The Courage to Slow Down

My life was changed with a foot massage.  Truly, this simple act opened the possibility of self-compassion and healing within my heart.  A moment I dedicated each day to practicing stillness and loving kindness towards myself.  All with the hopes of healing.

close up of womans hands and feet

The path I was walking was one of severe depression and immobilizing anxiety.  I looked to western medicine for assistance, and the help I received never resonated with me.  I continued to feel worse, and spent much of my time in a place of victim hood, wondering “why me?”  The methods, the medications, the talk therapy had little impact.  I was at a place of defeat, my body weight had plummeted, my hair was falling out and I was unable to sleep.  There was no joy and I was exhausted.   I needed to try something new. Maybe find an ayurvedic practitioner?  I knew nothing of Ayurveda but what did I have to lose?  My old way of life was meaningless.  The methods I had tried did not serve me. 

Finding an ayurvedic practitioner was not as easy as I imagined.  A quick google search and I was looking at three possible candidates in my county.  How could one of these people trained in an ancient healing modality help me when the best of dozens of western doctors hadn’t?  I had no criteria in choosing the woman I met with, but her wisdom and compassion would forever change the course of my life.

Her love, kindness and insight were immediately apparent.  Though her practices were unfamiliar to me I felt an ease with her.  When she explained I was out of balance, and it was possible through diet and lifestyle to return to balance, I felt liberated.  I took her suggestions and began to implement them.  Meditation and eating a diet suitable for my Dosha was paramount, but the suggestion of abhyanga (self-massage) was the catalyst for a shift in my perception.

flowers and oils

I developed an evening ritual that centered on abhyanga, the ancient ayurvedic medicine of massaging the body with oil specific for one’s constitution.  I would rub my feet with sesame oil and thank them for carrying me while sending thoughts of love and healing to that area.  The idea of full body massage was daunting.  My feet were all I could muster at that point in my life. This small ritual began the slow shifting of negative cyclical thoughts and unhealthy narratives.  It opened the door of joy just the tiniest bit and I was able to see the possibility.

I was still for a few moments each days while I gently rubbed my toes, my arches, my heels.  I was quiet long enough to hear my authentic voice, not the loudest or most forceful, but the one that rose from the depths of my being.  The one that had been drowned out by all the others I was carrying that were not my own. Sitting with my feet and focusing on my own body provided enough of a damper to the external noise that I could hear the whisper of my authenticity.  That sweet, small voice simply said, “You are enough”.

This simple act created an entire way of being.  I had talked and talked and talked about mindfulness with the plethora of mental health folks I had dealt with, but I never felt that I had good instructions on how to do it.  I understood the concept, but my practical knowledge was severely lacking. Through abhyanga I began to understand what it meant to be present and aware.  I began to apply this practice of awareness, using it to slow down in more areas of my life.

cairn on foggy lake

When I am in my garden or spaces in nature the slowing down comes very naturally. Digging my fingers through warm soil, feeling my feet rooted to earth and the grounding energy of ancient trees provides a sense of belonging, a no-rush awareness.  Joy to be in that moment.  In these settings slowing down is natural.  Throughout day to day routine it proves more difficult.  I am filled with “busy-ness” and I am working to cultivate the ability to truly slow down. 

Ayurveda and the practice of abhyanga started me down the green path.  I was absolutely amazed at the profound effects herbs, diet and meditation had on my state of well-being.  I realized how important a whole being approach to health is and how segmented my earlier learning feels.  I felt empowered and self-sufficient as I re-awakened to an interconnectedness with the natural world.  This harmony and connection  is our legacy as humans.

apothecary bottles filled with herbs

It is this knowledge that I’ve gained and my continued learning that I draw from when I create my products.  Rooted deeply in love, all of the things I create have the intention of health and kindness within them.  Intended to encourage us all to slow down and cultivate our inner compassion.  What better time to do this then through the daily routine of body care and grooming?   It is a time when we engage in touch, and by simply directing movement of heart energy and love to areas we are tending, we can realize profound effects.

Thank you for taking the time to read about a turning point in my journey.  May you be filled with love and compassion for yourself and for all beings.  Be well.


  • Sandra Christie

    thank you for the kind reminder for all of us to slow down. We all have anxieties, and we all have busy lives whereupon we don’t necessarily take the time to take care of ourselves. As you said, it can start with a small action of compassion towards ourselves. I really appreciate you sharing with us.

  • Apryl Martinez

    Thank you all for your kindness. Jana, I am so grateful to have you as family. This article was emotionally charged for me but incredibly beneficial to return to the beginnings of my healing with some perspective.

  • Apryl Martinez

    Bridget, thank you for you kind words. I can share some information about my ayurvedic practitioner. She has moved and isn’t practicing in San Diego. There is the chopra center in Carlsbad, the Nama website lists licensed practitioners. She did recommend someone in Costa Mesa, although that is a bit far. If you want any more info feel free to email me and I can send you names.

  • Bridget

    Wow! I’ve talked to you a few times when I’ve bought your products and felt such a connection I didn’t know why. After reading your story I understand that we have very similar stories and so my soul must have recognized a similar one :) Your story is so inspiring! Although I’m not sure you can share, I’d love the info for your Ayurvedic practitioner. It sounds amazing (yet scary) but that’s part of the journey, right?

  • Jana Dieter

    You are a remarkable, courageous woman whom I am proud to claim as family. You inspire me. I love you.

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