I’d been waiting for this day for weeks: finally getting to meet the Ayurvedic Practitioner Talya Lutzker, an expert on Ayurvedic healing and cooking, and the force behind the business and blog Talya’s Kitchen.
What I wasn’t expecting when I wandered into her sunny East Side apartment, (where Lutzker likes to meet clients because she has her fully-stocked kitchen at hand), was to feel this way. There was a heavy hole in my chest, the size of a man I had believed could be the one, and who had dumped me the day before. Of course, we were still in the throes of the negotiation stage: I lied. I didn’t lie. I deserved it. I didn't deserve it. I needed my keyboard back. He was busy.
It was over, though, and the realization washed over me once again, just as I took a seat across from Lutzker. I was no match for her warm and welcoming presence, or her hazel eyes which are like two seas of compassion. Within the first three minutes, I spilled. She mopped up the pieces in a practical, empassioned little seminar on several remedies for healing your body and quelling the pain of a broken heart, Ayurvedic style:
Breakups cause grief, which, according to Ayurvedic Science, lives in the lungs. “I’m not saying that grief makes us crazy, but the stages of grief include anger and denial, and begging—you know like being desperate, thinking maybe this doesn’t have to be this way, bargaining, it’s called—those will also make the Vata mind spin out, become almost like a bird that’s flying away with all these thoughts of Why, why? No, I don’t want it, I can’t, I’m so upset... So when you’re grieving, it’s important to balance Vata,” said Lutzker.
Based on the former Ayurvedic assessment that I had a Vata imbalance (Ayurvedic medicine seeks to balance the three doshas in the body: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata), Lutzker instructed me on remedies for hydrating myself during times of grief, using rose essential oil to counteract self-loathing, and best of all, how to assuage my pain with a sweet raw dessert that wouldn't leave me feeling guilty for indulging.
"I notice, if I’m going to emotionally try to fill something with food, I personally am going to reach for desserts," she told me. "Sometimes there is no actual emotional comfort that is going to come. You have to go through the pain, there is no other choice. To go into comfort is denial, or is false, or is an addiction. But it [sugar] is something I give myself permission to indulge in [when broken hearted], more than I would ever do in the long term.”
She had that right. I was feeling hopeless and could really use a thick slab of double chocolate cake. I was conflicted though, especially after pledging allegiance to a white sugar and white flour-free diet.
Lutzker looked at me knowingly, then bounced up from her seat and rummaged in her kitchen. A minute later, she emerged with a box of Medjool dates, a jar of organic hemp seed butter, shredded organic coconut, Rose essential oil, and cardamom, the “mommy” of spices, which when we are experiencing sadness, just seems to help, she said. She then got to work putting together one of her favorite raw desserts, and a sweet temporary distraction for a broken heart: Raw Date Rolls.
Removing the pits, Lutzker spooned a generous spoonful of organic hemp seed butter into each date. Almond butter, raw tahini, cashews, and walnut butter are all healthy, high-protein ingredients that can be used instead of hemp seed butter, she said. In less than a minute she had laid out four very pretty confections that were sweet enough to replace the sinking feeling in my heart with a momentary euphoria.
Then Lutzker talked about a multitude of other healing remedies, including rubbing rose essential oil over my heart, and suggested a total body rub down with rose oil and black pepper oil, as the smell invokes a healing sense of self-love. She also suggested putting rose petals in your tea or bath.
"There's definitely sort of the American social culture thing about roses being romantic, but I mean reall, the rose, and rose petals, are so beautiful and they really are this flower that's about loving yourself. When you're in a bathtub with all of these rose petals, it really invokes self love," said Lutzker.
I had never thought of that before, but she had a point. The intoxicating smell of the rose oil she'd dabbed on my chest had a very pleasant, reaffirming effect on me, and I can't imagine being in a bathtub of rose petals and not feeling sexy and beautiful.
When dealing with grief—and grief counselors will often tell you this, too—it is important to stay hydrated, as grieving is almost always accompanied by dehydration, Lutzker informed me. She returned to her kitchen and came back with a glass jar labeled "Solé," an easily-made conconction of fermented salt and water.
It seemed counter-intuitive at first, but the intake of salt helps combat dehydration by keeping water in the body. She uncapped the Solé and added a bit to my water. It had a slightly sulfery smell and taste, but I gulped it down. According to Lutzker, adding about a tablespoon of Solé to your water each day, (and drinking lots of water), should counteract the dehydratng effects of grief.
“What you might notice is that at one point you might feel very saturated, almost like you’re swimming. At that point you’ve had enough salt, and you can take a few days off," said Lutkzer.
To make Solé: Add a tablespoon or so of high-quality salt, like pink Himalayan salt, black lava salt, or real sea salt, to a jar of water and wait 24 hours. You should see little specks of salt floating in the water, meaning that the water is fully saturated with the salt.
I left Talya's Kitchen smelling like a rose, and feeling comforted not only by the practitioner's remedies and generous advice, but by the feeling of sitting across from a compassionate individual who knew what I felt like. Her remedies refocused my attention: I was no longer dwelling on the injustices of hurtful words and accusations. Rather, I was focused on self improvement, healing and turning my crisis into an opportunity.
"The cure is feeling your feelings, and expressing them in some way. That’s journaling, that’s crying, that’s talking to friends, and not only dwelling in the sadness but letting every feeling that emerges be felt, recognized, and honored," Lutzker had said.
Later, snacking on one of the dates she had sent me away with, I poked around Lutzker's blog and found an intriguing recipe for Rosemary Infused Raw Brownies, as well as a recipe for Sweet Potato Fries and Raw Ranch Dressing, a recipe she said helped her survive her own horrible break up, and one that I'll definitely be trying.