By Felicia M. Tomasko
Originally Posted in LA Yoga Magazine
Chiropractor, Ayurvedic physician, author of four books and father, John Douillard has been practicing Ayurveda full-time for 20 years; the practice influences his entire life.
He says, “You can’t do this every day and not get it.” Dr. Douillard has plenty of opportunities to incorporate Ayurvedic remedies and routines in his daily life, since he and Ginger, his wife of 20 years, have six children, ranging in age from three to eighteen. He attributes the closeness of his family and success of his marriage to Ayurveda.
John’s mother inspired his journey as a seeker; for his seventeenth birthday, she registered him for a course in Transcendental Meditation. He continues the journey of discovering his souls and his capacity for unconditional love, through Ayurveda.
Felicia: What inspired you to study Ayurveda?
John: The connection that Ayurveda makes from the symptom all the way to the soul. It relates to how we can take the physiological complaint of an individual and take that from the physical, to the mental, to the emotional and ultimately the spiritual. At the end of the process, the person expresses their true self.
Felicia: You’re licensed as a chiropractor. How do you combine chiropractic care with Ayurveda?
John: When I was in India one time, I was lucky to speak at a convention of Ayurvedic doctors. I spoke about chiropractic care and natural medicines from the West. One of the doctors asked me to come back to his room for a cup of Ayurvedic coffee that almost killed me. He showed me pictures of Ayurvedic doctors doing chiropractic adjustments.
He looked at me and said, “The knowledge you have is Vedic, it’s been around for thousands of years.” Two months later, a number of Ayurvedic chiropractors showed up and I got to work with them.
There’s no question that the stress that we’re under in our lives produce a compromised blood supply. That compromise in blood supply does two things. One, it compromises or deranges the rasa dhatu [plasma and fluid] and, for example, the lymphatic flow becomes compromised. When you can’t move waste out of your muscles, joints, tissues, organs and intestinal tract, then that waste flows into the blood.
Eventually, your body starts to build fibrous tissue. And sometimes you need to mechanically break that up using certain manipulative or soft tissue techniques which fall under the realm of chiropractic.
It is an asset to be able to take someone when they’re going through pancha karma [Ayurvedic cleansing techniques] and unravel their stress. Through these techniques, you can help them with their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual blocks, get rid of some old chronic tension and at the same time begin to help them heal the long-standing chronic constipation, arthritic changes, anxiety or depression. At the same time it gives them access to who they really are and lets that powerful, more real part of themselves express itself. That’s the whole package of Ayurveda.
If you asked me “What is Ayurveda” I’d say, it’s all about letting who you are out. That’s the goal.
We create protective blocks in our physiology, in our mind and in our emotions that actually compromise our ability to be ourselves. We create this illusion of reality based on fear and survival. Ayurveda is all about unraveling the physical density and letting the soul of you express itself.
Felicia: You’ve written four books now: Body, Mind and Sport; The Three-Season Diet; Perfect Health for Kids and the Encyclopedia of Ayurvedic Massage.The topics seem to evolve with you personal life. Will you speak about what was going on in your life when you wrote, Body, Mind and Sport?
John: In Body, Mind and Sport, I wanted to bring a level of consciousness into athletics and give the athletic world a glimpse of what it was like to not only do less and accomplish more, but give them a glimpse of what it was lik to possibly do nothing and accomplish everything.
When Roger Bannister broke the four-minute-mile, he said, “I felt like I was going slowly. I felt no pain, I felt no strain, I was running faster than any man alive, but I felt like the world was standing still.” He felt no pain, no strain, and it was an experience of this incredible performance with no stress.
So, my goal was to answer the question: How do we get to the place in our lives where we can be dynamic and active, doing all that we want to accomplish in the world and yet be at peace and be calm in the midst of all that crazy, dynamic stress?
Felicia: Talk a bit about The Three Season Diet.
John: I was getting very frustrated with the new American way to eat, grazing and eating little meals all day long.
In my life, I was becoming interested in how to unravel the deep molecules of emotion stored in our fat cells. You have to burn fat throughout the day to remove the underlying pattern of behavior of the mental molecules of emotion that are in our fat cells. these stuck molecules drive us to the same dumb thing over and over again. If we are under stress and experiencing life an an emergency, we store fat and put the toxic emotions, environmental chemicals and pollutants in those fat cells. They just sit there waiting to be convinced by the body that the war is over.
eating little meals all day long was driving me crazy because the fat cells stay toxic. That’s what’s happening to Americans; they’re becoming more and more toxic, but they look really good, at least some of them do.
But actually the body becomes so stressed; it can’t not store the fat. And then people become fat, overweight, depressed and anxious.
At that time, I was feeling compelled to burn my own molecules of emotion and beginning to really access deeper parts of myself.
Every time I do pancha karma, and I settle down my nervous system, I began to experience what patters of behavior are keeping me from being more of myself, more able to love my family and love my wife unconditionally, without any restrictions.
Until you relieve the physiological stress, and dense physical, mental and emotional patters that weigh us down, it’s difficult to make real spiritual progress. Real spiritual progress is when you unravel the underlying fears that keep you from being as powerful, as loving and as unlimited as you could be.
Felicia: Moving on to Perfect Health for Kids…
John: Perfect Health for Kids was written four one reason. I realized as parents, we have an opportunity to create either a balance mental and emotional environment for our kids’ spiritual process to develop, or an imbalanced one.
When children are young, they start to develop a personality. Children realize in preschool that other kids, or other people aren’t really very nice. Kids employ their minds at a very young age to protect themselves and create a personality that kinda-sorta works.
As kids we start to create this personality based on a protective illusion created by the mind to make sure we never get hurt. Those mental patterns of behavior impact the pranamayakosha, energetics of the body.And that prana is supposed to move the subtle energy of the body, the nadi system, and activate the chakras [energy centers]. But if the mind’s got a stranglehold on the prana, and the prana can’t move, the nadis and chakras never activate and you never change the old patterns of behavior in the mind.
That lack of prana begins to affect the physical body, creating imbalance. years of these patters of behavior, being addicted to this personality that kinda-sorta works, create patterns of subtle energy that compromise the ability of kids to be who they really are on this planet.
The more connected kids are when they’re young, when they grow and engage in a spiritual process, the more likely they’re going to have access to themselves and the connection of truth between the hearts of their parents and the hearts of themselves. When we establish that relationship with our kids, we never lose that truth.
I wrote that book to teach parents how to raise their kids in a balanced mental, emotional and spiritual state, to give them access to who they are, support them in activities that they’re good at and develop kids who will hopefully change the world and make it a better place. As parents, that’s our responsibility.
Felicia: Talk about your most recent book, The Encyclopedia of Ayurvedic Massage.
John: I realized that by doing some of the Ayurvedic massage techniques, or pancha karma therapies, which are designed to disarm the protective nervous system, you come up against the underlying fears and survival techniques you’ve used in your life.
I became aware of how valuable the Ayurvedic treatments are. They aren’t just a physical detox, they unravel the physical density, protective patterns of behavior and molecules of emotion, letting who you are be expressed and letting yourself experience true love for the first time in your life.
Around that time, I experienced true love for the first time in my life. It means being able to look at someone like your family or your spouse, and tell them you love them so deeply and so truly and so unconditionally that you’ve experienced what I call the vulnerability of true love.
And you begin to realize in your life, that what you really seek is not for the person to love you back, but for you to have the permission to love them fully.
John: I have people do this exercise now. they write a love letter to someone with whom they feel secure in their love. No one will ever read the letter. And I ask them: Did you feel loved when you wrote the letter? And they say, Yeah. Did you feel secure when you wrote that letter? Yeah. Did you feel appreciated? Did you feel like you were being loved by someone else? And they say, absolutely.
And they begin to realize that what we really seek is not for someone to love us, what we really seek is to give ourselves permission to actually love others without the conditions that they have to love us back. The reality is, they will never love us back the way that we think we should be loved.
We have a window of how we think we should be loved and we are always disappointed, aren’t we?
John: You become addicted to this return on investment. But when you begin to experience true love for the first time, you have to take the risk of letting yourself love someone so fully that you are that vulnerable.
In the Upanishads it says that pain and fear are directly across from your consciousness, from your bliss. The pain and fear get your attention, so you can go through it and establish yourself in an experience of your deep self.
And we can begin to understand how to live on the planet without feeling so constricted, without needing someone to really love you and getting hurt when they don’t, and reacting and throwing pots and pans or feeling hurt or dropping bombs on people, I mean it escalates to real severe deficiencies because we feel we need to be treated in a certain way.
And that causes patterns of behavior that unfortunately have disturbed the world.
That’s a little more than you asked for, I guess.
Felicia: Accessing true love and bringing down defenses, do you feel that happens through hands-on Ayurvedic practices?
John: It’s what they were designed to do. We still sometimes misinterpret pancha karma as a physical detox technique. It has been proven to detoxify 14 of the major cancer-causing fat soluble heavy metals and environmental toxins that store in our fat cells for 2.9 months after you finish therapies.
There is more. We take people through a process of self-inquiry. And that is what Ayurvedic medicine is all about. When you unwrap the molecules of emotion physically through pancha karma and you pry them open with self-inquiry and journaling and yoga, breathing and meditation, and special diet, this unwraps the physical density. It settles our awareness and makes our own internal lake so crystal clear that we can now see our patterns of behavior. We use self-inquiry to uncover these stones of protection that keep us locked in those same patterns of behavior.
Now, all of a sudden, you’ve created a mind-body experience that is nothing less that transformational.