Between mid-January and mid-July, 2004, I had been working very intensely in field of Ayurveda, both on a theoretical and a practical level. Most of my studies were at home, and the last six weeks were spent gaining practical knowledge in the USA. The intensity of the work was cushioned by the comforts of the home, though I did notice once or twice a mildly painful air trying to find a house in the region of the heart. During a period of rest, I would feel this air recede. In the USA, the shield of the home was gone and I was exposed fully to the strain, without family and comfort to fall back upon. To add to my woes, the difference in the structure of society as compared to India made me feel home-sick. During these six weeks, the “bad air” found housing in the region of the heart, and upon my return to India, I found that the mild pain in the heart was there more often, along with tension, and wouldn’t recede during times of rest. My lungs were congested too, and breathing was becoming a slight strain. I had put on lots of weight. It was my last chance to take permanent action.
My Ayurvedic analysis of the situation was as follows. Due to the strain (long hours of work, personal deadlines, abnormally long air-transits) and the many hours of sitting cross-legged, Apana Vayu had gotten blocked, and was now flowing partly upwards and not fully downwards. It had found an abnormal route of flow towards the heart in its effort to do Sthana Samashraya at the appropriate Kha Vaigunya. Why had the overflowing Vata Dosha identified the heart as Kha Vaigunya? The negative emotions absorbed by the heart are worry, sadness, anxiety and rejection. Yes, these emotions had been abounding since January, had been absorbed by the heart and the heart had become a Kha Vaigunya for an overflowing Dosha to do Sthana Samashraya in. But why the tension in the region of the heart and the difficult breathing? Well, the home-sickness had caused me to binge on cheese, cream, chocolate, chips and chilled beer for the six weeks in the USA, in a subconscious effort to increase Kapha intake to lessen the pangs of the home-sickness. Kapha Dosha had become aggravated and was overflowing into the lungs (difficulty in breathing). It was also being pushed into the heart region by the overflowing Vata Dosha (hence the tension due to clogging in the heart and the pushing of Vata).
Luckily, once awake from my slumber and upon realizing my health-follies, I was in a position to deal with the situation on a purely Ayurvedic level. Here is the strategy I devised to combat the situation, taking my large frame and constitution into consideration:
1). Arjunarishtha, 3 tablespoons taken with same quantity of water after lunch.
2). Dashamularishtha, 3 tablespoons taken with same quantity of water after breakfast and dinner.
3). Trikatu, one big pinch before each meal.
4). Masala Chai with ginger, Tulsi, cardamom, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, Trikatu, Vasa and Honey, two cups upon awaking in the mornings.
5). Trifala, three-fourths of a teaspoon boiled in water (1 cup), cooled to room temperature and drunk before sleeping.
6). Eyes washed with Trifala eye-wash daily for 2 weeks at a stretch. Here, 1 teaspoon of Trifala is boiled in water (1 cup), cooled to room temperature, sieved thoroughly, and the eyes are washed with this decoction, preferably in the morning.
7). Thorough increase in Pranayama and meditation, both of which had come to a standstill in the USA.
8). Lessening of work-load to 20% of prior exertion.
The reasoning for this strategy was quite simple. Arjuna is good for any problem of the heart. For Vata Dosha becoming lodged in the heart, Dashamula is recommended. I decided to have Dashamula twice a day till Vata receded sufficiently, after which I would phase it out and stick to Arjuna once a day for a couple of weeks. The Arishta (medicated wine) was the Anupana, made by adding yeast to the fresh juice of the herbs in question. Trikatu would increase Agni, get rid of Ama, and would also tackle the congestion in the lungs and the heart. After dealing with the heart, I thought to myself, I would discontinue the heart herbs and possibly continue with Talisadi Churna (decongestant) and Sitopaladi Churna (expectorant), if the heaviness in the lungs persisted. Meanwhile, I had strongly reduced my intake of fats. An added bonus was that Dashamularishtha would cause a mild distaste in the system towards alcohol, lessening the craving for chilled beer. The Trifala would give good motion in the mornings, regulating the normal flow of Apana Vayu and the proper absorption of Prana in the colon. The Trifala eye-wash would strengthen the eyes which were suffering from severe computer-strain, and would seep into the sinuses, spreading its anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects there. Then, meditation would increase Ojas, thereby giving the body immunity. Pranayama would burn Ama and speed up decongestion, adding to the effects of Trikatu. The lessened work load would give the system rest and allow it to settle.
Within three weeks of returning to India and commencing upon the above regimen, I had already lost three kilograms (6.6 pounds). Vata was flowing out of the heart towards the colon. Congestion was less. The tension in the heart was gone, and breathing was easier. Then I had a dream, in which a well-known heart-surgeon performed an operation upon me, during the course of which my heart was taken out and allowed to rest. Meanwhile, somehow I was kept alive. When the doctor was satisfied that the heart had rested sufficiently, and that its clogging had receded, he installed the heart back and said that I was free to go this time, but would not escape so easily from the effects of future binges. The message was pretty clear, and I understood.
I decided to continue with the above regimen for another two weeks and then to phase it out slowly, but would carry on with the Pranayama and the meditation as regularly as possible.