Health and Wellness

The Benefits of Ayurvedic Medicine

The meeting was attended by 11 members, 2 friends and 14 guests.

Business of the Institute

Program for 2004. Desmond Berghofer reviewed the Program for 2004.

The schedule of meetings is as follows:

Each of the 5 meetings for theme areas will take the form of a mini-conference building toward a major Connections III event in February 2005 (a draft program for Connections III can be viewed here). Connections III will be more than a conference but rather an event for Partners in Action as each of the major projects we are working on will be featured and participants will have the opportunity to spend time planning the next steps in action.

Theme Areas.

Brief reports were given on each of the theme areas

Stewardship and the Environment. Jim Haliburton reported that all projects were proceeding: Recycling in North Shore Schools, Eco-Home Project, Audit of Public Event Spaces. Michael Dunn reported that The Gulf Islands Centre for Ecological Learning is moving ahead. Some solid work on visioning has been done and a business plan prepared. Site selection on Saltspring Island is proceeding and discussions are underway with partners on other islands. A retreat for advisors and board members is being planned for January 2004.

Youth and Education. Bill Borgen and Gerri Schwartz reported that the values-based education project is now moving ahead very solidly following a recent meeting with principals, teachers and school district officials in the New Westminster School District. A follow-up meeting is being held on November 25, 2003. Youth and Education will be the first Mini-Conference to be held on January 26, 2004. A program has been developed and is attached to these highlights under the title “Creating Safe and Caring Schools in Safe and Caring Environments.” This event is being promoted widely to School Districts, Parent Organizations, Government and Community Organizations. Institute Members, Friends and Guests who plan to attend should respond as soon as possible to secure their space.

Relationships and Personal Development. Diane Jennings stressed the significance of this theme area to the work of the Institute in countering a societal trend toward breakdown in relationships. We will hold a mini-conference on this theme on October 25, 2004. More information about that will be available in the New Year.

Business and Sustainability. Desmond Berghofer reported that the Institute's work in support of th Canada Measurement of Well-Being Act has been forwarded to Hon. David Anderson, Minister of the Environment in the Federal Government, who is the lead minister on bringing this legislation forward. A copy of this correspondence has been sent to Hon. Paul Martin, Prime Minister Designate.

Health and Wellness. Maggie Gold reported that the Integrated Medical Association has now held two major gatherings and work is proceeding to formalize this group.


In order for the Institute to carry out the work described above and the major work planned for 2004, we are looking for strong support from expanded membership of Full Members and Friends of the Institute. The Fees for Full Membership have been reduced to $100 payable in January 2004 and for Friends the fee remains at $25 per meeting attended. Fees for guests remain at $10 for the first meeting attended. After that guests may join as Members or return as Friends of the Institute.


The program was introduced by Maggie Gold who also introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Sivakumar Varma. Dr. Varma is an Ayurvedic Physician trained in India. He is certified as a Mind/Body Educator by the Chopra Center for Well-Being and is a certified Yoga Therapist as well. Dr. Varma is an international speaker, has assisted in organizing two World Holistic Health Conferences, and is a pioneer in setting up Ayurvedic Spas and retreat centres around the world.

Pacific Institute
Dr. Sivakumar Varma
3543 W. 4th Ave.
Phone: (604) 228-1537


Dr. Varma began by explaining that Ayurveda is one of the world's oldest recorded systems of medicine. “Ayu” means “life.” “Veda” means “knowledge.” So Ayurveda is “Knowledge of Life.” It is sometimes called the “Source of Life.” Ayurveda is “a supreme symphony of nature and knowledge.” Knowledge in Ayurveda is knowledge of the Laws of Nature.

Ayurveda is “a holistic union of body, mind and soul.”

There are 8 branches of Ayurveda:

  1. General Medicine
  2. Major Surgery
  3. Minor Surgery
  4. Pediatrics and Gynecology
  5. Psychiatry
  6. Toxicology
  7. Anti-Aging Therapy
  8. Vilification and Sexology.

Each branch has many sub-branches.

Ayurvedic medicine is receiving increased attention in western societies. For example, the US government has given $2.5 million for the study of Ayurvedic medicine to the Govt. of India.

In western medicine there is an emphasis on antibiotics, but this is focused on disease care. Health care is completely different. Health care is prevention based on probiotics, the opposite of antibiotics. Probiotics gives alkaline content, e.g. probiotic wine is an alkaline wine with no alcohol content. Dr. Varma has these products in his centre.

For ages the 8 branches of Ayurvedic medicine as holistic therapy listed above have catered to the most specialized health needs of people. The same instruments have been used for thousands of years.

This system is based on 5 great elements or principles. Each has an icon. Iconography is a science of colours and graphics. One icon is a whole book. The 5 elements are:

  1. Space (Akash)
  2. Air (Vayu)
  3. Fire (Agrii)
  4. Water (Jala)
  5. Earth (Prithu)

These elements continuously transmute into each other to create atoms, molecules, minerals, food, and life forms.

These 5 great elements come to 3 body types:

  1. Vada (Space and Air)
  2. Pitta (Fire)
  3. Kapha (Water and Earth)

All the imbalances or disease a human body can have can be brought down to three simple things.

  1. Dryness
  2. Too much acidity
  3. Too much mucus or fat or oil

The body has built in mechanisms to balance these sources of imbalance. We can help this process. If the imbalance is due to dryness, try to balance with essential fatty acids or water. If the imbalance is acidity related, try to follow an alkaline diet. If it is mucus or fat related, try to reduce that.

Dryness is specifically related to the body type Vada and to the principle of movement. If a plant is dry you will see it first at the tips of the leaves. Similarly, with the human body the first thing you will notice is a dryness of the lips. Women are more sensitive to dryness than men. They will try to solve the problem by using lipstick or wetting the lips, but this will not solve the problem. It is like putting a drop of water on the tips of the leaves of the plant. But the plant wants water on its roots.

If a person is dry it affects their mobility. They become clumsy. They feel light headed. They talk fast. There are 84 different diseases that fall under the category of dryness.

The body type Pitta is the principle of transformation and is related to the element of Fire. So the person with this body type is extremely hot. The person will feel moist, fluid, light, pungent, intense, sour. The first thing you will see is an oily skin, but not due to too much oil, but to an acid imbalance. In North America almost everyone has an acid imbalance due to the food we eat. We need a more alkaline diet. Acid imbalance comes from 2 main sources. One is that you take in acid food. Another is due to yeast. In this case the body has too much candida and the body wants to kill it and produces acid. Also yeast fermenting in the gut produces alcohol. On top of that people are drinking alcohol. This suggests we should be paying more attention to creating probiotics. A lot of work is now happening regarding that.

The Kapha body type is related to the principle of cohesion and is characterized by high fat or mucus. The person with this body type feels very lethargic. With acidity the person is aggressive and combative, but in Kapha it is just the opposite. The person has trouble getting up in the morning. The solution is not an alarm clock, but a timer connected to a heater to raise the heat of the room. Then the person will get up when the room becomes too hot.

Dr. Varma showed several short media clips of Ayurvedic treatments. There are 10 million different treatments. Dr. Varma is documenting these treatments. In India not enough people are still studying Ayurvedic medicine, so Dr. Varma is recording treatments so the information will not be lost.

According to Ayurveda, we have 5 bodies.

  1. The Physical body—Vada, Pitta or Kapha
  2. The Energy body
  3. The Mental or Intelligent Body
  4. The Bliss body
  5. The Soul or Spirit body

Aryuveda has articulated 16 principles of creative intelligence:

  1. The nature of life is to grow.
  2. Order is present everywhere.
  3. Life is found in layers.
  4. Outer depends on inner.
  5. Water the roots to enjoy the fruit. Find the root cause of the problem.
  6. Rest and Activity are the steps of progress. Balance is key.
  7. Enjoy and accomplish more. A state of happiness allows accomplishment.
  8. Every action has a reaction.
  9. Purification leads to progress. We have to purify all of the bodies. Don't hold on to a “poo-poo” (physical or mental). Let it go.
  10. The field of all possibilities is the source of all solutions.
  11. Thought leads to action. Action leads to achievement. Achievement leads to fulfillment.
  12. Knowledge is gained from inside and outside.
  13. The world is as we are. If your mind is negative, the world is a negative place to you. The opposite is true if your mind is positive.
  14. Opposites are found together. We are attracted to the opposite. We have to find the union of the opposites. Too often we give up (as in divorce) because we don't understand the laws of nature. We must understand where the balance is in the opposite. Dr. Varma told an interesting story of cells in the laboratory learning how to survive, then becoming lazy and collectively suffering until mediator cells came along to show them how to survive. This is what is happening with humanity today. We need the mediators to show the way and keep us going.
  15. The whole is found in every part.
  16. The whole is more than the sum of the parts.

When you understand the 16 principles, the main 3 body types, and the 5 layers of the body, you can look at how to nourish each of them. The food for the Energy body is companionship. This is more refined than relationship. It can come from the joy of work. Balance is key. The Mental body is nourished by peace, harmony, laughter and love. Does your activity give you these? The body continuously checks. Anger works against the Mental body. The body clears out the negatives at night. You need to work with this natural process. You need to ask yourself: Are my activities giving me peace, harmony laughter and love? What are the thoughts I am having? How are they affecting me?

The Intelligent body is connected with desires. There are 3 ways to fulfill desires.

  1. By acting on them (like a child playing with toys). From age 1-48 we are in that period of our lives where we tend to hang on to our desires.
  2. By trying to get a better bargain. This is what motivates us from age 48-84.
  3. By growing out of desires. This is how we act from age 84-120.

We need to do each of these age-related roles properly. We should not suppress them. If a child is not allowed to play with toys, he never grows out of being a child.

In the Bliss body, people can be givers (positive) or takers (negative). There is so much potential on Earth, but we do not see it all. If we do we know people can change from negative to positive.

Dr. Varma closed his presentation with the following mantra:

May all be blessed with well-being,
May all be free from ailments.
May all behold auspicious events.
May none be affected by war.

Discussion, Questions and Comments

The participants held a discussion period following Dr. Varma's presentation out of which came the following questions and comments.

Q: What is the Institute for Holistic Living?
A: It is Dr. Varma's consulting practice and a herbal store. He is starting up a college. For people who can pay, the fee is $90 for a consultation. Dr. Varma gives many free consultations.

Q: What is being done to bring this information to more people?
A: Dr. Varma writes articles, but is limited in speaking engagements because of the busyness of his consulting practice. He is developing a website and is also working with pharmacies on the development of probiotics. The problem is this work cannot be patented, because it is natural.

Q: Why is there more awareness in our society of Chinese medicine than Aryuvedic medicine?
A: Actually, it was the Buddhist monks who took Ayurveda to China, so Chinese medicine is based on Ayurveda. The Chinese population who came to Canada tended to be practitioners and brought the practice of Chinese medicine with them. The Indian people who came tended to be farmers and did not bring the practice of Ayurveda. In India, Ayurveda is practiced in the south, but has been largely lost in the north. The manuscripts were taken to the south by the masters to preserve them against the wars going on in the north.

Q: What are some books to read about Ayurveda?
A: The best one is A Practical Guide to Ayurveda by Vasanplad.


In thanking Dr. Varma for his presentation, Maggie Gold stressed the interest of the Institute in promoting complementary medical practice for the benefit of all. We will certainly do what we can to include Ayurveda medicine in that process.

Next Meeting

This was the final meeting for 2003. The next meeting on January 26, 2004 marks the start of our new year of hosting mini-conferences to build towards Connections III in February 2005.

The Mini-Conference on January 26, 2004 is “Creating Safe and Caring Schools in Safe and Caring Communities.” As this event will be promoted widely, Members, Friends and Guests planning to attend should confirm their place as soon as possible.

We wish everyone all the best for the holiday season and look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.