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Light Miller: 1947-2018

ISSUE:
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77

Light Miller, ND, died peacefully in her sleep in the presence of family on April 28, 2018. She was born in New York City, New York, in 1947, the daughter of an Indian diplomat. Her mother was an aromatherapist and her grandmother practiced as an Ayurvedic herbalist.

In 1988, Miller received a special Ayurvedic treatment called kaya kalpa (an anti-aging or rejuvenation treatment) from Ram Panday. During that experience, she awakened to her Ayurvedic heritage. Panday accepted her for training, and she began self-study with books by David Frawley, Vasant Lad, Robert Svoboda, and Maya Tiwari. She started an aromatherapy company and soon traveled across the United States teaching Ayurveda and aromatherapy.

Seeking deeper instruction in kaya kalpa, Miller traveled to India to train under Pancha Bai Chotai (a compatriot/physician of Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi), local herbalist and healer, former freedom fighter, co-founder of Aruli Nature Cure Center, Ayurvedic physician, and one of the few remaining kaya kalpa practitioners in the world. He accepted her as a student and she became the first female kaya kalpa practioner. Upon returning to the United States, she passed her training along to husband Bryan Miller, DC, and they added kaya kalpa to their treatments as they taught Ayurveda and aromatherapy in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

The Millers co-authored Ayurveda and Aromatherapy, published by Lotus Press in 1995. Light Miller’s relationship with Santosh Krinsky of Lotus flowered into the publication of two more books: Ayurvedic Remedies for the Whole Family in 1999 and Ayurvedic Curative Cuisine for Everyone in 2011. She also self-published a 1,000-page textbook for correspondence and classroom teaching and a handbook for panchakarma cleansing treatments. With Batool Merali, she co-authored The Divinity Within (Nourish Myself, 2017), a 12-month calendar and guide to self-development.

By 2000, Miller was a regular contributor to the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (CAAM). When the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) was formed, she was an ardent supporter and coordinated the first conference in Tampa, Florida. She served on the NAMA board of directors in 2002 and worked with Marc Halpern, DC, CAS, PKS, on the education committee. She also was a member of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). She strongly supported the licensing of Ayurvedic consulting as a profession but was disillusioned by the politics and egos involved in organizations.

In 2012, Miller founded the Ayurvedic College for Wellbeing in Sarasota, Florida, then moved it to Hollywood, Florida, in 2014. In 2015 and 2016, she taught classes both in Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 2016, the Millers moved to Rincón, Puerto Rico, and took their college online, recording more than 500 hours of Ayurveda lectures. They taught yearly panchakarma courses to more than 150 students. Miller taught that Ayurveda is an expanding discipline that took in new treatments, methods, and teachings. Traditional Ayurveda preserved the past but held no constraints for her. She continues to teach through her videos in the online incarnation of her college. She had more than 1,500 students during her teaching career.

Miller preferred to provide herbal blends taken as infusions for the various complaints of her patients. She was not an advocate of herbal capsules, as she believed cut-and-sifted herbal teas had greater potency. She believed that the use of pills and capsules was a byproduct of the British medical influence on Ayurveda. She pioneered the use of essential oils added to abyanga (massage) oil as a more effective alternative to other oil blends. Miller added the juice of wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum, Poaceae), tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum, Lamiaceae), and other herbs to her panchakarma green juice arsenal. She incorporated the kaya kalpa technique of mindful breathing into her teaching as well. Miller performed more than 1,200 kaya kalpa treatments and conducted more than 450 panchakarma programs. She also recommended a parade of gourmet vegetarian food that was spiced to heal the gastrointestinal tract as it satisfied the palate.

Miller’s symptoms of the last 10 months were largely countered with natural remedies of her own design. A contingent of possible causes were treated with mixed results, culminating with her eventual diagnosis of advanced lymphoma, for which she declined chemotherapy.

Light Miller will be missed by her family, friends, students, and patients. “Light Miller helped thousands of people in her amazing life on this planet,” wrote herbalist and nutritional consultant Brigitte Mars, who was a personal friend of Miller (email to H. Bauman, August 30, 2018). “She will forever be lovingly remembered.”

—Bryan A. Miller,
DC Instructor,
Ayurvedic College for Wellbeing
Rincón, Puerto Rico