Why AM I an Ayurvedic Health-Care Professional and What Drives Me?
“Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and less candy so you will be smart and grow up to be strong and beautiful, Carmelita.” I still hear my Uncle Julio’s words to me on my 5th birthday, and remember the love with which he spoke them. Perhaps it was my struggle in learning English as my second language, or maybe my self-consciousness about what I thought were my big ears that I hid behind my hair that made me take his comment to heart, but from that point on, I became a health nut. I read labels, requested fresh juices rather than soda pop, limited my consumption of tortillas, and asked for extra veggies. I can’t say whether eating healthier helped me learn English faster or made me feel prettier, but it awakened in me a deep desire to be healthy. That desire never lessened; it deepened, and became a part of my life. I turned into an avid student of all things healthy and was known as the “wellness guru” to my friends and family.
My first encounter with Ayurveda began while my mother was seriously ill. In time, it became evident that she was suffering from the side effects of her medications. I researched her disease and the drugs she was taking. The side effects were gradually increasing and taking over her mind and she was becoming imbalanced in critical ways. Her doctor’s advice? More meds! The family gathered for a meeting and the decision was made to follow an alternative route. As the child most interested in and aware of health matters, it fell to me to research various forms of alternative healing. I began to investigate various means of alternative healing, which ran contrary to the standard approach of Western medicine, which was to “dope ‘em up.”
Through the principles of Ayurveda, we started off with a gentle detox, then added a nutrient-rich diet customized for her specific body type, thus beginning her return to wellness. Her quality of life had drastically declined, and where she was once a strong and fiercely-independent woman, she was now vulnerable, needy and often illogical. She had exhausted her natural coping mechanisms. Starving for the right nourishment, her mind and body were crying out for help. (One of the main principles of Ayurveda is the importance of self-care, and with that comes the right diet for the individual body type, something easily neglected, but of high importance.) In time, with the proper diet and herbs, plus plenty of love and compassion (this was very important as the energy of love proves to be a powerful healer), the toxic chaos in my mother’s mind and body began to subside, leading her to inner balance and restoring her to wellness. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Your health is your wealth,” and for many of us who have suffered or witnessed a loved one suffering, that statement rings powerfully true.
Within a year of that experience, the Universe organically guided me to pursue a more direct approach with Ayurveda. Because I became a mother at an early age, I was always passionate about working in the health field, but drifted into advertising as a means to provide for myself and son. Regardless, the burning desire to help others remained.
I studied part-time at California State University at Long Beach and eventually completed my science prerequisites to pursue a career as a Physician’s Assistant. By then, however, I had greater insights about pharmaceuticals and the role they play in dis-harmonizing our bodies. My new passion was to understand Wellness from an energy and holistic standpoint. I began to diligently investigate the ancient sciences of healing and discovered that Ayurveda had the most vast, well-documented, and comprehensive system of them all. Not only was Ayurveda considered scientific but it was sacred/spiritual as well. The more I read about it, the more its teachings resonated with me and I discovered hundreds of testimonials of people who had traveled across the world to be treated by Ayurvedic doctors. Infused with inspiration, I meditated on whether I should pursue a calling in alternative healing and asked for guidance.
A few days after that intention was set, a friend asked me to accompany her to visit her mother who was ill. We spent some time caring for her and afterwards went for a hike in the Monrovia Hills, which coincidentally, is the same city where I spent much of my youth. My friend, Yve, played her flute and I meditated near a waterfall. It was as if I were in a dream. As I sat there, tiny water droplets lightly spraying my face, hearing the sound of the waterfall, feeling the cool ground beneath me, smelling the crisp scent of wet rocks, I felt peaceful and centered, and I asked “What would you have me do?”
I sat quietly, loving the energy of my surroundings until my phone rang. I tried to ignore it but couldn’t so proceeded to answer the call. To my surprise, it was Dr. Anu, the Director of Ayurvedic Medicine from the Southern California University of Health Sciences! I had visited the school the year before, but knew that at the time with my demanding job, it was impossible for me to undertake the program. That event was the first of several series of events that happened that month and led me to embark on the journey to becoming a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner. Things lined up with ease, and within 2 weeks, I was sitting in a classroom falling in love with Ayurveda.
The journey was not an easy one. The Ayurvedic Professors held high standards for the students as we learned ancient Vedic “knowledge”. We were challenged to learn an extraordinary amount of information about the pathology of disease, disease management, herbology, biology, yoga, physiology, and Sanskrit. We were being prepared to step into our new roles. The level of awareness and compassion gained by understanding one’s true nature and how we are driven to imbalanced states was both poetic and empowering. A beautiful purification of the mind and body was taking place.
I received my certificate in April 2012 and I am truly grateful to be able to serve the community through the Ayurvedic system of healing, as it is truly an ancient gift to heal people in modern times. By focusing on your ENTIRE WELLNESS and addressing the WHOLENESS of your MIND-BODY-SPIRIT connection, balance and alignment are restored. I have dedicated my life to treating and educating people with this ancient wisdom.