Light on Ayurveda Journal

Book Review

Light on Ayurveda Journal

Volume IX, Issue 1, Fall 2010

Body Renewal: The Lost Art of Self-Repair

Author

Jay Glaser, MD

Publisher

Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, WI, 2010

Reviewed by Genevieve Ryder, B.S.,R.N.,D.Ay.

The book I have long awaited is finally published, and I have the pleasure of reviewing it before it arrives at the local bookstore. Through the years, I have enjoyed reading Dr. Glaser’s articles since they provide a fresh perspective on the subject of attaining and maintaining health. This book provides valuable information on the comprehensive management of the most important chronic diseases, but from the perspective of the profound principles of Vedic medicine, rather than tridosha theory. Instead, it is based on Vedic principles of effortlessness and naturalness, and awareness of the body’s intelligence, messages, rhythms, and environment.

Deepak Chopra’s introduction flows like the symphony of life —the song of the Vedas that Dr. Glaser identifies as the field of self-repair itself — and that even today underscores all cultures. Dr. Chopra acknowledges the depth of study and practice that have gone into the writing of Body Renewal and points out that you do not need an Ayurvedic education to access its wisdom, although there is much to be gained by those versed in Ayurveda.

It is a pleasure to see the art and science of Ayurveda woven into clear, well-documented text in a captivating manner. Dr. Glaser unravels complex topics for the reader and offers stories and anecdotes in the yogic tradition. All of the information on specific diseases follows the strong foundation on self-repair built in the first 15 chapters.

The book itself is clearly presented. The table of contents is organized so that one can easily choose the precise topic of interest. The basics of prevention according to the Vedas are discussed in the initial chapters where the process of self-repair is outlined and colorfully explained. For example, in chapter two,

“If sedentary habits, overindulgences in rich foods, lousy genetics, a fondness for tobacco, the ravages of time, and plain bad luck conspire to plug your vessels with cholesterol-laden plaque, Dhanvantari, the principle of self-interaction, has blessed your boat with life preservers: good high-density cholesterol to scavenge your nasty, foamy, low-density cholesterol;….”   p. 23

Dr. Glaser intersperses the latest scientific knowledge of western medicine with age-old wisdom, much as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had done for him in his initial explorations and study of Ayurveda. The reader never feels that what is being stated is a matter of conjecture—all is carefully backed with over 300 references and his long-time personal experience in the fields of western medicine and Ayurveda.

Dr. Glaser does not leave out the basic value of meditation as a pillar in one’s prevention and healing plan, noting that it is a change in consciousness that will effect the most profound change in one’s physiology. In the field of consciousness, one can make a small change and have it surface as a major change in the body, as a small stone causes a ripple in a still pond. Access to the field of consciousness is natural and uncomplicated, but Dr. Glaser points out that one needs to visit it frequently in daily practice in order to utilize its power.

Once the concepts and pillars of self-repair are covered, the text moves into specific chronic disorders. Chronic conditions are frustrating to western medicine as they do not respond to drugs with a “cure.” Western doctors are more satisfied performing a knee replacement and seeing the patient walk without pain than to follow patients for years for the pain and deformity of arthritis or to accompany them on the long journey of deterioration due to diabetes. Here is where the science of Ayurveda comes to the forefront—both in treatment and, most importantly, in prevention. Ayurvedic steps for prevention are relatively simple, and the same steps often work to prevent multiple diseases.

The purpose of this book, whether you are old or are concerned about getting old, can be summed up in his last line,

“you still have a job to do: discovering the song of unboundedness in this lifetime and living immortality in daily life. The secrets of self-repair have been revealed by the ancient rishis […] specifically to give you the good health and time on earth that you need to experience your cosmic nature.” p. 252

Following the treasures of the text are the comprehensive appendices, traditional Ayurvedic theory prevented as dessert and not as the main course. As with the rest of the book, these are presented with Dr. Glaser’s unique perspective.  Included are the basics of Ayurveda 101: the doshas, their imbalances and how to apply the principles of self-repair; agni, the dhatus, and recipes to improve digestion; a three-step home purification program; and seasonal routines, all compactly included in just 20 pages. The Resources chapter contains up-to-date listings of Ayurvedic books, CDs, schools, and products. This book is an essential reference that needs to be in every library.