K. Michael Ferranti along side Hindu Saddhus
About K. Michael Ferranti: A medically trained professional, integrating both eastern and western medical traditions for over a decade. A licensed allopathic, Physician Associate/Assistant for the past 15 years, after many years of practice, K. Michael realized that he wanted to concentrate on the inner healing of his patients and felt a strong link between the “diseased” physical body with the imbalances of the mind and spiritual bodies. There was a symbiotic relationship between them. So, being frustrated with the restrictions of western medicine, K. Michael was in search of a real immersive, traditional Ayurvedic program in the US. This lead him to The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, in Lenox, Massachusetts. He attended the first class of The Kripalu School of Ayurveda, an 18 month comprehensive Ayurvedic Medical training. Highlights of his Ayurvedic gurukula education included being taught by great Ayurvedic vidyas (Ayurvedic teachers) such as Dr. Vasant Lad, Dr. John Douillard, Dr. Robert Svoboda, Dr. Shekar Annambhotla, Dr. Jay Apte, and Dr. Sunil Joshi.
In March 2007, K. Michael studied in India with world renowned Ayurvedic Physician, Dr. Partap Chauhan at Jiva Ayurvedic Institute, completing course work on ‘Ayurveda and Incurable Diseases.’ At the Jiva Institute, he learned the interconnection between the body, mind, and spirit and how they affect the disease process. Concentrating on the emotional and spiritual bodies to heal the physical body, “Dr.Chauhan taught us the ways to heal “chronic, incurable diseases”, focusing on various Ayurvedic healing modalities, such as herbal preparations, lifestyle and diet recommendations, herbalized massage, panchakarma (detoxifying and cleansing treatments), yogic and breathing techniques, and developing a connection to your spiritual body”.
His introduction to a life of spiritual growth and enlightenment started as a very young child. Thanks to his parents, he was initiated with a mantra into the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at age 6. Then when he was a young adult, K. Michael volunteered as a missionary in Russia, as he was invited there by the Patriarch of Moscow. Travelling around Russia, he taught the New Testament, in small villages where religion was forbidden by the Communist government. “My heart was awakened while witnessing these suppressed people with such an eagerness to have spirituality in their bleak lives. The year was 1991, I witnessed the fall of Communism. This experience was paramount to my spiritual journey. Studying the Bhagavad-Gita and being Krishna conscious at a young age, spiritual growth through various Vedic texts, Buddhist Eastern thought, and Christian mysticism became central to my life. Since I was young, I was always in search of my “truth” and found solace in finding it through the development of my spiritual body, knowing I needed to detach from the attachment of the material world.”
Receiving Darsan from Amma Ji
LM: Western medicine generally relies on established scientific authority. What is the source of authority in Ayurveda?
KMF: Ayurveda, being the oldest, most traditional form of “medicine” as we know it today, relies on our instinctual insight to heal ourselves with the gifts of Mother Earth, that have been used for centuries and taught to many other cultures and civilizations by the Indians. If one consciously trusts in the power of self-healing and surrenders the power over to themselves to heal, then the healing process will naturally start the transformational process of homeostasis (bringing the body to a healthy state). The body does not like being sick, injured, imbalanced, or in pain. The plant kingdom that Mother Earth has blessed us with to sustain life, has a vibrational healing energy, that cannot be duplicated by a “lab tested” small white pill, produced in a cold lab somewhere, or one in which Western culture has become addicted to. Especially when it comes to herbal therapies, not only do the herbs receive the energy of the Mother Earth and the Sun feeding it, but the people harvesting and preparing the herbs are praying over the herbs, infusing them with a lot of heart grounded loving energy, to maximize their healing effect, even before being ingested. Therefore, the source of authority in Ayurveda is your own body’s ability to heal itself by using the gifts that Mother Earth graciously gave us, to help with the process. I always tell my clients to “open their hearts up and trust in the process”. Scientifically, Ayurveda is evidence based medicine, because we know that it cures and heals, as has been proven over the centuries. Western medicine is research based medicine and is very objective, while Ayurveda is so subjective, which proves the beautiful unique makeup of each individual person.
LM: What is Gotham Ayurveda and is it’s purpose?
KMF: Gotham Ayurveda was created to convey awareness of what the sacred gifts of Ayurveda an bring to the body, mind, and consciousness. By integrating both Eastern and Western medical traditions, the holistic medical approach I employ brings about overall well-being, balance, prevention of disease, and longevity. As an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Educator, trained in the USA and India, I create a sacred space for each individual to become more conscious of their own health and body, so that they can then take control in their own healing process. In the consultation session, centuries old Ayurvedic principles aim to create a change in the mind and body, through diet and lifestyle recommendations, detoxification and Ayurvedic herbal remedies for specific health issues. Other holistic modalities such as breathing and relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, iridology, reflexology, aromatherapy, and reiki are incorporated into each session. We work together with the goal of bringing balance, which is beneficial for a healthy life. The purpose of Gotham Ayurveda is to raise the body, mind, and soul to higher levels of consciousness so that each individual can take an active role in their own healing.
LM: Can you share with us some of the key holistic benefits of Ayurveda?
KMF: Some of the holistic benefits of Ayurveda include: promoting relaxation, assisting the body in eliminating toxins and free radicals, balancing energy flow throughout the body, improving lymphatic drainage, improving circulation, enhancing digestion, reducing pain, stress, anxiety, and depression, stimulating the immune system, enhancing restful sleep, promoting general health and well-being, and accelerating the normal healing process. Overall, the most important benefit of Ayurveda is to relearn how to love yourself, by listening to your body and nurturing the awareness through diet and lifestyle.
LM: How did you originally get interested in Ayurveda?
KMF: I have always had an interest in the ancient, sacred texts of Eastern philosophy called the Vedas and also in medicine, so my awareness of the healing capabilities of Ayurveda was always in my consciousness. But, I really got interested in Ayurveda after many years of practicing western allopathic medicine and realizing there was no “true” healing taking place in my patients. I felt like I was just a drug pusher and I was just treating the physical body and symptoms, without addressing how much the imbalances of the mind and spirit bodies played a role in the progression of a disease process. So having an awareness and true understanding of Ayurveda for a long time, I realized that I needed a formal education in Ayurvedic Medicine. During Ayurvedic school and now in my Ayurvedic practice, I really learned that I am NOT the healer but that I empower my clients to heal themselves, through self-realization. This is an egoless way to live and practice medicine. In western medicine, the doctor takes that power away from their patients by making them believe that they are powerless over their own healing and then it becomes a ‘do as I say’ relationship, which is purely an ego based practice of medicine. It is our God given right to be in control of our own health and mortality. Western medicine has robbed that away from us. Although, I do feel Western medicine has a great place in our system, especially in the avenues of acute illness or trauma/surgery and for research…I need to give credence where credence is due.
LM: You studied in India with world renowned Ayurvedic Physician Dr. Partap Chauhan, at Jiva Ayurvedic Insititute, completing course work ‘Ayurveda and Incurable Diseases’ – can you tell us a bit more about what this experience taught you, how you have incorporated what you learned at Jiva into your current practice with Gotham Ayurveda?
KMF: My experience learning from Dr. Chauhan at Jiva was transformational and transcendental. He approaches Ayurveda and healing, straight from the heart and is egoless. Studying with Dr. Chauhan at The Jiva Ayurvedic Institute was the turning point in my Ayurvedic training. We had daily Ayurvedic workshops on Ayurvedic theory and Vedic philosophy, preparation and use of herbal remedies, cooking pure vegetarian food, and a daily Panchakarma practicum, while reviewing client cases. Although Western medical diseases/disorders are considered “chronic and incurable”, for the most part, every illness can be cured, unless, karmically, it is your time to transition. Dr. Chauhan is one of the few Ayurvedic experts working with an ancient form of Ayurvedic medicine called Rasa Shastra. It is the combination of compounds such as gold, emerald, mica, asbestos, magnetic iron ore, sulphur, mercury, and others, which are reduced to fine substances and exposed to high temperatures. Then these now reduced materials are combined with either herbal decoctions / extractions or other substances, to treat serious illnesses. Each substance has a specific treatment of purification assigned to it, rendering it safe for human consumption. He has much success with his prescribed Ayurvedic treatments and people come from all over the world to see him. I love that he has dedicated his whole life to the human experience, through Ayurveda.
LM: Can you explain a little more about the three doshas — Pitta, Kapha and Vata — which, in combination, make up the constitution of each individual?
KMF: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are such a unique way of looking at the energies of the physical, mental, and spiritual attributes of everything alive. I really received an expansive understanding about the way the beautiful, unique human body functions, through understanding the three doshas (called Tridosha). The Vata, Pitta, Kapha concept is based on the 5 element theory, that everything in the Universe is composed of a combination of ether, air, water, fire, and earth, respectively. So, we are in direct sync with Mother Nature through these five elements. They are the lifeline between all the higher and lower life forms, and that makes us no so different, except for the intellect. When these elements become imbalanced, because of improper diet, lifestyle choices, lack of a spiritual connection to a higher power, then our body and minds become imbalanced, letting disease set into every morsel of our being.
LM: Once an individual’s constitution is understood, how, then, how does the healing take place?
KMF: Once an individual’s constitution is understood, I enlighten the person to be more “conscious” about their imbalances and empower them to take action. This could be in the form of recommending herbal remedies, lifestyle changes, dietary changes, yoga asana, meditation/breathing techniques, or just being still. It can be as simple as educating them that they need to first look at how their misuse of their senses and intellect is the causation of their own disease process. It is about self-awareness and then taking action. Action, reaction, and then action to heal. Real self-empowerment!! Most of the physical diseases or imbalances are due to our minds becoming imbalanced because we subject our over-stimulated senses to toxic situations and information that is constantly being fed to us through the media, TV, newspapers, government, etc.. These negative influences definitely have a wear and tear effect on our consciousness/minds, causing our agitation and then we take on addictive behaviors of our senses, as an escapism. It is a vitiation of the mind. There is no escaping it unless you live on an ashram, spiritual commune, or set up a sacred space and time in your daily life to help cope. So, if we realize this and start taking an active role in nurturing and nourishing a healthy lifestyle and setting up a sacred space within our environments, we will be much happier and healthier.
LM: How do you go about finding out what’s wrong with a patient who comes to see you for a consultation?
KMF: This is done by a complete, comprehensive health history, collecting personal data about their lifestyle, diet, past and present medical history, family history, their social interactions with others, their quality and quantity of stress, their family life as a child, food intake and elimination history, sleep history, and just life experiences. This helps me to really get at the core of the issues they present with. Not just seeing everyone as a ‘non-individual’ as sometimes, patients are seen in Western, allopathic medicine. From my Western medical background and experiences in medicine, taking a comprehensive personal, social, family history is an essential part of the consultation. Also, pulse diagnosis, tongue, nail and eye examination are performed to confirm what doshic imbalances are behind the complaints they present with. But overall, I think just being silent and letting the client share their story is the most powerful tool to really understand what is happening in their heart. Most people never feel fully heard when they go to the doctor and I have realized that just spending as much time with the client, giving them the sacred time to share their pains, joys, sorrows, helps with their energetic healing, even before I give them any recommendations.
LM: What can patients expect during their first consultation session with you?
KMF: During the first consultation, I give my clients an understanding of what imbalances and balances are going on with them. I tell them how toxic their organ systems are and give them some insight into how to fully develop a sense of their own truth. Because, with all said and done, it is about relearning how to love yourself and that is where the true healing begins. I see a huge will for transformation in most of my clients that come to see me. I give them constant hope and love during their interactions with me. Always concentrating on the positive aspects of their life. The Western culture we live in embraces and nurtures negativity and we have the choices to set up that sacred space and time in our lives, to breed happiness. I will give them dietary/lifestyle/herbal recommendations, along with teaching them appropriate breathing and mediation techniques for their imbalances. The most important thing though is giving my clients hope that they will heal and not take the disease process as a 5th limb. Most people in our Western culture love to talk about their disease process and actually start living and becoming that disease. I try to disengage that from them and tell them that they always have to think positive.
Ayurvedic practice of pulse assessment
LM: What information does the ayurvedic pulse assessment give you?
KMF: Pulse diagnosis is an ancient, very specialized assessment of the subtle energies of the body, mind, and consciousness. I can feel the balances and imbalances of through the pulse, the state of the organ systems, the health of the person during childhood, and their state of the mind. It is only one assessment tool that is used in Ayurveda, along with tongue, eye, and nail observation. It is a very gentle, energetically subtle and gross evaluation of the client. It also connects me to their energy, which solidifies my commitment to being a part of their healing process.
LM: What do you see as the future for ayurvedic medicine in the US?
KMF: The consciousness of Ayurveda is growing more extensively in the US. People are becoming more health conscious and are seeking out holistic modalities, as either single therapy or adjunct therapy to Western medicine. Actually, 1 in 3 people seek out holistic practitioners for their healthcare, nowadays. With the upsurgence of Ayurveda in India, it has infiltrated into the US medical system, with more and more spas and holistic centers/practitioners offering Ayurvedic treatments, such as Shirodhara. This is a great, relaxing yet therapeutic treatment by which warm herbalized oil is gently streamed onto the 3rd eye (the Ajna Chakra- the gate that leads within, to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness), and forehead to relax the mind, therefore bringing healing to the body. There are many well-established Ayurvedic training programs and more new programs opening up in the US, offering a comprehensive formal education in Ayurveda Medicine, including classes such as herbal pharmacology, detoxifying treatments, Sanskrit, Yogic/Vedic philosophy, resulting in a certification in Ayurvedic Medicine. There is well-organized Ayurvedic association called NAMA, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, that has a governing body that oversees the growth and awareness of Ayurveda in the US, with thousands of members.
Click below to view this introductory video on Shirodhara and its benefits.
LM: How do you incorporate yoga into the ayurvedic treatments you provide your clients with?
KMF: I want to start with the Pantajali’s Second Yoga Sutra, “yogas citta vritti nirodhah”. The meaning of this sutra is so profound. It states that Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence. This is a great summation of what yoga has to offer for anyone with a daily yogic practice. Since our mind is always being agitated because of our senses being constantly subjected to over stimulation, overtime this results in disease of the physical body, so a consistent yogic practice is essential for staying healthy, on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Asana or the Yoga positions have been used for centuries to balance and join the body, mind, and spiritual. Since, we are so disconnected from our spiritual bodies in our Western culture, Yoga is a great way to bridge the gap and help unify us with our truth. I recommend Yoga for every client, in my Ayurvedic practice and also with my patients I see in my Western medical practice, as well.
Practice of Panchkarma
LM: Do you use Panchkarma to treat your clients? Can you share with our readers what Panchkarma is and the benefits of it?
KMF: Panchkarma (“five actions” in Sanskrit) are a set of rejuvenative, cleansing and detoxifying treatments for the body and mind. Because these treatments are pretty intensive there is a preparation phase called Purvakarma. The goal of Purvakarma is to prepare the body tissues for cleansing and release of toxins. One to three weeks before the actual cleansing phase, elimination of all processed foods, sweets, stimulants such as coffee, and most dairy products from your diet, is recommended. Then Panchkarma (the cleansing phase) can be administered which consists of Nasya (nasal and sinus cleansing by the application of herbalized oil into the nasal passages), Basti (herbalized enemas to cleanse the large intestine and colon), Virechana (purgation/use of laxatives to cleanse the small intestine), Vamana (therapeutic vomiting to cleanse the stomach, lungs and esophagus), and Raktamoksha (cleansing of the blood by blood-letting). These five purification procedures are great for removing accumulated toxins and other waste materials in the body. I do recommend clients get Panchkarma at least once per year, depending on how sick they are. There are a few places I recommend, depending on their time and budget. Since, I studied at Kripalu, I often recommend my clients to do Panchkarma there because they will be assured a wholesome cleansing and detoxifying program, with the supervision and expertise of my senior Ayurvedic teachers.
Practicing Daily Meditation Relieves Stress
LM: Can you share three ayurvedic tips with our readers on dealing with stress, anxiety, daily life?
KMF: So, some great tips include:
- Keep your digestive fire stoked by eating your largest meal during the hours of 10am and 2pm when the sun is at the highest. This will help digest your food easier and turn your food into nutrients instead of toxins and stored fat.
- Daily self-body massage (Abhyanga in Sanskrit) with non toasted, sesame oil or almond oil…This helps to moisturize the skin, move toxins out of the body, stimulate the immune and lymphatic system, and most importantly it is an act of self love to massage your own body. It is a full body anointing. Do it after a warm shower and you can add your favorite essential oil into the oil, like lavender, ylang-ylang or sandalwood, to name a few.
- Save some sacred time for yourself by meditating daily for 20 minutes, whether it is using a calming prayer or mantra like OM or a silent meditation, concentrating on the breath.
- Keep positive and be grateful everyday that you are alive…Don’t concentrate on negative thoughts and behaviors.
K. Michael will be hosting a fund raising event, in the form of a silent auction, with food and music, at East West Living Galleries/Himalayan Institute (newly the Alex Grey “CoSM” galleries) on Saturday, April 4th, 2009, from 7pm to 10pm. If you are in NYC, please come down and join us. The silent auction items will include various deity statues, large healing crystals, spiritual books, framed photography, jewelry, candles, CD’s, DVD’s, spa certificates, spa getaways, and much more…
his is a beautiful humanitarian cause to help support the over 400 people and families of the Mumbai Massacre, which took place in November of ’08. K. Michaell is associated with a large hospital in Mumbai, The Bhaktivedanta Hospital, and the funds raised will be allocated for the physical, emotional and spiritual rehabilitation of the victims/families and to set up programs for post-traumatic stress syndrome, of which there is none at this time. Your support can be by donating a service or item from your organization, tax deductible, for the silent auction table. To find out more, click here.
K. Michael has been blessed to have taken The Art of Living Foundation Course (Prananyama and Sudarshan Kriya) with H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and received Darshan from Amma Ji Mata Amritanandamayi Devi in the US and India, and Mother Meera. Also receiving the “Saraswati Mantra” initiation from Amma Sri Karunamayi. K. Michael is now an active member of ISKCON and aspiring initiation by HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj, as a Krishna devotee.
Having recently appeared on the Martha Stewart “Morning Living,” Sirius Satellite radio show, K. Michael is now spreading the consciousness of Ayurveda. He also, recently lectured on “Self-Healing through Self-Realization: An Ayurvedic Approach,” aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line and continues to give presentations on Ayurveda in the New York City metropolitan area. K. Michael has had the fortunate experience of treating celebrity, Rosie O’Donnell with Ayurveda, with great success. He also worked with her, teaching her meditation, and setting up an altar to Lord Ganesh in her NYC apartment, for her daily sadhana.
K. Michael has been graced with teaching Ayurvedic Medicine and Yogic Philosophy to various Yoga Teacher Trainings’, in the New York metropolitan area, as well as graduating, as a Yoga Teacher, from Sadie Nardini’s, Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training Intensive. He currently gives lecture/workshops on Ayurvedic Healing and sees clients at East West Living/Himalayan Institute on 5th Avenue in New York City.
To reach K.Michael Ferranti, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Educator/Yoga Teacher, feel free to email him via his website at:email@example.com