Date:: August, 2012
Todd Caldecott is a clinical herbalist and Ayurvedic practitioner in Vancouver BC. Todd is also author of the textbook “Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life”, co-editor of “Ayurveda In Nepal: The Teachings of Vaidya Mana Bajra Bajracharya”, and author of “Food As Medicine: The Theory and Practice of Food”. Todd is also a former film and television actor guest-starring in several television shows including Wiseguy, 21 Jump Street, Danger Bay, to name a few.
The Spice Mistress is honoured to welcome Todd Caldecott as the focus of this month’s Pancha Q.
After becoming disillusioned with the film industry, Todd traveled to India and West Asia in 1990 for a year long trip where he became very ill. Returning to Canada, Todd sought relief from what now had become a chronic digestive disorder, and found success in the treatments of an Ayurvedic physician. This would prove to have an enormous influence on his life path, and shortly thereafter Todd enrolled and graduated from a three year, full-time clinical program in Western Herbal Medicine at the Coastal Mountain College in Vancouver. After graduating, Todd immediately traveled back to India to study Ayurvedic medicine in India over a five month period, and then returned to Canada to begin practicing, writing and teaching.
Todd offers a rich tapestry of information on his website which draws from Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese and Herbal Medicine reflecting his deep study and diverse practice in these healing arts.
He says “Tradition inspires but it is also the confluence of tradition that excites me… As a clinical practitioner I have followed this intertwining of traditions and practices, and the more closely I observed the more clearly I have seen that all medicine has a common root, is born from a common tapestry. But at the same time I have learned that there is no source of medicine, no source of knowledge but perhaps the Absolute itself, which is perfect… ”
1. How do you begin your day?
Todd: After attending to the purification of the body and the elimination of wastes, I have a big glass of water. Then a brief oil massage before I perform my daily exercise, including russian kettle bell, sit-ups, push-ups etc., usually just to the point of huffing and puffing and sweating. Then I bathe, eat and get on with my day.
Now, I should also add that I have three kids and do a fair amount of travel, so all of this isn’t possible all the time. So, when I wake up, I make an assessment of how I want my day to flow. The closer I can adhere to this schedule the better my day flows.
2. What’s one piece of life changing health advice you can share with others?
Todd: Before I had kids I spent time studying buddhism and meditation in both India and Sri Lanka, and when I returned I had a regular practice. I found that regular meditation enhanced my vitality and brought about peace and calm. As Ayurveda indicates, when we quiet the heart through contemplation and active relaxation of the senses, the vital energy naturally increases.
After I had kids however, I stopped meditating and doing yoga. Like most parents, I found that it was just too hard to keep it going regularly. Yoga especially was an invitation to jump on Daddy! But it’s a vicious cycle, being a parent and not having enough energy to meditate.
What I saw in myself however, and also my patients, was that when we didn’t meditate we needed some kind of proxy, a way to at least discharge if not transmute all of the emotional energy of the day. Unexpressed emotion is the worst of all options because it creates physical disease.And for most people I meet, this proxy is best undertaken as some form of creative release. Music, dance, singing, poetry, drawing: all of it is a form of play, and like children, because we still ARE children, we need to schedule play into our lives. Fortunately as parents, we can also play with our children, and this is a good release too. But having something else is necessary to maintain basic emotional health, and the more it relates to just pure expression rather than refinement and perfection, the better it is. Play is the joyful practice of chaos, what is called ‘lila’ in Sanskrit. Aligning yourself with this energy is to align yourself with life itself.
3. What’s one thing that gives you hope for the future?
Todd: The green growing things always give me hope. I don’t fret too deeply about humans, because with or without us, life will continue on into infinity. There is no end to hope, because there is no end to life. And because we too are life, we have a natural inborn hope. We just need to remember this. When we help another, we increase life energy and hope for everyone. This is what is meant by dharma, or the natural way of things.
4. Any lifestyle ‘Crimes against Wisdom’ (Prajnaparadha) that challenge you?
Todd: In the Ashtanga Hrdaya, Vagbhata discusses the concept of sadvritta, which relates to the proper conduct of thoughts, words and actions. Of these ten elements one is called ‘sambhinna alapa’, which in Buddhist terms is referred to as ‘idle talk’, but nowadays could relate to the influence of the modern media. In my case, it means too much time on the internet, even though I am very choosy about what I expose myself to. This also comes under ‘asatmya indriyartha’, or ‘improper correlation of sense with sense object’, which is part of prajnaparadha.
This is something I struggle with, as we all do these days, especially when it is part of what many of us do for work. I need to constantly remind myself to stop!
5. A moment of beauty that inspired you today?
Todd: Perhaps the most beautiful thing I saw today was my smiling wife handing me a delicious looking omelette this morning for breakfast. I am not generally food-focused, but upon reflection it was a definite highlight to a busy work day. I feel so very thankful to her for such moments of giving and generosity. And there are so many other similar experiences I had today, in the smile of a friend or an appreciative comment from a student. I am seeing such beauty in all the people around me.
Thank you for the interview, Todd. Om Shanti!
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