Emotional healing

Recently, someone I know had an emergency gallbladder operation. He said he didn’t notice any symptoms before the day he was hospitalised, although he’s quite a health-conscious person in many ways. His gallbladder was removed, as well as part of the liver, and he is recovering well. The real healing will need to involve more than just the body though.

When people fall ill, we are usually preoccupied with the physical symptoms that show up before or during the illness because Western medicine tends to have us focus on the physical aspects of any health imbalance. Ayurveda takes a bigger view, observing and evaluating a person’s psychological, emotional and physical condition overall when considering their state of health.

If we become angry at our anger, we will have two angers at the same time. We only have to observe it with love and attention. If we take care of our anger in this way, without trying to run away from it, it will transform itself. This is peacemaking. If we are peaceful in ourselves, we can make peace with our anger. We can deal with depression, anxiety, fear, or any unpleasant feeling in the same way.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

The stomach, liver and gallbladder directly show how well Pitta dosha (the fire element in our body–quite literally, bile) is functioning in a person. Any dysfunction in these organs is considered a Pitta imbalance–either too much or not enough fire, physically and metaphorically.

Signs of a Pitta imbalance show up in lots of ways. Physically, if Pitta is too high there will be a lot of heat in the body, which is especially noticeable in the head and stomach areas, sometimes causing visible skin problems (acne, rosacea, psoriasis), or diarrhoea. The face will have a ruddy complexion, and the person won’t tolerate heat very well. There can also be inflammation of some sort—from migraines to joint pain—or the person can experience frequent infections of all kinds. Another way of describing this state is Rajasic, or overstimulated (see more about that here).

Low Pitta, whose physical symptoms might be seen in a sluggish, underperforming liver and gallbladder, will appear as poor assimilation of nutrients, gas and bloating, and constipation. The digestive fire of Pitta isn’t strong enough to do its job, and residual, undigested food (called ama in Sanskrit) clogs up the digestive tract and leads to leaky gut and other bowel conditions.

This will also show up as a thick white coating or even a yellowish or brownish coating on the tongue, although a light coating on the tongue is normal. This will especially be noticeable in the morning, along with bad breath as well as unpleasant body odour.

Paradoxically, the person with low Pitta can have acid reflux (GERD, commonly known as heartburn because the stomach acid is too weak to properly digest food causing the undigested matter to push the bile back up into the digestive tube near the heart). Lethargy, low self-esteem, unresolved or unexpressed anger, frustration, passive-aggression and resentment can show up in cases where Pitta is too low and not finding a healthy expression. This state can be described as Tamasic (more about that here).

I’ve never known a person with acid reflux who didn’t also have suppressed or unacknowledged anger issues. I experienced this myself when my children were small and I felt unsupported. I didn’t know how to ask for help, and was trying to soldier on without taking the time to assess what I needed. In fact, it didn’t occur to me that I had needs, as I was preoccupied with taking care of my kids and my husband while also looking after others as a yoga teacher and breastfeeding counsellor. When I could finally connect my feelings of anger with the irritation in my throat, I was able to release the frequent coughs and vague feeling of dissatisfaction that were undermining my wellbeing for months on end.

A Pitta imbalance?

The typical high-Pitta person will be what pop psychology describes as a ‘Type A’ personality, highly competitive and driven, a strong or over-bearing leader–someone who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Psychologically and emotionally, a high-Pitta person will be irritable, short-tempered, defensive, grumpy and snarky. Snide remarks and harsh criticisms, angry outbursts, combativeness and bullying are typical. Shutting people down instead of engaging in discussions around areas of disagreement is another indication that a person has too much Pitta.

Our emotional and psychological nature is intricately woven into our physical nature–we can even see a person’s emotional state in the way she carries her body. As holistic beings, we need to keep the whole picture of our lives in the frame in order to stay truly healthy.

The yogic and Ayurvedic lifestyles have built-in ways of balancing the doshas and keeping them in harmony as much as possible. I’ll write more about that another time. Meanwhile, this Virgo Full Moon is a good time to consider ways of taking care of yourself in every domain, and for your highest good.

Wishing you much love and light as ever,

A lot of people don’t understand how I work with Ayurveda, so I offer the above as an example. If I’ve done my job properly you eventually won’t need me anymore, as our work together is only half the story. Whether it be through yoga, Ayurveda, or hypnotherapy, these modalities require taking personal responsibility after our session and only you can control that. If you’re ready to make a lasting change in your health and well-being, then get in touch with me for a consultation.