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Digestive Fire in Late Summer: The Polarity Paradigm meets Ayurveda, on the dock, in this 21st Century

By August 10, 2020Uncategorized

By: Amadea Morningstar

Imagine that we are all part of this Polarity paradigm together in late summer 2020. I’m inviting you to join a creative riff with me, to imagine what might happen if two seminal energies were to meet unexpectedly. I invite you to open to the Field together as these energies unfold and interact.

I appreciate Ray Castellino’s invitation to all of us workshop participants online in early August 2020 to join the Field together. When I returned to that Field after the workshop, this is what
spontaneously arose. If you were there, open your arms again and join us. If you weren’t there, I am so glad you are here now, join us.

Opening to the Field and its rhythms, imagine we are on the edge of a lake in the Midwest in late summer. Dr. Stone has wandered down to the water and is on the pine dock jutting out from the sandy shore in late afternoon. The sun warms the boards of the pier as he rolls up his sleeves and his pant legs, and puts his bare feet in the cool water. Six feet or so away from him on the dock is a strongly built beautiful East Indian woman, about his age, someone he obviously respects. There is a sense of collegial reserve between them. The green water laps around the dock as
they acknowledge each other, and us. You can smell the aroma of freshly cut grass wafting in from a distance away. The sound of the water against the pine dock is steadily rhythmic.

Dr. Stone begins the conversation, “The body goes through changes like the seasons in Nature. There are times when stimulating and warm foods are best, as in cold seasons. The summer season supplies its own answer in producing luscious fruits and vegetables, which are best taken then as they help to balance the outside heat by their watery essences.” (Vol. 1, Book III, p. 111)

The charismatic Southwest Asian woman, Ms. Dhanvantari, nods her head and smiles. A slight aroma of sandalwood and lime lifts on to the air. Sunlight catches the large pearl earrings glinting at her lobes. She replies, “Pitta-calming, fire-soothing bitter and astringent foods take the form of soothing mint, fresh cilantro, lettuce, Asian greens, and raw spinach. In Ayurveda, we continue to use digestive spices in foods and drinks to support our ability to assimilate nutrients at this time of year. These spices tend to be milder ones, used in smaller proportions, until we get to the

Dr. Stone takes a bit of a breath and looks off across the waters of the lake, arms on his knees. There is a resonance between them. Can you feel it, here in the Field? A slight pause as they breathe in rhythm. “Yes, “ he replies. “Bitter taste and fire. TRUE.” (Vol. 2, Book VI, Chart 21)

Ms. D nods enthusiastically. You can tell she’s a talker, with a lilting accent that is difficult to place. “With regard to the temperature of summer fluids, Ayurveda takes it easy on extremes. Iced drinks are passed up as they can dilute hydrochloric acid and repress production of digestive enzymes (Western research on the digestive system substantiates this ancient view).
Yet, we also take it easy on hot water at this point in the year because it can bring up Pitta, as many menopausal women discover. Pungent, sharply-spiced foods are used in far smaller quantities than in a cooler season. The fewer onions, garlic and chili we consume, the calmer our Pitta -fire is likely to be. It’s recommended to take it easy on the hot sun, enjoying nature on the cooler edges of the day. We address our individual conditions while balancing the Pitta – fire of the season.”

Dr. Stone warms to his topic as well: “All vegetables and fruits are rich in minerals, as are grasses and grains, when properly prepared as food. The juices of vegetables and fruits have been used as juice-therapy, for better health, by many ailing persons as well as by healthy people to maintain good health. The juices are extracted from fresh fruits and vegetables, and used at once so that they do not oxidize and ferment when exposed to air.” (Health Building, p. 74)

Ms. Dhanvantari ruffles a bit at this concept. You can see she is trying not to take offense. East Indian Ayurveda values cooked food. Juicers were not used one thousand years ago. Perhaps she has been on the planet longer than she looks. She tries a diplomatic approach. “Well,” she begins slowly, the breeze picking up in the wild grasses near the dock, as the sun moves toward the Western horizon, “If there is more Pitta in the constitution – what you Westerners would call fire I think – or Kapha (earth –water for you?), a person can eat more raw foods in summer, including a
salad at lunch when agni is strongest.”

“Yet Ayurveda considers many raw foods heavy and more difficult to digest. This is particularly true for more Airy people.” She concedes, “This is not always true for everyone though. If we are working with airy/Vata conditions, we must trust ourselves and continue to eat more cooked rather than raw foods, even in warm weather.” She looks a bit fierce on this point. “Our digestive systems can be relied upon to give us the feedback we need, that is, if we’re willing to listen to them. If our stomach is rumbly-grumbly with salad, we listen. If it sings with interest, we take that in, too”.

Dr. Stone leans forward slightly, brushing a green-gold bug from his solid forearm, intent on his flow. “(But) fresh celery juice is rich in sodium and has many uses. It is one of the best vegetables for juicing as it covers so many of the body’s needs. It also has a pleasant flavor and is helpful to the nerves and a good night’s sleep if taken before retiring.” (Health
Building, p. 73)

Her face, bluish black in complexion and strong, wrinkles in private horror. Celery at bedtime for insomniacs. Oh blessed Goddess. She holds her tongue on this point and is about to change the topic, as a mallard duck, a female, lights not far away on the shimmering surface of the water, now green, then black, now gray…

(Respected reader, are you here? Can you open your arms and palpate the Field, that place where Dr. Stone is very much alive and Dhanvantari, the guiding energy of Ayurveda, has never died? As Dr. Stone would say, “Life pertains to the Central Energy. Death belongs to the body or form. As life moves and changes constantly, so must the forms which life builds. We
1, Book I, p. 14)

While these words are not spoken out loud, it is almost as if Ms. D has heard them any way. She turns toward Dr. S, who is looking quizzically at her, and smiles into his eyes. The joy that is so much a part of his nature can be seen reflected in her eyes, stern as they are in this moment. “Ah,” she says. “The rhythms of agni are unexpected.” (Note to Westerner
readers: Agni is Sanskrit for digestive fire, the relative strength of our digestive system at any given moment.)

Dr. Stone, with his years in India, closely mirrors Ayurveda’s concept of digestive fire with his perspective from the Polarity paradigm as he replies, Food must be digested just as fuel must be burnt, or clinkers remain. If the good reader ever fired a furnace or a boiler in a power plant, he learned a few very valuable lessons, namely:
1st – Not too much shoveled in at once
2nd – Spread the coal thinly over the hot embers
3rd – Regulate the draft
4th – Select the fuel which will burn best – leaving the least amount
of clinkers – with the least fumes and smoke
(Health Building, p. 126)

“Exactly so.” Ms. Dhanvantari whips a colorful chart out of her capacious bright yellow cotton gown with one smooth gesture. “In the heat of summer, both our strength and agni decline,” she says emphatically. “Look, see here, this line of gold stars, the path of agni. Soon in the fall digestive fire will be coming up again. Yet now is the time to eat lightly and be aware.”


She gets no argument from Dr. Stone, the wind ruffling his white hair. He replies thoughtfully, “Paracelsus, the great alchemist, observed this also when he stated that man is ill because he is never still. He said there was great healing in the quiet depths of space, but man never tuned into it by being quiet himself!” (Vol. 1, Book I, p. 47)

Dhanvantari nods. Silence gathers around them and us as the sun heads toward setting. There is a palpable cooling in the air. The fragrant evergreens on the far side of the lake begin to darken in the gathering shadows of early evening. Toward that forest, in the distance you can hear the quack of a wild duck, chortling to its kin.

Dr. Stone gets speculative. “We admire the free grace and natural elastic carriage of the South Sea Islanders. …Some of their devotion was also expressed in dances, which was a new idea to the suppressed white man.”

She looks at him with some reserve, yet offers no comment. There is a pause. Energy gathers in the Field, alive, alert. What will come next? I invite you to hold the space, to breathe, to open to all of us here, and them, in this shared Field.

He continues, “Other races of the East, who did not have the easy life and the customs of the South Sea Islanders and who had less time for song and dance, developed postures to accomplish all that and more! In the absence of chairs and other comforts, Nature favors the squatting posture. It is natural all over the East, especially in India. Statistics show that 70% or the population of the earth use the squatting posture.” (Health Building, p. 108)

Ms. Dhanvantari inclines her head, acknowledging the compliment to her ancient culture and healing ways without conceding anything further. We look across the water, as it laps against the far shore of the lake. As we return our gaze to the two protagonists, their stance has changed. Still at least six feet apart or more, they both squat, arms round their knees, looking out at the water, rocking. There is a sense of dynamic repose between them. We take our leave, with one last invitation to open to the Field in which all of us breath at this very moment, the Polarity Paradigm
and Ayurveda at rest.

Amadea Morningstar has worked with Polarity Therapy since 1995, as an educator, practitioner, and writer. She directs the Ayurveda Polarity Therapy & Yoga Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, integrating Ayurveda and Marma Therapy into her Polarity Therapy teachings and practice. Past venues have included Kripalu, Omega, and the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas. Her book, The Ayurvedic Guide to Polarity Therapy (2001) is a core resource text for Polarity coursework about Energetic Nutrition and Stretching Postures.

Amadea will offer an RPP level Energetic Nutrition course online this fall in Polarity training programs directed by JaniceMarie Durand and Brian Jansen She has shot two five-hour elemental video courses for the APP level in Energetic Nutrition as well as Stretching postures that she hopes to offer soon. Contact her at for more information. She enjoys collaborating with a variety of other professionals to integrate Ayurveda and Polarity Therapy into their lives and practices. Her recent publications are Easy Healing Drinks from the Wisdom of Ayurveda and a chapter on Ayurveda in Leininger’s Transcultural Nursing, 4th Edition (2018).
For more about how to work with food in this season visit two of Amadea’s blogs: “What to Eat when the Rains Come?” and “7 Tips for Easy Healing Ayurveda Drinks Garden Fresh”
With gratitude to the incomparable Resource of Digital Dr. Stone



One Comment

  • Karen M Kerns says:

    I so enjoyed your portrayal of the rise and fall of nutritious knowledge from different perspectives. It lured me to pull our your Ayurvedic Guide to Polarity Therapy again.!

    Be well,
    Karen Kerns

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