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In today's podcast Tahnee speaks with Claudia Welch. Claudia is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, an Āyurvedic practitioner, educator and author. Claudia and Tahnee examine women's health through the lense of naturalistic duality, cycles and rhythms, sharing their knowledge and experience in a holistic and approachable way.
The ladies explore:
- The diligence of self care.
- The intricate nature of hormones.
- The importance of rest and activity.
- The concept of balance in regards to health and wellness.
- Using the potency of a morning practice to re-pattern outdated ways of being.
- Learning to live with awareness to the natural rhythms and cycles of nature.
- Using the concept of yin and yang to explain health, healing and medicine.
- Life's ever present dualities that transverse the paradigms and philosophies of health.
- Daily routines and morning rituals and how they fit into the micro and macrocosms of our humanistic rhythms.
Who is Dr Claudia Welch?
Dr Claudia Welch is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, an Āyurvedic practitioner and educator, and the author of several books including Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Achieving Optimal Health and Wellness Through Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Western Science and, The Four Qualities of Effective Physicians: Practical Ayurvedic Wisdom for Modern Physicians.
Dr. Welch lectures internationally on Oriental and Āyurvedic medicine, exploring how ideas in Eastern medicine apply to Women’s Health, and today’s reality in general. She has served on the teaching faculty of The Āyurvedic Institute, Kripalu School of Ayurveda, Southwest Acupuncture College, and Acupractice Seminars.
Check Out The Transcript Below:
Tahnee: Hi everybody, and welcome to the SuperFeast podcast. Tonight I have Dr. Claudia Welch with us. She's a doctor of Oriental medicine and an Ayurvedic practitioner and educator. She's also the author of several [inaudible 00:00:53] including Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life, Chinese Medicine and Western Science, and The Four Qualities of Effective Physicians. Dr. Welch teaches internationally on Oriental and Ayurvedic medicine, and she explores her ideas in Eastern medicine applied [inaudible 00:01:07] health and just to today's reality in general, which is one of my favorite things about her work.
Tahnee: She's served on teaching facility for the Ayurvedic Institute, the Kripalu School of Ayurveda and the Southwest Acupuncture College, and AcuPractice Seminars. And she also sometimes makes up statistics, but when she does that, she readily admits it. I'd love for you to elaborate on that. I thought that was really fun. What did you mean when you say that you make up statistics?
Claudia Welch: Well, I'm married to a wonderful Italian man from a big Italian family, and one of them doesn't do it quite so much, but a bunch of the boys in the family, boys, they're all in their 60s or 70s, many of them have a habit of saying something with great confidence, and you think they must know what they're talking about. They throw in a statistic, and I've learned you really got to double check it all. But I've kind of picked that up a little bit, but because I really don't like not knowing for sure whether something is made up or not, then I will readily make up a statistic and say, "I'm making this up." For example, if I say, "Well, I'm making this up, but I think about 95% of the women that I've seen in my life have some sort of hormonal imbalance." So then you can make up the statistic to give an idea of what my experience is, but I can readily admit that it's made up and it could be wrong.
Tahnee: For sure. Do you feel like that's kind of an accurate-ish statistic, because certainly in the work I do in my life, I can't believe how normalized hormonal kind of issues are in our culture, and how it's almost expected that you're going to have a [inaudible 00:02:38] period, or have a thyroid issue, or some ... You know, it kind of just seems to be almost, women just think that that's normal.
Claudia Welch: I do think that's probably a fairly accurate made up statistic. The thing that I think is really hard for us to realize is that if we're experiencing stress, we are not experiencing balanced hormones. That's just pretty much the reality. And so, how many people are stressed out? Well, you know, so you can kind of lend that made up statistic to how many people do you feel are stressed out. If it's about 95%, then it's going to be about the same amount as people who are hormonally imbalanced.
Tahnee: And I mean, as we're talking about stuff, because this is something I've actually been thinking about a lot lately. I don't know if you know about the [inaudible 00:03:20] fragility models, but it's basically an idea that mechanical system will wear and tear and break down, but a biological organism is actually by design able to rebuild and repair, and therefore, we're not so much fragile but we need to have appropriate amount of stress and appropriate amount of rest.
Tahnee: And one thing I really picked up from your first book that I read, the Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life book was just that idea of yin and the yang, really being able to actually balance out the [inaudible 00:03:46] and how much we do, and how much stress we put ourselves under with that kind of appropriate rest and that appropriate time out. I think that [inaudible 00:03:55] is people just don't know how to stop and actually have a break, and let the stress kind of integrate. I feel like this [inaudible 00:04:03] it's kind of like we don't have the opposite of it.
Claudia Welch: Yeah. So when we're talking about yin and yang, or archetypal descriptors of duality, because that's what yin and yang is, it's looking at the world through the lens of duality, which is such a useful lens, and it's such an archetypal lens too. You were mentioning before we got on today that you are familiar with TCM, traditional Chinese medicine. So you know yin and yang is a foundation in Chinese medicine, and Chinese medicine and Ayurveda are both these holistic systems, so they both use five elements, they both use yin and yang, they both use different lenses through which to view different aspects of reality from a holistic point of view, and that's what all these things are, none of them are reality themselves, yin and yang, and eight principles, and five elements. They're not reality, they're models trying to describe reality.
Claudia Welch: But the unique thing about the yin and yang descriptor is that even though both systems came up with five elements for example, the five elements are different, and they don't translate from one to another. The eight principles doesn't really translate to Ayurveda. The zang-fu doesn't really translate to Ayurveda. [inaudible 00:05:11] is similar to meridians and organ systems in Chinese medicine, but not the same. So nothing exactly translates except language of duality, which in Chinese medicine is called yin and yang, and in Ayurvedic medicine it's called brumhana and langhana, brumhana being yin and langhana being yang. And that's exactly the same, where one end of the spectrum is describing grounded, calming, nourishing qualities, and the other end of the spectrum is describing energetic, stimulating, motivating qualities.
Claudia Welch: When we're looking at this and talking about stress, and rest, and restoration, and activity and this kind of stuff, where it's really archetypal, really primal way must be, because these two separate cultures came up with them exactly, and none of their lenses are the same. But this one is, and it's fundamental to both of them. So when we're looking at this, one of the ways we describe yin is feminine, and one of the ways that we describe yang is masculine. It doesn't mean that women are only soft, and grounding, and nourishing, and don't have an active, stimulated, motivated aspect to it, but it's just this archetypal way of describing reality. And when we look at that and we look at the surroundings, the environment that we're in, almost all of us now, we're in a very young, very masculine kind of world where ambition, and pushing, and movement, and stimulation, these are all ... We have quite a love affair with these things, and kind of demote the more feminine aspects of weight, and groundedness, like heaviness is an insult to someone, dull is an insult.
Claudia Welch: But these are actually incredible qualities that we need in our lives. And because we're living in this kind of yang masculine world, I think it's useful to look briefly at the differences between men and women when you're talking about this balance between rest and activity. In the last couple years, one of my favorite ways to describe the difference between men and women, in the very broad strokes kind of way, there's certainly exceptions, is to say that men arrive at rejuvenation through activity, and that women arrive at activity through rejuvenation. I'm going to say that again and then I'll unpack it a little bit. Okay, so men arrive at rejuvenation through activity, and women the opposite. Women arrive at activity through rejuvenation.
Claudia Welch: So, let me give an example of this. My husband and I were on the road for a year and a half working some six, seven years ago, and we didn't have a home base. We'd moved away from New Mexico, we hadn't settled into our new place in Vermont, and because of our teaching schedules and travel schedules we couldn't do that for a year and a half. We didn't have a home base, we were really tired. When we got to our wonderful little place here in Vermont, I just wanted to lie on the couch for six months, and I needed to. And he would act like a human bullet. He would strap a helmet on his head, he'd lay on a sled face-first and face-down, and go down the fastest hill, the steepest hill he could find.
Claudia Welch: And at first I felt a little judgmental about him. I thought, "Oh, he just doesn't know himself well enough to know that he needs rest, and only if he would know himself a little bit." And then I would watch him come in from acting like a human bullet, and he was truly rejuvenated, and happy, and doing well. And I thought, "Okay, apparently I'm needing is not what he's needing." And I looked at this from a hormonal point of view, really went more deeply into testosterone and more deeply into estrogen, and these kind of differences in terms of men and women. And sure enough, it really explained it. And once I got that and I shared that with him, first of all, great for our marriage because I stopped being judgmental and naggy, and really recognized that it was really great. And he's an amazing man, because he has always been very supportive of me when I need to rest.
Claudia Welch: For me, the biggest obstacle to resting ... So for women, that rest until this little phoenix comes out of the flames and has this little, "Oh, now I'm ready to do something. Now I'm ready for a certain kind of activity," that we really need rest that looks like rest, it doesn't look like being a human bullet. And when we compare ourselves with the men in our lives, we can think, "Oh my gosh, am I lazy, or what's wrong with me? Do I have cancer? What is my problem? I can't keep up with the men in my life." And men can do the same thing in reverse, they can think, "What's wrong with my wife? She's so lazy, she can't do anything." If we understand this about each other, it can really help.
Claudia Welch: And what I've found is, because my husband is so understanding and supportive of this, I don't have this excuse of saying, "Oh well, I'm not going to rest because my husband doesn't want me to, or men don't want me to, or society doesn't want me to." What I really recognize about myself in my life now, it's much, much better. But when I was in my 30s and I recognized how important rest, and rejuvenation, and nourishment in this way is for women, and I'm really intellectually convinced of this. I knew I needed some couch time, I knew that I needed to rest in my mid-30s. And when I would start to do that, I would feel so uncomfortable, and embarrassed.
Claudia Welch: And if I would lie on the couch and rest a little bit, if somebody walked in, I would want to pick up a book or a magazine and pretend I was being productive. The hidden cameras that I place around me all the time were all on and wondering, "Am I being there to prove that I'm being productive, and on target, and on task, and on time." For me the biggest thing was standing in my own way of rest, because other people were willing to support me, but I was having a hard time doing that myself. And that's what I see with let's say, 95% of us, right? Making it up.
Tahnee: Yeah. I relate to everything you said there. I had this relationship with my partner where he would go bodysurfing in these eight-foot waves for hours, and I'm like, "That literally is my worst nightmare." And he comes back glowing, and really calm, and energy's really even. And I'm like, "I need to rest, I need to lie down, I need to be outside in nature. It needs to be quiet, and calm, and I need to not have stress." It's the complete opposite. Yeah, and we both try and support each other in that.
Tahnee: And I also really relate to that insidious kind of voice or construct that we have that is the successful human, you have to be doing [inaudible 00:11:50] because I certainly know for myself, when I first got pregnant I took a month off. It was really hard to do, but I was living on [inaudible 00:11:57] with no wifi, and no phone, and no connection to the outside world. And I came out of that so excited and creative because I was just so rested. I slept underneath the [inaudible 00:12:07] and I couldn't really go anywhere because I didn't have anywhere to go, so I just kind of stayed in my little cabin, did a jigsaw puzzle.
Tahnee: But I do viscerally remember how overflowing I was from that experience, where I think my partner would have gone nuts. I think that's something I don't know how we ... When you work with people, how do you get them to see that and how to make those shifts? Because it's something I find really difficult to [inaudible 00:12:30] people, because it's like a mental understanding that they're not getting enough rest, or getting enough [inaudible 00:12:36]. I don't know how women [inaudible 00:12:39].
Claudia Welch: Well you know, I never feel my job is to get anybody to do anything. I don't want to get anybody to do anything, because I don't know anything. I mean, I may even know that 1000 people have benefited from rest before, but maybe you're not supposed to, right? I think as we go along in life, we realize how little we know. But what I do find very useful is sharing my own experience, and sharing the experience of others. And this is what I've seen over, and over, is that it is extraordinary difficult for us as women to take the rest and take the space we need, even if we are intellectually convinced that we should do it. We may be teaching it.
Claudia Welch: How many people do we know who are teaching these kind of things but then they themselves are just threadbare emotionally, or spiritually, or physically, or mentally? There's such a threadbareness, and how do we keep it going? It's not to say that crunch times don't come in life, a time where your spouse has to be with someone who's ill, so they're away, so that you're up longer, and you're burning the candle at both ends a little bit, or a parent dies, or a child becomes sick. There's these times where we can't just say, "I'm sorry, I need a bath. I can't help you, even though you have a fever." We can't do that. So there are those crunch times. But those should be the exception. Those should take a day, a week, a month, a year in extreme situations, and we should have pieces to pick up at the other end.
Claudia Welch: So what do we do on our day-to-day lives between the crisis events and those crunch times where we have to overextend ourselves. What are we doing on a regular basis? That's why Ayurveda is so determined about dinacharya, what they call a healthy daily routine. Because during those times in between crises which God willing are long, then you're spending time every morning taking care of yourself, you're going to bed early enough so that you can get up early enough so that you can have this time before all the busyness of the day sets in, so that you can do some breathing exercises, do some yoga, take a walk, make some good food for yourself. These kind of things.
Tahnee: I guess that's sort of reframing, because I have a bit of a bug there with the whole self-care [inaudible 00:14:55] For me it's certainly having those routines or those structures in place where I carve out time to do things that I know really nourish me. One of the things I picked up from Ayurveda was my own growth, [inaudible 00:15:09] soothing my body, and just that touch, I'm a real tactile person, and touch is really important to me. Little things like that, having those little morning routines or rituals that [inaudible 00:15:21] is something we do every morning. A big glass of water first thing, get outside and breathe some fresh air, those little moments. We call them spirit moments, trying to capture a little piece of something bigger than [inaudible 00:15:34] the day. Could you maybe flesh out a little bit the importance of routine? For me, especially becoming a mother, I feel like I'm so into routines. Not in a structured way, but just in that rhythm. I feel like there's this beautiful ease that comes with knowing what comes next.
Claudia Welch: Yeah, I think our bodies and our minds are really primadonnas. We really need that. Just consider for a second what primadonnas we are. And if we go back to the language of duality to describe this, if we look at in Ayurveda we talk about ten pairs of opposites, and ten qualities are yin, and ten qualities are yang, and there's the opposite qualities. So, hot and cold, light and heavy, oily and dry, very stark extremes on both sides. And let's just take one of those, hot and cold. Where do we live? We live in Fahrenheit anyway, at 98.6, right? That is to the decimal point primadonna. Hot, cold, 98.6. It's not a general range, it's this very, very specific place. A couple degrees on one side or another of that and we're really really uncomfortable. A couple more degrees, we're dead.
Claudia Welch: So its not optional for us to live in balance, in that sweet spot. That's where we live. So just imagine how much is going on to that forces our hormones and our systems into response. Every minute, the temperature is changing, the light's changing, how much we've eaten is changing, how much we've drunk is changing, whether we've had stimulating conversation, or gentle conversation, and what kind of energetics and responses our bodies need to engage in order to maintain that balance. It's huge. So giving our bodies this help in this regard by having a routine, and eating at certain times, and helping it know what to expect when this is very settling for the system. Yeah, I think we're primadonnas and we need all the help we can get.
Tahnee: And I guess it sort of fits into when I think about the circadian rhythms of the body, and how nature works. That's what I find for me so intriguing about these kind of traditions like the Daoist tradition, the Ayurvedic tradition, really coming out of an observance of the natural rhythms. And I kind of noticed that they also sort of came about as civilizations started to come about, and it was kind of this response to the moving away from being these people that are naturally connected to these things, [inaudible 00:18:00] kind of a structure or a system to remind us.
Claudia Welch: In fact, that's what they say in Ayurveda is that how it came to be were these sages met in the Himalayas, and they said, "We need something to give people who live in cities." You don't have to teach someone who is farming in a village in the country that you need to live in the rhythm with the seasons. That's what they're doing. So this is for those of us who are either living in the cities metaphorically or literally. Because what they're saying is for people who are living out of harmony with the seasons. And many of us sort of need to live in a place that's temperature controlled one way or another, but we're not gardening, we're buying our food and so forth.
Claudia Welch: So how do we have a relationship with the seasons if we're indoors all day, and we're not growing our own food and so forth. And this dinacharya gives us a way to at least even if we're not engaged with the seasons [inaudible 00:18:53] although I think that's a really beautiful part of dinacharya is getting outside a little bit every day. It's different than exercising in the gym. If you get outside when it's 20 below zero Fahrenheit or when it's 80 degrees above, they're going to do different things to the body. We're going to kind of stay in touch with what's going on out there. But one of the things, because the microcosm is the body and the macrocosm is the universe, and one is in the other, and the other is in the one, which is a basic tenet of both Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, right? If we understand the seasons of our own lives and our own rhythms in a 24-hour cycle, we will be more connected to the external cycles.
Claudia Welch: What is Ayurveda? I remember many years ago, 20, 25, 30 years ago, teaching some basic Ayurveda at a massage school. Carrots are little pitta, they're slightly heating, tomatoes are a little more heating, then chili peppers, and then on the other side we have cilantro which is cooling, and watermelon, and these kind of things. And this woman said, "I don't know if I like Ayurveda. It's analyzing every little thing to death." And I can't remember what I said to her, but I remember getting in my car and thinking, "What am I doing? This is sucking all the spontaneity out of people." And this little voice, for lack of a better word, came awareness. It's not analyzing everything to death, it's learning to live with awareness of how things do affect us. Things do affect us, to smaller or bigger degrees. Whether you eat a carrot, or a piece of lettuce, how different is that effect going to be? It's going to be very subtle. Chili pepper and ice cream, that's going to be less subtle.
Claudia Welch: There's these gradations of awareness, but the more aware we can be of how our environments really are affecting us, so the more we can kind of awaken our powers of intraception, our internal sensory apparatus, and see, feel, smell, taste what's going on inside our tissues, inside our organisms, the more aware we are of the true state of our internal organism, the more choice we have as to how to respond to that, and make little changes, little adjustments as we go along. If we go along ignoring it for a long time, such a momentum is created that it takes a tremendous force to turn that around. But if we're always aware and we're always making little adjustments, it's like being in a sailboat. You make a little change, it makes an immediate adjustment. Whereas the Titanic, if you're headed in a certain direction, it's going to take a lot of momentum and time to turn that ship around. So, it's living with awareness.
Claudia Welch: One other thing I want to mention about that daily routine thing is, if we notice in Ayurveda, the heavy emphasis is placed on what we do in the mornings. And I think that there's some real beautiful aspects of that. And again, because of this microcosm macrocosm idea, where we're the microcosm, the universe is the macrocosm, and if we apply that microcosm macrocosm idea temporally, then we see that the 24-hour cycle of day, night, 24-hour time cycle, if we overlay that against the cycle of a human being, birth, middle age, death, long dark time of the soul, rebirth, whatever, what we find is that the morning relates to early life, the dawn relates to childhood, early morning relates to early life, midday relates to midlife, dusk relates to death. "Night is a jungle," my teacher used to say. There's this jungle of in between lives, if you believe in reincarnation. Then conception would happen, would correlate to predawn.
Claudia Welch: And so this predawn through birth, through early childhood, predawn through early morning time, if we relate that to conception, birth, and early childhood, and we consider how important the in utero time is, the birth time and early childhood, for an organism, for a human being, for an individual, and the impact that that time has on the rest of that individual's life, we know through Western science, everything we know from any modality says these early years, this early time sets the course of our life, sets the health of our immune systems, our mental health, our spiritual health, this time is so powerful, impressions made early in one's life lasts a lifetime. And so, we have this little window of opportunity every day to kind of recapture that spirit, that effect, in early morning, and re-pattern ourselves. So many of us have some kind of detrimental pattern from early childhood that we've been struggling with.
Claudia Welch: But if we have this early new dawn of existence kind of experience which we can tap into early morning every day, we have this opportunity to re-pattern old hurts, old patterns, physically, emotionally, spiritually. And I think that's part of the secret of why these daily routines are prescribed in the mornings more than the middle of the day or the end of the day, that they're really morning-heavy.
Tahnee: And I guess that idea is that kind of almost child-like innocence in the morning where we haven't had the day [inaudible 00:24:10] clear and receptive I think to that transformation. That's been my experience, because with yoga as well that same feeling lies. I feel like even if I do [inaudible 00:24:20] in those early hours it's worth more. I feel like i get more benefit from that, which is not to say it's not nice to do things in the evening, but yeah, I can relate to it. [inaudible 00:24:31] some scars and karmic patterns, there's always potential [inaudible 00:24:35] to have some real structure. And I think also what I find as the body comes to [inaudible 00:24:42] it's almost like the benefits happen before you even start doing the thing, you know? Like there's this kind of little, "Oh, I'm about to have my meditation, or about to scrape my tongue," and by body kind of goes, "Yay." It's almost this little cellular memory or reminder.
Tahnee: And I think that's when I notice when I used to teach yoga a lot I used to always talk about how we treat a child, and almost bringing that same [inaudible 00:25:03] and having now had a child, I'm so aware of what she eats, and I'm so aware of the times that she sleeps, and how much rest ... She never goes to bed late. Her naps are sacred, and her time outside is sacred. And it really did make me aware of how little I was doing that for myself, even though it was something I taught and something I thought about and talked about. Just to apply that same level of diligence to our own care, and our own nurturing I think is a really [inaudible 00:25:30]
Claudia Welch: Yeah, and you know it's beautiful hearing you talk about your level of receptivity, and doing it in the morning you have this increased receptivity. I don't know that that's always the case. I think sometimes we get into a kind of a forced march with this. "This is what I have to do for myself in order to be healthy. I'm going to do it, and I don't want to, but I'm going to do it anyway." This kind of forced march. And this over the years has really ... I've thought about this a lot. My guru, when he used to put us in meditation, almost every time he would put us into meditation he would say, "Do your meditation lovingly. Don't think of it as a burden." And he said that so much of the time that I'd stopped hearing it. And I would definitely think of it as a burden. I'd sit down, and oh God, and the pain, and the sitting still, and all of this kind of resistance.
Claudia Welch: And then, when I started studying about hormones, I learned a couple of things, and I was also looking at aspects of the brain, and how we change habits, and how we learn things. A couple of things came together for me, along with idea that early childhood is so important. Because in early childhood ... I'm going to throw a couple of hormone and brain things in here. But in early childhood, we see that children are sponges. They're just absorbing everything. One of the reasons that's happening is there's this part of the brain called the nucleus basalis that's on 24/7 for babies, for infants, early childhood. It's on 24/7. It doesn't take a dog and pony show to make an impression on a child. They have an impression every time they see a new color, hear a new sound, have another experience, all of these things are making impressions, making new neural pathways in their beings.
Claudia Welch: And puberty, there's a massive pruning, and the pathways that they use the most are saved, and the pathways that they don't use much are pruned off, because it takes an enormous amount of the body's resources to keep all of these neural pathways going. And the nucleus basalis turns off, this part of the brain that allows for new impressions to be made is turned off. And it's only turned on after puberty in certain situations. Back to that in a moment. So what happens is that it's almost like in early childhood, all these impressions are made in wet cement, so very easily scratch out an impression, it stays there. And then at puberty, that cement hardens, and the impressions that you've got going on, they're in stone as it were. They're really entrenched at that point.
Claudia Welch: So at that point then, how do we re-pattern things that have been going on since childhood? How do we do that? What you kind of need is some kind of special magic softening serum to soften that cement, and you need that nucleus basalis to turn back on so you can make a new pattern. And what I learned was that the hormone oxytocin is the hormone that softens that cement. It softens the matrix in which impressions are made for us. It makes us more receptive to new pathways, to new patterns, to new images. So then, if we soften that cement, if we get into this receptive place, how do you increase oxytocin? Love or gratitude. And it doesn't have to be world peace kind of love. That can kind of get vague, and huge, and if you wake up in a bad mood it can be hard to get to world peace and love. That might be hard to get to.
Claudia Welch: But what is not necessarily hard to get to is appreciation for a perfect jam on your toast. Your body isn't distinguishing between loving this jam and loving the world. I mean it might at some level, but both of them will increase oxytocin, this appreciation, this gratitude. Even if we can't come to love, maybe we're in a too bad a mood to come to love, but we can usually come to gratitude for something, even gratitude for the nice jam, or a cup of tea, or something like that, some kind of morning thing that we can do for ourselves to awaken that oxytocin. That makes us more receptive to a new impression. Then what we need is that nucleus basalis to come back on. And one of the ways that we can do that is very, very simple, it's just focusing.
Claudia Welch: And I think that this is one of the reasons why so many meditations have a very strong focus aspect. You focus somewhere. So, focusing on that practice, focusing on that visualization, focusing on something, and not thinking of it as so much for me as, let's create a new pattern, but let's soften what's there that's not serving us anymore. Because I'm a little hesitant to decide to create a new pattern with the same brain that has screwed before. So rather, what can we unbecome rather than what can we become? What can we let go of that isn't serving us? To me this is a medicine of subtraction, which is sometimes more powerful than the medicine of addition. We're always thinking, "What new remedy can I take for this problem? What new diet can I take to solve this problem?"
Claudia Welch: But for many of us it's, "What can I take out of my life that isn't serving me, that I don't truly enjoy in a deep way? When I look deep in my heart, is this activity that I'm engaging in, is it something I really want to be doing?" I don't mean a fleeting desire kind of way, I mean deep, why am I here? Is this what I want to be doing, kind of way. And so many of us do so many things we don't want to be doing. So throwing one of those overboard, the medicine of subtraction, letting go of the patterns that we've become that aren't serving us. Letting go of the things that we do that are making us deeply sad. When we get rid of these things, it doesn't cost any money to do that. We don't have to have a strong enough digestion to digest it. We just get rid of it, and then we see how life changes.
Claudia Welch: So I think we have this ... Coupling this love to bring oxytocin out, this focus to create new neural pathways, get rid of the things that we hate to do, all these things start improving our lives, and our lives change, because of what's happening in the new birth of every day.
Tahnee: Your teacher was right all along, I guess. I do find that a lot of the time you look at what the traditions say, that loving kind of [inaudible 00:31:38] meditation, all of these techniques kind of woven through [crosstalk 00:31:43] Then eventually, the science will come around and says, "Yeah actually, there's an explanation or an understanding." I mean, you do that a lot, you sort of bridge these traditional and modern worlds. Is that something ... How did you end up moving into that sort of contrast? Because a lot of people I find in the TCM or Ayurvedic worlds kind of stay a little bit out of sight.
Tahnee: So you know, yeah, that's something that really attracted to me. [inaudible 00:32:10] the language of yin and yang with the hormones, and that was the first time I'd ever heard it presented like that, and it made so much sense [inaudible 00:32:19] There's a guy called Daniel [inaudible 00:32:21] he talks about that as well, [inaudible 00:32:24] being the yang, hormone of the liver, for example. And I just think that's just a really ... for me, really simple way of understanding some of the complex biology that goes on.
Claudia Welch: Yeah, I love yin and yang in terms of explaining complex biology. In Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, they're very allopathic systems. We treat hot with cold, we treat light with heavy, and so we might as well treat complicated with simple. The more complicated an idea, how can we simplify that so that we can stand back and have that be practical? And why did I go down that way? I think the answer might be as simple as making this up, because I don't know why I did. But I think the answer might be as simple as curiosity. I was always curious about reality, whether it presented itself in language of TCM, language of Western science, or language of Ayurveda.
Claudia Welch: Reality [inaudible 00:33:14] know that it's separated into these three different systems. Reality is just reality. And I think that the three different systems often give us different lenses through which we can view phenomena. And one lens might be more elegant for one purpose than another. For example, when we talk about hormones, the first hormone-like substance wasn't discovered until 1902. This is a very new conversation. And Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, they don't talk about hormones. But what they do give us is lenses through which to view the phenomena, and explore the phenomena of hormones, which is very useful. Because in Western medicine, what does it tell us about hormones? It tells us where a certain hormone is made, and where it goes in the body, and the effect that it has when it gets there. And this other hormone is made here, and goes there, and does this. And this other hormone is made here, and goes there, and does this. And there's so many of them.
Claudia Welch: So, why are they doing that? It doesn't really say. It just says what they're doing. For me, one of the reasons I started looking at Western science with hormones is, so many people would come into my practice and talk about hormone problems. And my background in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, neither one of them addressed it really, in a way that was sufficient for me, I'll say, that was practical and encompassing of what I was seeing. And so, the only place I could go was Western science to explore this more. And I trusted that Eastern medicine, whether it was Chinese medicine or Ayurveda would probably have an elegant lens through which to view this reality. But I needed to get in there and muck around with it long enough to know which lens was going to be most elegant.
Claudia Welch: Oh my gosh, I studied hormones ... My life was hormones for a while, just studying all these things. And it was so overwhelming, and it was sometimes contradictory, and I just looked at it, and looked at it, and looked at it. And you know those paintings that you see that have some recurring pattern in it, and you look at it long enough, and you're supposed to see a ship, and you don't see the ship, and you don't see the ship, and you don't see the ... And then you see the ship. And once you see it, you can't unsee it. And it was like that. It was like all these little patterns, hormones. And I thought, "Oh my God, you can sort these into yin and yang." And I thought, "Oh, is it that easy? Could it be that easy?"
Claudia Welch: And then I took it back to the drawing board and looked at it all over again in terms of which were yin, and which were yang, and what they were doing, and how they related, and where they would meet. And the further I went into it, the more profoundly that lens worked. It works on the subtle aspects of how duality interacts with each other, and how hormones interact with each other. It's just an incredible combination to look at Western science and to organize it from an Eastern medicine perspective. And one of the things I've found in the work done with this over the decades is that MDs really love this. When they get into a women's health course with me or something, they really love it, because they have all those Western pieces that don't all go together, like why is this happening, and predictability.
Claudia Welch: In the Western side of things, you can't predict what's going to happen with them. You can just say what is happening. But if you put this Eastern perspective on it, you can organize all that seemingly disparate information into something that not only makes sense in the present, but you can also understand why it's happening, and what's likely to happen if X happens. So, MDs have all of the different pieces, and this allows them to sort it into a more practically usable framework.
Tahnee: So is this the kind of stuff that would be in the course that you're going to have on your site?
Claudia Welch: Yes.
Tahnee: I think for the people ... That's what I think is ... We're in such a privileged time right now that there's so much that people can actually go educated to the doctor, or their health practitioner, and start to have more informed conversations, and I just think people have that foundation themselves to actually have some context to what they're seeing. Because I think when people get their tests, [inaudible 00:37:18] and where do I focus on this particular area. Yeah, I think the more people can self-educate and then go and have an informed conversation, not just be prescribed something.
Tahnee: We've spoken a lot on this podcast about the birth control pill. I'm sure it's the same in The States, but it's overprescribed in Australia, and causing so many issues with women down the track. I saw something the other day saying it's one of the biggest uncontrolled studies that we've ever done on women's health, and probably an unsuccessful one. Yeah, I think when we put in an artificial hormone situation, how does that affect that yin yang balance? That must really take it offline, right?
Claudia Welch: I could talk about that a long time, and I know we've kind of hit the end of our time here. But I talk about that a lot in the Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life book. And if you go through the Table of Contents, you'll see in Part One I talk about it. Part One kind of sets up the whole conversation, and then the kind of obvious chapters that are associated with that. I talk about that. But one thing I'll say is that hormones are incredibly responsive to our thoughts, to our environments, to our experiences. Thought creates biology. So the second we have a comforting thought, our chemistry changes. The second we have a stressful experience, our chemistry changes. And as our chemistry changes, our chemical needs change. To introduce an external hormone into the system, one of the big challenges with that, we never have the same hormonal need.
Claudia Welch: And a hormonal substance that we're taking is X number of milligrams of something. That's a specific amount. And if we under or overestimate the amount we're going to need, that's where side effects come in, if we don't have enough or we have too much. That's one of the places where side effects come in. This is even with bioidentical hormones, right? Hormones that have the same molecular structure as our own. We like to think that that's going to be wonderful because it might be the same structure, but it's a shot in the dark that it's going to be exactly the right amount that we're going to need in any given moment, because our needs change all the time. It's much better if we can create an environment internally that our own bodies respond to the needs with the correct amount of hormone.
Tahnee: Which kind of comes back to what we were talking about in the beginning, [inaudible 00:39:47] create the conditions, the environment will always overwhelm us unless we can create the conditions to [inaudible 00:39:54] I think that's what I love about your work and what you offer. And so, we will wrap up because I know you have time restraints. I wanted to just remind everyone, so you've got your books, but you're going to have an online course on your website really soon.
Claudia Welch: In September, God willing, September of 2019, we'll have two women's health courses that will kind of be back to back. The first one probably about ten hours of video. But it's really packed, it's for anybody whether you're an MD, you've never heard of hormones before, you're an Ayurvedic practitioner, Chinese medicine, for anybody. And this is kind of the culmination. I've been teaching this stuff for decades around the world, and so this is the first time that it will be so comprehensively online. The first ten hours or so will be a course for everybody, and then there'll be a five-hour video course that is really geared towards Ayurvedic practitioners.
Tahnee: [inaudible 00:40:49] Ayurvedic course on your site as well, for anyone who's interested in that, correct?
Claudia Welch: Yeah, we have a Foundations of Ayurveda 1, and Foundations of Ayurveda 2, and they're both really foundations. Go into the vocabulary of Ayurveda, and then physiological, anatomical organization of the body according to Ayurveda. And they're very in-depth courses. They are really geared towards someone who wants a very in-depth introduction to Ayurveda. If you're wanting to know how to eat, and what constitution is, and how to apply that to your yoga practice, this is probably not the right ... It takes some work, but it's laid out very clearly with lots of handouts and so forth. This is like the worst sales pitch ever, right? Don't [inaudible 00:41:30] This is a lot of work. But if that's what you want, I think it is a wonderful resource.
Tahnee: Well and I think that's what's so great about your work. I think it was at least eight or nine years ago that I first got a hold of one of your books, and what I knew then to what I know now, and I re-read it recently and I'm like, these are things we keep building upon, and building upon. The receptivity and these things they evolve over time. That's just a part of living, and there'll be people that are really interested in going deeper. I know a lot of people have that superficial awareness of Ayurveda, and I think I'd really like to see that shift. Someone told me the other day that there was no yin and yang in Ayurveda, and I was like, I've read about it.
Claudia Welch: So, of anybody wants to know what yin and yang is in Ayurveda, this is really, really important. It's brahmana and langhana. And there's even synonyms for that which is santarpana and [inaudible 00:42:20]. And it's exactly yin and yang. It's so ...
Tahnee: It's like Shiva Shakti. These are really basic foundations.
Claudia Welch: Right. But I will say that [inaudible 00:42:30] Shiva Shakti, those don't exactly correlate with yin and yang. They don't exactly. So when people try to do that, they find that it doesn't quite fit, if you go to that level of philosophy. But definitely, brahmana and langhana. And it's very interesting how in Ayurveda, even pretty seasoned practitioners, this may not have been emphasized in their training, because there's other ways to look at things. So maybe they look at things from a more doshic perspective, or from an elemental perspective, but they haven't translated that and worked with that from this dual perspective. But it's definitely there in the classics.
Tahnee: I think that's such a great framework in terms of phenomena and how we relate to them. So your website is drclaudiawelch.com, but we'll have show notes with everything in there as well, so you've also got [inaudible 00:43:21] so anyone who wants to can connect with you. But I really wanted to thank you for your time. I know how busy you are, and I really appreciate you making the space for us.
Claudia Welch: It's my [crosstalk 00:43:31] and I hope your daughter sleeps well tonight, and that your early motherhood is a joy, and that you get the rest that you need and are able to recreate that experience of being in your little cabin, to some degree or another, when possible.
Tahnee: You know I think when you have a child, you start to become ... I'm quite possessive about my rest time. [inaudible 00:43:53] at this point in my life. So [inaudible 00:43:56] I'm going to get some rest. Thank you.