by David McConaghay
In late April of 2018, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association held it’s 14th annual conference in Plano, Texas. I was there to serve as a volunteer, as a soon-to-be graduate of the Ayurvedic Doctor program at Alandi Ashram, and as a COLORAMA board member.
This was my first time at a NAMA conference and it was inspiring to be surrounded by an international community of Ayurveda enthusiasts and experts. Lots of people get excited about meeting famous musicians, actors or athletes. In this case, I was mildly star-struck when I asked Robert Svoboda to sign my copy of The Greatness of Saturn. Likewise, it was meaningful to share a meal with Amadea Morningstar, having enjoyed so many meals made of her recipes in the past.
After the welcome banquet on Friday night, many of the conference attendees made their way to a nearby theater to see The Doctor From India, the recently released documentary about Dr. Vasant Lad. It was poignant to watch this heart-opening film alongside so many people whose lives have been profoundly influenced by Dr. Lad.
Ayur-celebrities aside, it was of profound practical significance to meet with various members of the NAMA board and staff to explore the near and long-term potentials for Ayurveda in the United States. Of particular interest was a meeting focused on NAMA’s relationship with the state organizations.
Approximately 25 individuals from 9 states and Canada attended the meeting to discuss relevant topics about what it takes to start and maintain a state organization, what is the proper relationship between NAMA and the state associations, and of course, the pros and cons of health freedom laws and licensure.
The first outcome of this meeting is the formation of a State Organizations sub-committee whose purpose is “to support the development of state-level Ayurveda associations and to coordinate with them in order to foster community and avoid redundancy. Ideally, the committee will serve as a center of gravity, encouraging creative cooperation between states and alignment with the NAMA mission."
As it happens, I am the chair person for this newly formed committee, and very much looking forward to helping NAMA and the states work together for the benefit of Ayurveda and everyone involved.
The conference was also full of top-notch talks on panchakarma in the modern world, the Ayurvedic approach to gastrointestinal conditions, and Ayurvedic psychology. I particularly enjoyed Arun Deva’s presentation on Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy, as well as the research posters presented by two students who looked at NOAA climate data to determine appropriate rtucharya protocols for their local environments.
Even beyond the official presentations, the casual conversations between all the practitioners and life-long students were fascinating and uplifting. I came away from the conference feeling a sense of camaraderie that gives me more enthusiasm about Ayurveda in America than ever before.
Next year’s conference will be held at the 1440 Multiversity campus outside Santa Cruz, California. It promises to be a beautiful and intimate setting to explore the theme, “Ayurveda and the Mind.” I’m already looking forward to it, and hope you will consider joining us there.
From the professional and student members of Colorama