and
disturbs digestion. It is good to have a moment of quiet contemplation
before eating and to sit for 10 minutes or so after lunch, enjoying
A brief rest after lunch gives you a good start on digestion. If you
want, lie down on your left side, which gives the stomach more room to
Work or study according to your dharma.
Practice yoga asanas, pranayama and meditation before the evening
Supper should be lighter than lunch so that your body can digest it
completely before you go to bed. Then your body can use its nighttime
digestive power to get rid of impurities while you sleep.
Enjoy some pleasant relaxing activity, and then go to bed early - no
later than 10 p.m.
"To many people, the thought of committing to this routine seems
daunting at first," says Dr Peterson. "Where’s the time is
a common reaction I get. But soon, people realise how pleasurable and
beneficial this routine can be. Not only does it improve their bodily
health, it also sends their self-esteem spiralling right upward."
That is the beauty of Ayurvedic healing: pleasure combined with an
emerging sense of responsibility of Self, followed by quick and
lasting health benefits.
As the perfect complement to this healthful routine, Dr Peterson
prescribes Amrit to his patients. Maharishi Ayurveda’s
anti-oxidant-rich herbal supplement, Amrit is a clinically researched
rejuvenant. People who take Amrit regularly, report fewer and
easier-to-treat colds and coughs. Their general resistance to disease
goes up, and with it, their happiness and energy-levels go up too.
"For me, the best part of prescribing Amrit to my patients is, I
don’t have to worry about any side-effects it might cause. It is a
completely safe, time-tested and highly effective formulation which
richly deserves its name—Amrit, or the nectar of vitality,"
says Dr Peterson.
NOTE: Information presented in this article is solely for the purpose
of imparting education on Ayurveda and is not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure or mitigate any disease.