Being an Ayurvedic practitioner is an incredible way to give back to your community and the world. Helping even one person to change the way they live and eat can cause a ripple effect that ends up benefitting that person’s family and friends. But for these profound changes to occur you have to offer consultations that are clear, in-depth, positive and informative. You have to motivate your client to keep moving forward while at the same time letting them progress at their own pace without them feeling pressured to do too much at once.
You should also keep in mind that this consultation may be your client’s first time revealing so much personal information about their health and inner life with someone they may not know very well. That is why it is vital for you to quietly and non-judgmentally listen closely to your client so they will feel they are able to be open and honest with you. Trust between you and your Ayurvedic patients are key. Explain to them that your time together is all about their journey to mental, physical and emotional health. Their comfort and happiness are the sole focus, and because Ayurveda calls for balance in all aspects of life, being as open and detailed about their current mental, physical and emotional health is very important.
Everyone does things differently in their own unique way and order; this article merely offers suggestions of how some may like to do it! We will cover four basic steps to offer successful, change-making Ayurvedic consultations.
Ask, Listen, Make Connections & Ask Again
One of the first things you can do when you get a new client that wants an Ayurvedic consultation is send them a questionnaire to fill out and return to you so you can study it, make notes, have more questions and some simple changes ready when you meet or call your client next. This questionnaire is usually quite extensive and covers all of the bases to give you a clear first picture of what might be creating your client’s Doshic imbalances. This initial questionnaire will ask about current problems, previous diagnoses, family health history, duration of current problems and specific changes and progression in symptoms. It will also ask for descriptions about their current mental, emotional and spiritual condition, a typical day in their life, what they eat and when, what their hobbies are and what their primary emotions are concerning their life and relationships. Basically you want as thorough an understanding of your client as you can possibly have. A questionnaire is also useful because every six months or annually they can answer the questions again so you both can see what changes have occurred and how you may need to adjust their treatment plan.
These types of questions are called prashna in Sanskrit. They will help you find out your clients’ constitution, what the imbalances are and what’s causing them so you can understand the root cause of the disease and thus make an effective healing plan. This healing plan will include dincharya, a daily routine that you recommend, and ritucharya, a recommended seasonal routine.
Observe & Make Connections
So your client has sent back their completed questionnaire and now you are going to physically see your client face-to-face or use a video call system like Skype or FaceTime! Actually seeing your client is important because taking note of the color and condition of their eyes, skin, nails and hair, the sound of their voice, their body type and movements is going to help you put together an even more complete picture of their state of imbalance. For example, seeing that a client has rosacea will immediately alert you to excess Pitta, though their questionnaire may not have made that imbalance obvious. Observation of your clients is called darshan.
Professional & Deliberate Physical Examination
In Sanskrit this is called sparsha. There are several different techniques that you can use to get the bigger picture of your client’s health. Many practitioners do not consider this to be necessary to make a treatment plan, but if you have been trained in these practices it can be helpful. Sparshanam is the Sanskrit term for palpation, a technique where you use the fingers and hands to conduct a physical examination. The health care provider touches and feels the body to determine the texture, location and tenderness of an organ or of a body part. Shrvanaa, also called auscultation, is another technique where you listen for the sounds made by internal organs such as the heart and lungs either directly or with a stethoscope. Taking a patient’s pulse and inspecting their tongue, nails, eyes and skin also falls under this category.
Help Create A Detailed Meal Plan, Schedule & Herbal Treatment
After you have pinpointed what aspects of your client’s past and present are creating and sustaining the imbalances, consequently causing symptoms and disease, the next step is to help them make and then follow an Ayurvedic diet and a balanced lifestyle that will specifically balance their Doshas. Prescribing herbs, remedies and cleanses like Panchakarma also fall under this step. It’s up to you as the practitioner/doctor to pay close attention to your client on an individual level, taking into account every aspect of their past and present when prescribing herbs and their dosages and treatments such as abhyanga or basti. Many of your clients may be completely new to natural medicines and treatments. They may even be nervous, so be sure to give them very detailed instructions and tips for each medicine and new practice.
This process probably seems quite a bit more in-depth than a typical visit to a doctor’s office, and it is important to explain to your client the major differences between conventional medicine and Ayurveda. When going to a conventional doctor, they will typically diagnose a person based off of the symptoms they are currently experiencing, their family history (maybe), and whether it is a virus, bacteria or problem in the genes. Medicines are then prescribed based off of that information. Sometimes that can work, but usually only on a surface level because those exact same medicines being prescribed for one person are being prescribed to others as well, even though those patients may be completely different from each other in family history and in their constitution. The science of Ayurveda aims to go straight to the source of the ama, toxins, and eradicate the cause completely.
This process of diagnosing and prescribing in Ayurveda is ultimately based off of roga (disease) and rogi (individual). That way your treatments and medicines are tailored to each of your client’s individual needs. The sustaining theory behind studying the disease and the patient as a unique case is called svabhavoparamavada, the idea that all of us have the ability and life force already within us to come back into balance and perfect health. Understanding this, the herbal medicines and cleansing practices are only an aid in the healing process, not the cause.
Keep these four basic and essential steps in mind as you move forward in your journey as an Ayurvedic practitioner. Happy healing from all of us at Kottakkal!
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All views and information shared here is only for the sharing of Ayurvedic knowledge. Please do not try or prescribe or take any of the remedies and suggestions here without talking to your regular, qualified doctor. Kottakkal Ayurveda and no other person associated with Kottakkal is responsible for unwanted side-effects or contraindications in your health. Thank you!
Contributing Editor: Dr. JV Hebbar
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