Interview with Craniosacral Therapist Michael Brightwood

Michael BrightwoodI first met Michael when I attended his class on Craniosacral Therapy and energy healing, which I found fascinating. I had heard about other forms of energy healing before, but I didn’t know much about it. I was also able to have a session with Michael, which was enlightening to say the least. He was able to detect a soreness and pain in my right lower arm that I didn’t even know I had, which he said resulted from carrying a heavy purse on my right shoulder and working on a computer (he was correct.) He also detected that I had adrenal fatigue, which apparently affects a lot of people these days. He was right on. I hadn’t told him about this, but I constantly feel like I have some obligation, a never-ending to do list forming in my brain. I was already feeling stressed that day (as usual,) but I tried my best to hide it. Well, I couldn’t. Right off the bat, my stress was the first thing he noticed. By the middle of the session, I began to feel calmer and, amazingly, the soreness in my arm began to subside. It’s hard to explain in words what this healing feels like, but below, you will hear straight from Michael what Craniosacral Therapy is all about and how it works. I learned so much from Michael during the class and our session. I hope you enjoy the interview on this intriguing topic.

Kate Anas: What is your background in health and wellness? How did you get interested in these subjects?

Michael Brightwood: My father was the White House physician for President Truman and his family. I remember the pride he took in being able to serve the president and his family. I thought that I too would become a doctor but, by the time college came around in the late ’60s, I had other priorities. I had already learned how to give massages so that I could trade and receive them after hurting myself on a trampoline. I pursued alternative health care interests including Shiatsu and sports massage as an avocation for many years and then seasonally in my 30’s. When I decided to go full-time into health care, I received two graduate diplomas in counseling. I tried integrating body work and counseling, but I just couldn’t get it right.

KA: When did you first learn about Craniosacral Therapy and what drew you to it?

MB:  It was during my years as a counselor that I developed Bell’s Palsy, an impingement of the nerve that supplies the muscles of the face. I looked like I’d had a stroke. My acupuncturist referred me to a biodynamic craniosacral therapist who cleared it up in one session. Having been a person who loved deep massage, to be so affected by what seemed like a “laying on of hands” was transformational for me. By Grace or Karma I was living in Devon, England where the world premier developer of this approach lived and taught. I enrolled in his school the very next year.

KA: Tell us about Craniosacral Therapy and its benefits.

MB: Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy works holistically with the three components of the mind-body-spirit matrix. It is a light touch technology that facilitates the body’s own self-healing response. Trained craniosacral practitioners can work with many kinds of physical issues, even long-term chronic or persistent pain. Likewise, restriction in motion can be resolved so there is less pain and more mobility. The practitioners can also help facilitate the resolution of emotional issues by facilitating a balance in the structures in the brain that generate limbic (emotional) responses.

The biochemistry produced by a limbic activation affects emotional and stress responses. A patient will experience feeling calmer, lighter and less burdened. In biodynamic craniosacral work, there is also the possibility that a patient can access a perspective of life, different from that experienced in going about normal activities. A fully trained practitioner can also assess certain aspects of the central nervous system, thyroid, liver, pancreas, spleen, stomach, adrenal glands and the pelvic bowl relative to overall health.

KA: How does Craniosacral Therapy differ from traditional western medicine?

MB: Craniosacral therapy originated in the osteopathic tradition. There is still a branch of craniosacral therapy originating from the Upledger Institute that uses cranial-osteopathic techniques. This approach differs from Western medicine in that it uses very light physical manipulations to effect change in the body as opposed to chemical medicines or surgical operations. Biodynamic craniosacral is more of an energy medicine. We use quantum field dynamics, the bio-electric field of the human system and fluctuations in the fluidic field of the human body. We encourage, engage and facilitate the body’s own self-correcting mechanisms with little or no actual physical manipulations.

KA: Tell us about some experiences you’ve had with this therapy and how your patients have responded to it.

MB: At Rancho la Puerta, I usually see guests just one time. Occasionally people will come back for a second and third visit during the week. About 70% of the people can tell that at least something beneficial has happened. For another 20%, it takes until the next day; but most people report either less pain, more mobility or a sense of emotional ‘lightness’ depending on why they came in. In my private practice, I encourage people to give me three chances for them to notice a change, because there are a number of factors that might limit one’s ability to notice change: 1) Their system is depleted, tired or stressed. 2) Their body awareness is constrained. 3) The shift was so slight that it might not be noticeable.

KA: How is energy medicine being used to help ailments today?

MB: There are many energy medicine modalities. Acupuncture, Reiki, sound therapy, color therapy, Shiatsu, and craniosacral therapy are all in the category of energy medicine. X-Rays and radiation therapy are also kinds of energy medicine. Even the purring of cats near healing bones has shown a quickening of the healing process. Most common modern ailments will respond to energy medicine of one kind or another.

KA: What can a guest expect in a Craniosacral Therapy session with you?

MB: Less pain, more ease of mobility, less stress, less burdened by emotional issues are many of the most common responses to one session. The guest can also see if they respond to the approach to health. I can then refer them to a practitioner near where they live. What can someone do in their daily life to enhance the healing they receive from Craniosacral Therapy? Reduce Stress through meditation and/or diaphragmatic (yogic) breathing, Yoga, laughing or taking a walk in bare feet.

KA: Where do you see energy healing heading in the near future?

MB: Non radiation energy medicine is only about 1% of current health care in the U.S. In Europe it has more of a presence. I feel it is at the cutting edge of what will be more accepted and more widely used in the future. The use of laboratory medications has it’s limitations. It’s interesting to listen to the list of side effects on medicines advertised on TV. It’s not uncommon for one of the last in a long, quickly spoken list to have ‘death’ as a side effect. In the U.S., 100,000 people die each year from the proper medication given for the proper diagnosis, in the proper dosage. As far as I know no one has died from a craniosacral therapy session. I have helped scores of people avoid surgery for pain. I know of hundreds of returning Veterans with PTSD who have been helped by craniosacral therapy. In some counties in Europe, craniosacral therapy is part of their national health program. Acupuncture and Shiatsu have thousands of years of clinical usage. If and when the American Medical Association is removed from ‘road-blocking’ complementary medicine, there will a chance to utilize non-invasive, non-harmful approaches to health. In the near future, it will be a hard slog.

KA: Any last words about health, wellness and Craniosacral Therapy?

MB: There are many integrative medical doctors who have learned about treatment outside of pills for symptoms. Many of them refer patients to complementary health care. They acknowledge the body-mind-spirit unity of the human condition. As more and more people accept that there are many pathways to health, just as there are many roads to disease, there will be an increased demand for complementary health care that includes craniosacral therapy and other energy medicine modalities.

KA: What’s the best way for our readers to contact you?

MB: My email is michael.brightwood@gmail.com.

KA: How can our guests make an appointment with you at the Ranch?

MB: While at Rancho la Puerta, you can dial either 625 or 640 from any Ranch phone. In advance, people may call the health centers or the concierge directly.

KA: Thank you so much for your time, Michael. And for sharing your expertise with our readers!

Interview with Nutritionist Daniel Fenyvesi

dan 250Meet Daniel Fenyvesi.  You may have seen him if you’ve been at the Ranch recently as he’s been key in developing our new weight loss program, A Lighter You.  Daniel has  quite a background in nutrition having worked in weight loss programs across Latin America, Oakland and San Diego also developed our Pure & Simple breakfast and lunch options that are gluten, soy and dairy free.  He was kind enough to grant us an interview about the new program, what constitutes a healthy diet and his background in nutrition.

Kate Bello: How did you get interested in diet and nutrition?

Daniel Fenyvesi: My mom is from France, my father is from Hungary. I grew up eating food that was different from everyone I knew. My dad was always an avid gardener so we ate many meals straight from the garden. This was in the era (80s) before gourmets discovered organic and local (gourmet was focused on imported foods from Italy, France, etc…) so what we were doing was not all trendy or popular.

KB: What is your background in implementing weight management programs at various locations around the world?

DF:  I worked on weight loss programs in Oakland at La Clinica De La Raza, in San Deigo with Wellspring weight loss camps, in my own private practice and in volunteer settings in Latin America. I also started a weight loss program for Rancho’s Mexican staff, which is still running.

KB: How has your own weight loss affected your view on losing weight?

DF: I would never have been interested in this specialty had it not been for my own struggles with weight, just knowing what a challenge it was for me personally helps me understand the obstacles my clients face.

KB:  Why do you think most people have a hard time losing weight and keeping it off?

DF:  The answer varies from person to person, everyone faces different obstacles though there are some common threads: time pressures, stress, and a lack of a consistent scientifically/nutritionally sound long term plan.

KB:  What is the number one mistake most people make when trying to diet?

DF:  I see many people who are attracted to very intense weight loss regimes, some of them are dangerous fad diets and others are very healthy but impossible to sustain long term. In both cases the result can be a cycle of deprivation and weight loss which is followed by an equally intense cycle of backsliding/indulgence/weight gain.

KB:  Tell us about the new weight loss program at the Ranch, A Lighter You.

DF:  We offer an easy way to kick start a long term weight loss journey. Each client gets two private consults, several more informal check-ins, and two weeks of follow up (via email/phone). The focus is on the individual, my desire is to understand as much as possible about each person’s life, schedule, interests, and obstacles. I tailor solutions that are manageable and will result in long term weight loss.

KB:  Why have we implemented green juices instead of smoothies as our afternoon snack? What kind of health benefits do green juices have?

DF:  When I was studying the diets of ranch guests I realized they were eating plenty of fruit (there is fruit available as snacks, in the lounges, saloons etc…), most were eating between 200-400 calories a day in fruit so it was nutritionally redundant to offer a fruit smoothie that was at least another 150-250 calories. On the other hand vegetable juice has about 1/5 the calories – it makes the blood more alkaline, is full of electrolytes, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and a host of vitamins and minerals.

KB:  Tell us about some of the changes A Lighter You has inspired for our breakfast and lunch menus.

DF:  We debuted on Feb 16th a new menu for one side of the dining hall. The breakfast menu features more of a Mexican flavor. We have fresh, handmade corn tortillas, lots of vegetables, salsas and delicious beans. The lunch menu is similar to our traditional spa menu, but is free of all the common allergens and is prepared without any added fats/oils.

KB:  How important is nutrition when it comes to losing weight vs just exercise?

DF:  For some lucky folks just exercise is enough but for most of us it is only part of the solution. Nutrition is about making a caloric budget that is both nourishing and supports your weight loss goals.

KB:  Have you learned any weight loss or health tips from your travels to different countries?

DF:  I have spent a great deal of time volunteering in Nicaragua and I love the relaxed pace of meals there, no one reads, watches TV or uses a computer during meals. Meals are an important time to socialize. I also learned from that culture that one can thrive on, and even learn to enjoy, a very simple diet.

KB:  What are a couple of things people can start doing today to reach a healthier weight?

DF:  Keep a dietary journal, its the one practice that, no matter the diet you choose, has been shown to help everyone that does it.

KB:  How can our readers learn more about A Lighter You?

DF:  Check our website for our new program description, come to my lectures on Sundays and I am also always available by email to answer any questions: alighteryou@rancholapuerta.com

Thanks so much Dan!

Interview with Writer Lawrence Grobel

Lawrence Grobel, Larry GrobelFor all of you aspiring writers out there, you don’t want to miss Lawrence Grobel at the Ranch the weeks of April 13th and September 21st for his Memoir Workshop & Lecture.  Lawrence Grobel is the author of 18 books and countless interviews with A-list celebrities such as Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, the Houstons and Barbara Streisand.  He has been featured in Esquire, GQ and, most famously, in his Playboy interviews.  I was honored to have the chance to interview Lawrence about where his passion for writing comes from, his career and how a writer can navigate the publishing world today.

Kate Bello: When did you first become interested in writing?

Lawrence Grobel: I was 15 when I discovered the very real benefits from writing. Newsday, our Long Island newspaper, sponsored a contest open to all high school students—each month for 8 months they chose a topic that would be judged by professors from Hofstra and C.W. Post Universities and a Newsday editor. The first topic was “America’s Three Greatest Presidents.”  I won that one, and my essay was published in Newsday along with my photo and small bio. I won a watch (which I still have!) and a trip to Washington D.C. where I got to meet Robert Kennedy (the Attorney General at the time) in his office, and my New York Senators, the head of the FBI and some other notables.  All of this for writing 600 words about some Presidents. If writing could garner that much attention, it certainly seemed worth pursuing.

KB: Describe the moment you realized that you wanted to be a writer.

LG: I think I just answered that above. I became the editor of my high school newspaper after that contest, then I wrote some poems that got published in a national magazine, then I wrote a weekly column for my college newspaper (UCLA) and edited the campus humor magazine for three years. And when my freshman English professor agreed to let me try to write a novel instead of writing the assigned papers, I felt that this was what I was supposed to be doing. I’ve never looked back.

KB: You’re known for your interviews, but what were your aspirations when you first entered the world of writing?

LG: I wanted to be a novelist. The writers that most inspired me were James Joyce, J.P. Donleavy, Norman Mailer, Franz Kafka, J.D. Salinger, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. And thanks to Amazon’s White Glove Program for writers, I’ve been able to self-publish two of my novels recently, Catch a Fallen Star, and Begin Again Finnegan.  Both deal with actors and family life, but in very different ways.

KB: How did you land your first interview?

LG: I was writing articles for Newsday when I decided to move to Los Angeles just to write novels. And my Newsday editor called and asked if I would interview Mae West for them. I did, and then he asked if I would interview other celebrities. I wound up talking to Jane Fonda, Cher, Lucille Ball, Ray Bradbury, Henry Moore, Hugh Hefner and dozens of others. Interviewing began to intrigue me, and I wanted to take it to a deeper level, and that’s when I started writing for Playboy. That allowed me to spend weeks and months with people who rarely were willing to spend any time at all with strangers.  And some of these interviews have led to books with Marlon Brando, Truman Capote, James A. Michener, Al Pacino, Robert Evans, John Huston, and Montel Williams, as well as a book about the subject itself, The Art of the Interview.

KB: You’re known for interviewing A-list celebrities, everyone from Brando to Pacino to Streisand.  What was it like being part of these celebrities’ lives, getting to know them and seeing a side of them that we don’t normally see?

LG: This is too large a question to answer in brief. But I have answered how I became an interviewer and what it was like to start with Mae West and spend 9 months with Barbra Streisand and two weeks with Marlon Brando on his island in Tahiti in a memoir I put up on Amazon called You Show Me Yours.  The last two full chapters deal separately with Streisand and Brando.

KB: Which interview has been your favorite so far?

LG: Some of these interviews are like children—you spend so much time with certain people, they become favorites until you’re with the next one.  But I’d have to say the ones that turned into books are probably the ones that most fascinated me.

KB: You’ve written 18 books and have done countless interviews.  What are your goals today as a writer?

LG: My goals haven’t changed since I was 15. I just want to continue writing. Now that Amazon and the Internet have opened things up so you can bypass the years-long process of dealing with agents and publishers, I feel we’re entering a creative new world. Of course, there will be a lot of junk that is self-published, and it won’t be easy to get readers to find what I’ve written, but I believe that the work holds up and that over time people will start reading my novels, or the memoir, or the satire on yoga (The Book of Shmoga), or the collection of profiles (ICONS), or the 150 short poems about celebrities (Celebrity Salad). I guess you could say that my goal is to find an audience for what I’m writing so that I can continue writing for that audience.  I have another novel about Africa that I’m working on (I lived in Ghana for three years when I was in the Peace Corps).  I have a screenplay I want to write based on the Finnegan novel. I spoke at the Ranch once about the lessons I learned from interviewing, and a guest came up to me and suggested it would make a good book, and I’ve been working on that.  So the goal is to keep at it.

KB: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

LG: Clearing my desk, avoiding distractions, and just getting into the work. It sometimes takes a long time to do that. But once the story gets going, it’s just a mental challenge to keep it moving, make it interesting, and keep ‘em guessing.

KB: Because the publishing world is so different than it was even 20 years ago, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

LG: My advice is to look into doing what I’m currently doing: self-publishing. It’s extremely difficult to earn a living as a freelance writer these days. I did it, but I don’t think I could do it if I was starting out now. So many magazines that I’ve worked for have folded, or gone on-line; so many editors aren’t using freelancers, or when they are they are paying them much less than what I was paid.  But that shouldn’t discourage real writers. Because now you can get a job teaching or in insurance or as a yoga instructor or driving a UPS truck—and write in your off hours. You can self-publish what you’ve written when you feel it’s ready. And then start asking your social network friends to help you find an audience. Good work will rise. It just takes time and a strong belief in yourself.

KB: I took one of your Memoir Writing Workshops at the Ranch last year, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  You spoke quite a bit about keeping a journal, and I’ve been writing daily in mine ever since.  Why is writing daily in a journal such an important piece of the writing process?

LG: It’s like anything else. You can’t be a good musician if you don’t practice. You can’t be a good athlete if you don’t work hard at it. You can’t sing like Pavarotti or Nora Jones if you aren’t working hard with your teachers.  Writing is really RE-writing. You sharpen your pencils, you make your outlines, you figure out your storyline, and then you discover that your characters start saying things you never intended, and you go with them… and it’s such a thrill.  But then you put it away and go back to it and you see if it makes sense. And you rework it. You show it to people you trust. You develop a thick skin because you will absolutely need it if you want to survive being a writer. If you keep a journal you are forcing yourself to write every day. You will put down things you will forget about a year from now. And three years later you will walk somewhere and be reminded of something back in time and you will go to your journal and there will be some details that may spark a new story. Truman Capote told me he wrote all the pieces in Music for Chameleons from his journal. Joyce Carol Oates showed me the details to many of her novels from her journals.  It’s a practice well worth doing.

KB: You will be back at the Ranch in April and September of 2013 with your Memoir Workshop & Lecture.  Can you tell our readers what they can expect from your workshop?

LG: I just try to introduce people to the immediate benefits from writing something personal. There isn’t enough time to cover the art of the memoir in three one-hour meetings at the Ranch, but there is enough time to demonstrate how much one is capable of producing in a short time. And if you can take that away with you and multiply it by weeks and months, you might be inspired to continue to write. If you can learn to write just 300 words a day, you will have a hundred-thousand word manuscript in a year.  William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is only 60,000 words. He said it was his favorite novel. And he wrote it in six weeks. The Ranch is a place where you go to be inspired.  I just try to stimulate one’s imagination.

KB: Thanks so much Larry!  We look forward to seeing you at the Ranch this year!

To learn more about Larry, you can visit his website at www.lawrencegrobel.com.   You can find the books Larry mentions in this interview here.

Interview with with Literary Agent, Joëlle Delbourgo

joelle-delbourgo-alt

I feel so honored to have been able to meet Joëlle Delbourgo at the Ranch this past year during my favorite week so far, Rancho Reads and Writes. The classes that week were such an enlightening experience.  And not just for learning to write better, but also the business that goes along with writing; what publishers are looking for, new exciting genres and what makes a great book.  That’s where Joëlle comes in– she has a wealth of information regarding  the publishing world.  For all of you aspiring writers, take note of the treasures ahead.  And for those of you interested in attending the next Rancho Reads and Writes, stay tuned for upcoming dates!

Kate Bello: First of all, thank you for taking the time to do this interview.  I have to say I had the best time attending the writing classes you taught along with Sam Barry and Leslie Levine.  That week absolutely changed my view on writing, so thank you for that! You have a tremendous amount of experience in the publishing world, having been a Senior Editorial Executive at HarperCollins and Random House and now the President and Founder of Joëlle Delbourgo Associates.  What got you interested in writing and editing in the first place?

Joëlle Delbourgo: I’ve had a love affair with words from an early age.  My mother taught me to read when I was little, so by the time I entered school, I was reading well above grade level and ended up skipping two grades.  I love the cadences of language.  I never aspired to be a writer, but I understood that my ear for language and logical mind could be a great asset to writers.  I could “hear” their voices (or those of their characters) and understand their intentions, sometimes even more clearly than they did.  So I chose instead to become a kind of midwife, muse and guide to writers.

KB: The publishing world has changed considerably in the last 20 years.  Based on your experience, what have been some of the pros and cons for authors trying to publish today as opposed to 20 years ago?JD: It certainly has.  Publishing is run in a much more business-like way today. Publishers are less likely to take a risk on an unproven talent.  So it is much, much more difficult to get published in the traditional sense.  But with change also comes opportunity.  The explosion of new kinds of publishers, including digitally-driven houses and self-publishing is also opening doors for writers.KB: How does Joëlle Delbourgo Associates help authors publish books as well as market their books via social media?

JD: Both my colleague and fellow agent, Jacqueline Flynn, and I come from a publishing background.  We continue to think like editors and publishers and help our authors to position and market their books.  We even offer an increasingly broad array of services, separate from the agency side of our business,  such as editing and tailored courses in social media marketing for authors. We are here to advocate, advise, and champion every step of the way from conception through the life of the book.

KB: What is the most common mistake you see new authors make when submitting their query letters and manuscripts to your company?

JD: The most common mistake is that authors don’t always take time to do their homework in researching a prospective agency and customizing their query letters in accordance with the submission guidelines.  The second most common mistake is not taking the time to craft a really well-written letter.  The query letter is all-important. You have one shot.

KB: Which genres of fiction and non-fiction are you most excited about currently?

JD: I personally love narrative nonfiction, that is nonfiction that employs the techniques of great fiction writing to tell a story, except that the story is true or at least grounded in fact.  I’m also intrigued by the explosion of quality young adult and middle grade books, and particularly in books that bridge young adult and adult; some publishers call these books “new adult.”

KB:  Who are some of your favorite authors at the moment?

JD:  There are so many authors I admire from Philip Roth to Margaret Atwood and Nicole Krauss.  But I’m less slavishly a fan of particular authors and more drawn to particular books.  Some great ones I’ve read recently are Ernest Gaines’ A LESSON IN DYING, which is a classic, but I’d never read it before, Katherine Boo’s BEYOND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS and Julian Barnes’ THE SENSE OF AN ENDING.

KB:  Is self-publishing a viable option for authors today, or is it still best to go through a publishing house?

JD:  It depends on what your goal is.  I’m prejudiced in favor of traditional publishing. A good publisher brings so much to the table in terms of shaping, positioning, packaging and marketing a book.  Most people who work for these publishers are tremendously good at their jobs.  But self-publishing is a good fallback for authors who can’t get published by a traditional house, and also great for getting something very timely out quickly.  It’s a living laboratory and allows for a lot of experimentation.  If a writer can self-publish well and find an audience, that writer may have a much better chance of drawing attention of a publishing house.  But it can also backfire.  If you self-publish and your book sells poorly, that works against you.

KB:  What is your advice for authors trying to publish their first novel or non-fiction book?

JD:  Write the absolute best book you can. Try to find a reputable agent with whom you have a strong connection and trust.

KB:  What is your view on the new digital era of publishing?

JD:  I’m fascinated by it.  I believe that I will personally always favor a beautifully produced printed book, but digital publishing offers extraordinary advantages to readers.

KB:  At Joëlle Delbourgo Associates, you cover everything from editing to publishing to marketing.  What is your favorite part of the process?

JD:  Hard to say.  I love discovering talent. But I also never tire of feeling the excitement when that finished book, hot off the presses, lands on my desk.

KB:  Can you give us an example of an author that you recently worked with whose work immediately caught your eye and why?

JD:  I just sold a debut novel by a young woman named Lindsey Palmer in a 2-book deal to Kensington Publishing.  It’s a sharp satire of the world of women’s magazines and what happens when a highly respected editor-in-chief is replaced by an editor from the tabloid world.  The novel is related from different points-of-view:  the art director, the editorial assistant, the managing editor, and so on.  It’s hilarious but also has great characters and a lot of heart.  I knew when I read the query letter that it could be very commercial. Lindsey Palmer has worked at several women’s magazines and really knows this world.  She is a terrific, polished writer, and her query letter reflected that.  The novel really delivers.  I was excited that Kensington was willing to invest not only in this novel but in a second one that is still in the process of being written. This shows that they are committing to an author, not just to a book. And the author has great media connections, so we should have a field day promoting it.

KB:  In your opinion, what is that one thing that makes a great book or novel?

JD:  There is no “one” thing: it can be the originality of the premise, the distinctiveness and quality of the prose, the indelible characters, the palpable sense of place, the ability to keep the narrative moving through a great plot and an ability to maintain tension.  Ideally, it is all of the above.  But the key is to capture the reader’s attention right away and for the reader to identify and care for your characters.  Without an investment from the reader, you have nothing.

KB:  Any last words about the writing and publishing world you would like to share with our readers?

JD:  Hone your craft.  Do your research about the process.  Write with a specific reader in mind (it can be an audience of one or millions, but be realistic and know who you are writing for.)  Respect the professionals who may be able to help you along the way.  And good luck!

Thank you Joëlle!

Interview with the Ranch’s Ayurvedic Practioner, Carla Levy

DSCN1863Recently I wrote a blog post about my consultation with our resident Ayurvedic practitioner, Carla Levy.  It was such an enlightening experience and gave me some great insight into my own health.  You can read the post here.  Carla was sweet enough to let me interview her as well about the many benefits of Ayurveda, how it’s helped her clients and how it’s changed her own life.

Kate Bello: For those who don’t know what Ayurveda is, how would you explain it in its most basic form?

Carla Levy: Ayurveda has been practiced for over 5000 years and is said to be the oldest healing system in the world. Ayurveda means the “science of life” and it embodies and conveys the deep knowledge given to us by the ancient rishis (sages) of India. It is based on a profound understanding of nature and the elements that nature encompasses: ether, air, fire, water and earth. By understanding how we are a part of nature and how its elements coexist within us, we come to understand our own true nature.

A state of health and balance is our natural state. The practice of Ayurveda creates the optimal environment where the body is able to heal itself of disease and imbalances. Through knowledge of the principles of Ayurveda, you will be empowered to take charge of your own health. You will understand your unique constitution and achieve the skills to know how to create and maintain balance and therefore health in your life.

KB: How does Ayurveda work?

CL: Ayurveda is truly a holistic healing system working on body, mind and spirit. It works differently from western medicine, which tends to focus on the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Ayurveda, although compatible with western medicine, focuses on prevention, healing and maintaining health by achieving balance. Instead of simply treating the symptoms, the system of Ayurveda can both prevent and treat disease by eradicating it at its roots before it has a chance to manifest.  Each one of us has a unique balance called our prakruti. Your prakruti was established at the moment of your conception and will never change. During a thorough examination, I will assess your prakruti and also determine your vikruti. Your vikruti is your constitution at the present time and it will show where you have strayed from your natural balance. Together we will create a plan, which will address body, mind and spirit to bring you back in to balance, your own prakruti . When you are in balance with your own true nature disease cannot penetrate. Healing modalities will include a food program, customized herbal formulas, and lifestyle adjustments. Further suggestions may include asana, pranayama and meditation practices as well as other subtle therapies including sound, color and aromatherapy. I  support, educate and guide people on their road to health

KB: How old is Ayurveda and what’s been its history in medicine? When did you first get interested in practicing Ayurveda and what was your path to teaching others about it?

CL: I have been an Iyengar Yoga instructor for thirty years. Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga. They both originated from the Vedas which are  considered by many the oldest books on the planet! When I started studying Ayurveda I fell in love with it. Ayurveda makes so much sense. It is truly intuitive knowledge.

The aim of Yoga and Ayurveda is the same, to connect to your own true nature as spirit. Ayurveda works to heal the physical body and Yoga is the spiritual side of Ayurveda. Yoga and Ayurveda compliment, support and strengthen the practice of each other.

KB: What are some examples of how Ayurveda has changed the lives of some of your patients?

CL: The disease process starts in the mind and the digestive system. So many people are suffering from digestive disorders and many don’t even recognize this. If imbalance is not treated here, it will spread into other bodily tissues. People become confused about what is the right thing for them to eat. We really have”trendy” foods in this country. Certain foods go in and out of popularity. So many people tell me they are not eating this or that and I ask them why. Their reply quite often is, “I heard it’s not good for you.”

“One mans medicine is another mans poison” is a famous Ayurvedic saying. Ayurveda makes it clear what is good for you to eat. We also look closely at people’s eating habits and have wonderful herbs to help people with digestive problems.  Ayurveda teaches us to love and care for ourselves and gives us specific practices for this. These practices are the path to healing and balancing the mind.

KB: How does someone figure out what their doshas are? As well as their Prakruti and Vikruti?

CL: Your doshas are the same thing as your prakruti and vikruti.  To figure out what your Prakruti and Vikruti are one needs to see a qualified practitioner. This is not something  one can figure out on their own. Find a practitioner that has had at least several years of schooling in Ayurveda. You can check the National Ayurvedic Medical Association for their list of certified practitioners. http://ayurvedanama.org/

KB: How has Ayurveda helped you in your own life? 

CL: Ayurveda has completely changed my life. Ayurveda is a way of life! I live life with the knowledge of my nature. When I go out of balance it is easy for me to see the cause and know how to get back into balance. I also pay close attention to nature around me and change my life to be in harmony with her. With each season we must make changes. Health is not only staying in balance with our own nature, but nature around us as well.

KB: Where can our readers get more information about Ayurveda and your practice?

CL: Feel free to contact me at ayurveda@carlalevy.org. I also have some handouts including a great reading list on the Ranch website:www.rancholapuerta.com/handouts. Best of all, come to the Ranch, listen to my talks and have a consultation. May all beings be happy and healthy!