The following episode was recorded on 22nd April, 2022.
Rest in Peace Dr. Nyarai Paweni.
Dr Nyarai was the founding director of Sage ReStorative Health, which is built on the tenets of naturopathic medicine. Her private practice focused on life-style/functional/holistic medicine in order to make a meaningful impact in the world and our lives. Sage ReStorative is all about enhancing wellness by focusing on holistic health, first prioritizing well-being in all its forms. She was also co-founder of WIRED 2 love & thrive, a social enterprise focused on mental wellness with an African sensitivity.
She amplified her work through the Natural Therapist Council of Zimbabwe (NTCZ) and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe. (TMPC) and George Fleming House hostel for girls boards. And if you want to learn more, check out her work with the Councils. In addition to the many collaborative workshops, they've been featured on radio, online and print media. She was a seeker by nature, lover of laughter, words, meditation, music, dancing, travel, concerts/festivals, markets, nature, family/community – and very serious about tea and chocolate!
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Makadini, Salibonani, Hello and Happy New Year everyone. I wish I was returning to the podcast and releasing this specific episode under much better circumstances. Alas life is very much unexpected. It is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that I must share that on January 11th, 2023, Dr. Nyarai Paweni passed on.
I have been given permission by her family to release this episode we recorded on 22nd April, 2022 in memory of her so that the whole world celebrates the life of the wonderful woman we knew.
I am choosing to release it as one part with no opening or end credits.
If you feel touched by this episode feel free to support any of the initiatives and organizations mentioned in this podcast including Dr. Nyarai’s work with the mental wellness initiative, WIRED 2 love & thrive.
Rest in Peace Dr. Nyarai. We love you and miss you.
Vongai: Welcome to another episode of ZimExcellence. Today, my guest is the founding director of Sage restorative health, which is built on the tenants of naturopathic medicine. Her private practice is focused on lifestyle functional and holistic medicine .In order to make a meaningful impact in the world and our lives. Sage restorative is all about enhancing wellness by focusing on holistic health first prioritizing wellbeing in all its forms. She's also the co-founder of Wired 2 love & Thrive. A social enterprise focused on mental wellness with an African sensitivity. She amplifies her work through the natural therapists council of Zimbabwe, the traditional medicine practitioners council of Zimbabwe and George Fleming house, a hostel for young ladies completing their [00:01:00] education, young professionals and visitors to Harare. In addition to the many collaborative workshops, Sage restorative health has also been featured on radio online and print media. And finally, she is a seeker by nature, lover of laughter words, meditation, music, dancing, travel, concerts, festivals, markets, nature, family, community, and is very serious about tea and chocolate. She she's serious about that. Y'all so please welcome Dr. Nyarai Paweni
Dr. Nyarai: Wonderful. Thank you so much for having me I'm. So looking forward to our conversation today,
Vongai: I'm so glad to have you on the show. So as you know, before we get into it, I always love to talk about origin story. So how did you get from. Being born in Zimbabwe to I want to get into holistic medicine. like, what is the, the journey of that? That's really? Oh my gosh. So first of all, where were you born?
Dr. Nyarai: I was actually born in Harare. My siblings were all born in Zambia, but I was born in Harare at Harare hospital. And then my family moved to Zambia. The first 10 years of my childhood was in Zambia. We lived in Lusaka and then we moved back to Zimbabwe. And I lived in Zimbabwe until I was 16, many, many years ago. And, I attended the Dominican convent of Harare that's where I did my O levels. And then from there I went to school in Switzerland. I went to school called college. Oh yeah. College Du Leman in Geneva, Switzerland, which was a pivotal point in my life because I got exposed to different people, different cultures. And for the very first time I was away from my family for an extended period of time. After high school, I thought I was gonna be a fashion designer then I went to the American college of London for a year, and then I moved to The U.S. I went to Concordia university and studied business there. And communication and lived in a town called Ann Arbor, Michigan. It's best known for the Wolverines and university of Michigan.
Vongai: I'm hearing, there are a lot of Zimbabweans in Michigan and I'm like, is it not cold? Y'all it is
Dr. Nyarai: freezing. It is freezing. And then I moved. So I did, and then I did my master's in, in Michigan, in International management and marketing and then moved to Chicago, even colder place . Lived in Chicago and Chicago has got such a special spot in my heart. I love, love, love, love the city. I it's really grounded me. It's a place where poetry slam started. There are some, you know,
Vongai: I didn't know that
Dr. Nyarai: mm-hmm Obama's from there. Kanye's from there. Common. It's very rich, culturally lots of festivals, which really resonated with me. Walks by the lake. So while living in Chicago, I was doing marketing and then became a director for a nonprofit organization called Lekotek. It's a Swedish organization that works with children with special needs. . And then at that point I decided to go to medical school to be a naturopathic doctor. It was such a far away dream for me because I wasn't the best in sciences and math. I was a writer. I liked words and I still love words.
Vongai: That's me.
Dr. Nyarai: That's you?
Vongai: We're the same person.
Dr. Nyarai: We are the same person. And I had started taking some I took some classes on herbs. I started reading different types of books and I worked on different healing options for myself and my, then also my mother and she had come to visit us and I had bought, I got deep into meditation. And so seeking my own center, you know, trying to figure out who am I, what should I be doing to make me happy. You know, it's sometimes you have everything that you design your life, but they still something that you're needing to fill that void with. And so that got me into you know, learning meditation. Learning mindfulness .Learning about eating well. And Chicago completely exposed me to all different types of healing modalities and there were lots of bookstores. So a slew of stuff of herbs. After reading an article in the Essence magazine about upper respiratory infections, cuz I kept on having them and I wasn't getting any better mm-hmm and then a group of my friends and I, we would meet once a month and would have something called Girls Night Out and would have intense conversations about what is your life purpose? What do you wanna do with your life? We also talked about our boyfriend issues and relationships and career as you do, as you do
Vongai: goddess talk,
Dr. Nyarai: I know goddess talk. I love that. And from those conversations we all did this exercise where you wrote your older self, a letter, like what would you tell your older self about you in your life? What are the regrets you have? What are the things that you want to do? And my letter was like, you know, if I, if I could do anything with, without worrying about money, What would that be? And it kept on coming to some form of healing modalities. I'd been dabbling into Reiki and a couple of other things I would spend hours at Borders and Barnes & Noble and reading. And then I made a decision. Yes. I want to explore this and you know, the way the universe works , the integrative practice I went to get my general, you know, annual visits, was Northwestern integrative care. It was Dr. Rabi and she had an acupuncturist there. She had a naturopathic doctor there. She had somebody doing massage and she actually recommended that I see the naturopath. And so when I went to see her, she changed my diet. And then at the same time, I got a book on natural medicine and just reading through it and then going in the back of the book, I noticed there were universities and you can get a degree. So I went to one of the sessions and lo and behold, who's talking Dr. Judy Fulop, who was the doctor who I had gone to see. It seemed like a really daunting process, but I had to go back and get all my basic sciences again, you know, looking at all the requirements that were needed. So I was taking all the classes taking two classes a semester while still going to work. And when I got to biochemistry, I was like, oh no, this, this doctor vision is not gonna happen.
Vongai: yeah, it's intimidating.
Dr. Nyarai: It was intimidating, but I had really good study partners. People would really help me. And then I got to medical school. And whoa. My first year was intense. I got accepted to three schools and I had to decide which school I wanted to go to. So I ended up staying in the Chicago area cuz, the rest of my family was there. And a dear friend of mine, he was at conventional medical school. He's like, you wanna stay close to your support network? Cuz medical school is not, is not for the, for the week and fainthearted . And my first year, you know, you I had been a really good student, school came easy to me and so I thought, oh, I can do medical school. And I was still director for the nonprofit in Chicago and managing my staff. And that's when I realized, okay, this is not working really, really it's not working cuz I wasn't doing so well in school and it's a whole different subject. The intensity of the classes and the exams and the volume of information that I had to kind of absorb. And, you know, I'm such a circular learner. I'm not a linear learner at all. You know, I, I like to tell stories,
Vongai: what do you mean by circular learning,
Dr. Nyarai: you know, so where you, you know, when people are good at memorizing, right? So they're very practical. They memorize, you know, the muscles of the hand and they just know that's how they, I want to tell a story, you know, you kind of go around, you know, you wanna understand, you know, you wanna read, you're not as efficient. And I learned all of this once I started not doing so well in school. Okay, I'm understanding, but then I'm not able to kind of do well in my tests, what do I need to do differently? So I spent a significant amount of time learning how to learn, you know, to figuring out what type of a learner am I auditory learner. So I recorded the lectures, visual learner. I had to draw and write, you know, and I also had to do kinetic learning when you're walking around. So I spent a lot of time figuring out, like, how do people who participate in those memory contests? What do they do? How do they memorize, you know, volumes of information.
So yeah, that, that really helped me out because we're never really taught how to learn really. Right. Some people are just gifted and they figure it out for themselves. But majority of people, there's no one who says Vongai, you know, you need to. read it out loud to yourself, or you need to use mnemonics, which is stories, right. You just stumble until you figure out, okay, I did this for this test and I did well, or I'm retaining the information. So, yeah. So I had to kind of, it was a lot of soul searching. I said medical school was a spiritual journey and it was a journey of self awareness, right. To figure out that I cannot learn if I'm only getting three hours of sleep, that's, that's not how I function. So here I was with younger people, I was much older. I was in my forties when I went to medical school. So, you know, my, my peers would stay up and do all nighters. And I realized, okay, that's not working for my brain. I need to sleep. And then I had to do research on, you know, What are the benefits of sleeping? So, yeah, it's been a long journey.
Vongai: Thank you for all that. You have shared so much, it's all the gems. You and I are quite similar when it comes to sleep, because people will ask me, how are you able to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep? And I'm like, I prioritize it because I cannot function if I don't have it. I can be, you know, the bubbly person people know me to be, but if I'm on like two or three hours of sleep, I'm your worst enemy. So I feel you on the sleep. What does being Zimbabwe mean to you?
Dr. Nyarai: Wow. I think what I've come to realize. I was, I left Zimbabwe at the age of 16 and now I'm 55. I, I always say moving to America made me more Zimbabwean. Because once I was away from home, I started missing things that you kind of take for granted, you know, the music, the food, the people, the things that we, you know, the little sounds we make when we are dancing and how people just visit each other. So what does it mean to be Zimbabwean? To be a, a thread in the beautiful blanket that is rich and warm and colorful I'm actually, I'm honored to be of Zimbabwean heritage. I know there are things about our country that we probably would love to change. But at the essence of it it is melodic. It is heart. It is vibration and vibrant. And I think when I visited Chipinge and Chimanimani where my father's originally from that's my paternal homestead. And when I visited Inyanga where my mom is from, you know, I, I then got a true appreciation of wow. Zimbabwe is my home. And what amazing richness and history there is here. So. . Yeah,
Vongai: you just gave us a slam poem, that's such an honor
Dr. Nyarai: I need to practice poetry more. I need to do that more.
Vongai: I love that because you, you are deeply an artist at heart. I, I need to bring this up. I forgot to bring it up earlier, but y'all Dr. Nyarai is actually my mom's cousin's and my mom was like, oh, you have to meet this person. And then she was bringing up that you're in holistic health. I was like, where were you 10 years ago in my life, because I was going through the hair journey and talking about green beauty, this and that. People in my family are looking at me like, what are you talking about?
Dr. Nyarai: I totally feel that. Cuz even in my family, when I was like, oh, we gotta do eat more vegetables and drink more water and let's try these herbs. So I would, I was like, I would say an addict, quite passionate. So I would go into all these different health, food shops. And I would spent all my money there, you know, like loads of money, cuz every time I researched an herb or a supplement, I would then go and buy it. So my family's like, what are you doing? But we've got a revolution going don't we.
Vongai: Definitely. And, and as you were talking earlier about how medical school was such a spiritual journey for you and how you would find one book about something and then go to one specialist about something else, it kind of made me think a little bit about the Alchemist and also there's that-
Dr. Nyarai: that's my favorite book.
Vongai: That's my favorite book. You're older me.
Dr. Nyarai: I love that book.
Vongai: There's that, that I forget who said that, but it's like, when you're ready, the teacher will appear or something like that. Yes. So it sounds like you came into a point of your life where all this integrative medicine and natural healing was coming at you just when you needed it.
Dr. Nyarai: Yes, very true. And the universe and God. answered. Yes. Once I said, yes, I'm going to medical school. You know, once I said, I'm quitting my full-time job. I, you know, I'm not gonna have a salary. But I can tell you without a doubt, my faith increased because people helped me. They brought me books, you know, even when I went on interview to one of the universities in Portland, Oregon, I met these young women in the hallway and they thought I was coming to interview to be a professor. And I'm like, no, I haven't even started school. But do you know, these women sent me their books. They helped me when I couldn't understand my biochemistry and my other classes and I'm still friends with them. And I had, you know, people. just give me coupons to buy food or they bought me groceries. I wouldn't be where I am without a sense of, you know, community and people just. being there for me. And I most significantly my younger sister, we live together she would help me edit my papers. She would help me study she would cook,
Vongai: it just takes a weight off you to be like, the food is already there.
Dr. Nyarai: Yes.
Vongai: I don't have to put the energy into like cooking or preparing
Dr. Nyarai: And, you know, help me, you know, buy my books or whatever, the supplies that I needed, for school. So, you know, once you decide what your purpose is and whatever that is, the minute you say yes to it, the universe, your ancestors, whatever you believe in, they will, they will meet you. You know, it reminds me of Harry Potter, you know, the nine and a half step. When you take the step step of faith, you know, mm-hmm, just know that all is aligned. If that's your passion. Yeah. The world will show you that. Yes. Go for it.
Vongai: I'm getting a couple things. So the first thing I'm getting is you take the leap and the net appears and the net is there to catch you. I'm also getting, this is when the episode turns into the spirituality. Woo, woo. Yes. metaphysical episode. But the idea of like the law of attraction yeah. That, that, like you were thinking of something and attracted another thing I've been taking this mindset course. And one of the things that we learned is, is this idea about, we talk about the subconscious minds. So I love to share this with like everyone I meet, who I talk to, or I'm close with there's this thing called the reticular activating system. Yes. It is a stem on your brain. And basically it acts as a filter because there's like. Two, I I'm gonna get the statistic wrong, but something like 2 million bits of information coming at you at all times. So you were talking to me right now, as you're talking to me, there's stuff happening outside your room. Mm-hmm , there's these painting there's stuff happening in my room. All of these stimulations are happening, but the reticular activating system manages to filter down all the 2.3, 3 million bits or whatever it is to 128 bits. And it filters it down by your values, your belief systems, your memories, how you usually do things, your triggers, your childhood wounds, which is, is very interesting.
Dr. Nyarai: Yeah.
Vongai: So you can, so you can kind of take that concept of the subconscious mind and the reticular activating system by thinking about when you think about something or your, your interested in something, your brain will find ways for you to notice it in your everyday life. and it's gonna filter out all the other stuff you don't care about. So the example my teacher uses is let's say you buy this car that you like, maybe it's like a red Lamborghini or something. Yeah. And you're driving around town and then suddenly you see a red Lamborghini everywhere. Mm-hmm and you're like, oh, what?
Dr. Nyarai: Yes.
Vongai: Does everyone have a red Lamborghini? Yeah. But it's not that you woke up and everyone bought a red Lamborghini. It's that you're noticing it because it's important to you. The other example she uses is let's say you want a red Lamborghini. But you've convinced yourself. You can never have a red Lamborghini. It's agonizing. You can never have one. That's the belief that you're telling yourself. So you're scrolling through your social media, through like Instagram, TikTok, whatever you see, someone has purchased a blue Toyota and you're like, okay, good for them. Double tap, click. I like the post and scroll, scroll, scroll. And then you see someone with a red Lamborghini and instantly you're so upset and you're just so jealous. And it's not the fact that they have the red Lamborghini. It's the fact that you told yourself that it's not possible for you. Yeah. And then seeing like when, when in that moment, instead of. Being jealous. I mean, you can express those feelings, but then you can take that as an opportunity to flip it on its head and say the fact that that person has, it means that it's possible for me.
Dr. Nyarai: Yes. Yeah. This is so serendipitous because neuroanatomy was the class that I completely loved. I failed it the first time and I thought like my world was going to completely collapse and how could I fail a class? But I actually am grateful I failed. That class neuroanatomy enabled me to retake the class and did really. That I became a tutor and it a TA a teacher's assistant. And then I also participated in writing my neuroanatomy teachers book and editing. So it, it brought me a lot of joy to kind of do well. And then to also help other students who were not doing so well in neuroanatomy, cuz that was another, the next class that people have to pass. You know, it was a Rite of passage. So having to pass that class and our professor, Dr. Darby was intense and a tough lady, but we had a really beautiful friendship and had I not failed that class, I would not have delved into knowing more about neuroanatomy and then also helping other people and other students as well. So it was it, you know, it, it brought such joy, like somebody failed and then they retake it and then they're like getting A's and B's so yeah. So the reticular activating system. Yes. I remember studying that
Vongai: Yeah. All the stuff that I learned in the mindset course is a mixture of spirituality with neurolinguistics programming.
Dr. Nyarai: Oh, fantastic. Good for you.
Vongai: It's all about the tools. What made you relocate back to Zimbabwe and how's that experience been life in Zim versus life in the U.S and obviously coming back to Zim when you're older is completely different from how you possibly idealized it or imagined it when you were younger.
Dr. Nyarai: Very very true. So moved back in 2016. Unfortunately my mom had just passed away, so I was home for her funeral and then also just to kind of work on her estate. And each time I was planning to go back, just get pulled back. I had stuff I needed to do, and not only was I grieving, but also just the challenge of being home. And I was a spoiled Chicagoan and so my first year in Zim was really, was really tough, tough on a couple of different fronts because I didn't have a social network except my family. So if my family wasn't around, I, I didn't know a whole lot of people and you know, when other people know you and you don't know them, it makes it really hard in communicating. Right. So I'll go somewhere and they'll be like, oh, we know you, your mommy used to talk about you. And I know nothing about them. So, and you know how Shona culture is like, you have sick, you have all these relatives and I would, I would get it all confused. So I would call everybody. grandpa/grandma sekuru/mbuya that was like easy for me to kind of do that, you know? And then people like, no, you're not.
Vongai: I get that? I'll call someone. Sekuru because they look older like they're in their seventies too. And they're like, that's your child. I'm like what?
Dr. Nyarai: Yeah, so my first year was really challenging. Wifi was kind of not so good and I would have to speak to my sister Tsitsi who was in Chicago. Like I had to speak to her like every day. Otherwise I would feel as if I wasn't connected. But gradually that changed. I had some pivotal moments where I sat with a friend of mine. She's in broadcasting. And she was also doing marketing and she sat with me and said, okay, if you were to stay. what would you want that to look like? So we kind of had a few sessions. I was really worried about my patients in Chicago, cuz I had left them temporarily saying that , one of my colleagues would, would take care of them. I had two in particular that refused. So I would have zoom meetings and consults with them, you know, virtually. So we sat down and really tried to figure out what's my best option. So my first year was quite challenging, you know, driving on the opposite side of the road, and then driving different places. And you know when somebody would, you know, I would wanna go someplace, a lot of people. They are not good with directions. Right. So I would say, you know, give me from point a to B. And most of the times, most people just know how to get to a place. They don't have an address for it. So just kind of maneuvering that .Maneuvering driving at night when there's no street lights. But what I was so happy about was eating things that I really missed. So Chibage maize, I love that nyimo I used to eat ground nuts that are boiled, cuz you can get those from the Chinese shop, but they were all like just trying out different foods and remembering, and yes, I came back with such an idealistic vision of home. And then when you come and then you drive around and it's just as crazy as driving in Lagos I was like, whoa, when did this all happen?
Vongai: Yeah. It's, frightening that most deaths in Zimbabwe and South Africa are due to car accidents.
Dr. Nyarai: Yeah. Cuz people create their own road rules. Right. Yeah. And one of the, one of the first places I went was back to my high school, Dominican convent. I, you know, I just walked around the quad and it looked the same. I felt like I went back to my teenage years there. So that was lovely. And yeah, it gradually got better. You know, one of the, one of the things that I think helped me really settle in into Harare was there's a group on Facebook called ZimVine so, you know, it was always difficult to kind of search for things on the internet, cuz most people don't update their website or do you know until now.
Vongai: It's really frustrating. You have to ask around for phone numbers.
Dr. Nyarai: Yes. So ZimVine was absolutely amazing. You either search or pop a question and they'll tell you where to go get things. The other thing is my group. I when I was still in Chicago, I belonged to Internations. It's kind of Facebook of international or expats. And I would do a lot of events in, in Chicago with that group. And then there was there's Internations in Harare. And I went to a couple of events. And from there I met some people who then we became good friends. One of them was Enya. And what she would do is once a. we'd meet at a different coffee shop or restaurant, and then she introduced me to some other lovely ladies. So we were able to, so that kind of really helped me get to know Harare, get to meet different people. And now I wasn't like clinging onto my family for everything because
Vongai: That's me every time I'm in Zimbabwe, because I don't know anyone and I don't drive.
Dr. Nyarai: Yeah. So it really was really helpful for me to kind of widen my circle. I also, you know went back to the church. My mother went to St. Luke Greendale. Total sense of community there. So I, you know, those were people that I also connected. But then my circle kind of widened, and now I know the city more than my sister. Who's lived here longer than I have and my aunt they always like, how do you know these places? so, you know, but the first year was a little bit bumpy. And then also you have different expectations, right? So you, you have expectations that you'll have water , and electricity. And when then that goes Yeah, that kind of gives you, that's a hiccup and you have to kind of figure out how are you gonna move around that? And you know, there were silly things that I missed, like I missed my shampoo from trader Joe. I love whole foods and I love trader Joe trader Joe was good for all the snacks, but I'm a whole, you know, I love both of them yes,
Vongai: yes. They are good for the snacks. I will take it, but the produce always goes bad . There are very few people in my life who are whole foods. People. I very much treasure those people. Everyone else is like trader Joe's and I'm just like, it's okay. You can still be my friend.
Dr. Nyarai: Yes. And you know, what I really love about Whole Foods is like, I like their coffee bar and their food bars, you know, that's probably all changed now, but you can just go and hang out. So I go out to whole foods and I'll study and eat all their nuts.
Vongai: Whole Foods is the one place. I would want an endorsement as an actor. I used to make jokes about this, but I'm serious whole foods and kombucha
Dr. Nyarai: kombucha. I love kombucha
Vongai: for those that dunno. Kombucha is spelled K O M B U C H A.
It is like fermented mushroom
Dr. Nyarai: yes. Full of good, good probiotics, which are good for your guts and your mental wellness actually. And your immune system.
Vongai: I'm kind of obsessed about like gut health, but then sometimes do you find Dr. Nyarai? You can go too far and then after all you're like, I feel like I'm getting obsessive of whether I'm healthy or not. And now I don't feel healthy. That's true. True. And maybe this thing isn't good. Me.
Dr. Nyarai: Yeah. I think everything in measure, right. All in balance. Yes. And kombucha is kind of like maheu. If you, if you have traditional maheu you know, that's the same idea of having something fermented. Oh, so you get the same good properties, you know, without all the extra intense sugar, but you know, the, the bacteria feeds on the sugar, but it works really well in, in repopulating your gut flora.
Vongai: Hmm. What would you say to like a potential client or someone who's interested and they're like, what is holistic health, integrative medicine? How can I combine it with Western medicine? What are like the benefits, pros and cons of. How would you pitch it or I guess talk like you probably have a lot of people in your life who come up to you and be like you do what what's that health, how do you explain that to people?
Dr. Nyarai: What I say is that naturopathic and holistic medicine looks for the root cause. And it looks at you holistically body, mind, and spirit, right? You're not just your hypothyroidism or your hypertension symptoms, symptoms. You are a whole person who is living in the world and, you know, has a social network. And so we need to figure out where are the imbalances that are occurring in your life and how do we bring it back to balance. Right. And we do that in a variety of ways. And naturopaths come in a variety of ways as well. What I do is I use botanical herbal medicine. I use homeopathy, I use aromatherapy . I also use hydrotherapy, which is the use of water to, to do your, you know, healing practices and nutrition, which is actually pretty key. And then also lifestyle, you know, where are there stresses in your life? Is it in your relationships? Is it in your job? Is, you know, is it in your studying, you know, are you carving out enough time for you. You know, to replenish whether it's walking in nature, whether it's cooking or, you know, following your passions, you know, and sometimes I think life takes over and we start to forget the things that bring us joy and how can you infuse some of that into your life? And, you know, when I prescribe to people, you know, I need you to, to keep a gratitude journal or I need you to create a worry box where you put all your worries. You know, it doesn't seem medical. But it is, you know, because how you deal with the stresses in your life is, is important. You know, do you feel as if you are supported by your community and your loved ones, because again, all of those things play a role in how it affects our mental health. It also has an effect on our immune system.
Vongai: It's true. It's very subtle. It it's like one thing can pile onto another thing and we live very much in a society where people are quick to go pick up a Panadol ibuprofen. Yes. Basically paracetamol type painkiller, instead of drinking,
Dr. Nyarai: instead of drinking water,
Vongai: sometimes you have a headache because
Dr. Nyarai: Dehydrated yep yep. And naturopathic medicine. We know we have a lot of people who are not into any type of conventional medicine, but my philosophy is there's a place for all types of medicine. Some, you know, and healing takes place in a variety of different ways. Maybe you need, you know, sound medicine. Maybe you need to use color remedies or, you know, maybe you need to meditate. Or maybe you need to try healing touch whether it's Reiki. Or, you know, Tai Chi or chigong or whatever it is that you, you feel you need breathwork, massages. Yes.
Vongai: So massages, I think you hear it and you think, oh, it's this luxurious thing that like people with money you pay for, but mm-hmm , but there are these like energy centers in the body and also these tense centers and also this blood flowing the body. Mm-hmm that with a massage it's able to redistribute the blood and kind of help you breathe into places where you're holding or where this tension or even trauma yep. Stuff. I think dance is wonderful for women. Yes. I've always wanted to get into belly dance every year. I just push it off. I dunno why, because there's a lot of healing to be done in the womb and in that sacral chakra area of a woman, whether it. Growing up, hating that you're a girl or the way society treats you or assault, trauma, menstrual issues, menstrual health stuff.
Dr. Nyarai: Mm-hmm, fertility issues, even just your goddess self, right. To kind of love and be yeah. Comfortable in your own skin. And then there's also acupuncture. There's so many there's chiropractic medicine. luckily the school I went to, they were chiropractor. I would get an adjustment every week I would get acupuncture.
Vongai: Had this stage combat teacher who taught us how to crack backs. And it was game changing. I know started, acupuncture sure I haven't done it in years, but I used to go weekly for my kind of sacral chakra health issues. Initially it's because I just couldn't afford to go the Western route. So I was just like mm-hmm cause health insurance in the us is a whole thing. I was like, let me try acupuncture. Let me also try all these other avenues to see if that will help with pain and inflammation and all that stuff. Mm-hmm . So I went into there's this great acupuncture place in Harlem. Hopefully it still exist, exist. And the way it was like modeled as like a community center. So there are like different and arm chairs and there's Zen and music and paintings playing. And initially I was scared because you see acupuncture in the movies and you just think in your body and, but like doing it once the needles are in, you don't feel it like as long as you just, just don't move just stay stil. Yes. True. Always felt like a nice nap for me. She would put this like light material over me and then she'd be like, and now rest. And then she would come when it was done and it was time. She would like tap me and we'd do a thing. She would check my tongue before and after, because she also would she dabbled in Chinese traditional medicine.
Okay. As well. Yeah. And, and then I used to work a lot on my feet as an usher and like patron services telling people about theater and stuff. So going to foot massages up as well. And this book on reflexology, all those points. And then the, and now I'm, oh, you're gonna love this. This might be too much for some people, but I have a tongue scraper because apparently there very good in the tongue that also, and this is like traditional, I think Indian mm-hmm
Dr. Nyarai: Ayurvedic medicine.
Vongai: Yes. ayurvedic it's very interesting. The knowledge that is within indigenous communities and how often, because we've been so pro Western medicine in the name of science, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. We can often discredit some of these indigenous, not information
Dr. Nyarai: mm-hmm .And I think the part that's essential for people of color or African people is that we need to document like Chinese. You know, Chinese and Indians have done a great service to humanity by documenting all the different indigenous practices and healing modalities that they have. We have to do that.
Maybe west Africa is a lot better than us and South Africa is actually ahead of us. But, you know, as Zimbabweans you know, we need to start to document all the different practices that we have. All the different herbs we have in the forest, in the bushes and the different, you know, whether it's a grandmother in kumusha who's healing, different conditions that are happening because there's a lot of wealth in that. You know, what we have to remember is that medicine comes from herbs. You know, aspirin comes from white Willow. So we have to remember these things and to kind of give homage to that because they incredible amount of information and medicines that we can appreciate and utilize from indigenous people.
Vongai: So where do you source your herbs and your medicines? For your practice.
Dr. Nyarai: Okay. So in the us, I have an online dispensary, so patients are able to kind of just I just tell them what it is that they need and then they can order and it gets delivered to them.
Here in Harare I've got a wonderful community of practitioners. Part of the herbs that I get a portion goes back to the small holder farmers who are growing the herbs organically. And they're a couple of, of, of businesses that like Wild Health and then Marvel. So there are local people who are producing herbs and supplements that I get from them. And then I also have to get some from South Africa. Because they either don't grow here or they're difficult to get. So, so it's just a, a variety of, of places and just there's a, there's a beautiful community of, healers or people who are into natural medicine. So we support each other and tell each other where to get things. There are some local farmers that I use and I also, my brother grows and my sister, they're also pretty big into growing. So they also grow some of the herbs that we use. So we, we use them either as a a tea. We encapsulate them. So we make them into a powder and then encapsulate, or you get them as a, as a tincture, which is a liquid form of, of the remedy
Vongai: So as someone who's also into mental health and sleep, self love, self care, all those wonderful goddess talks. How are you able to self care for yourself when things are hard? And do you have a morning routine or practice?
Dr. Nyarai: Yes. Okay. So I always know that I'm on the edge when I become quite agitated. . And so what I do for my self care, I meditate every morning, 30 minutes. I'm trying to increase it. When I first moved back, I had stopped and then I realized this is not, I'm not being a nice human being to the people around me. So I started back at five minutes and increased. I love listening to music. I love reading. I love time with family. That's really important to me, family and friends. While I seem quite extroverted, I'm really an introvert. So I really also treasure
Vongai: same I need to be by myself, away from the peoples and the peopling for like two days.
Dr. Nyarai: Yeah, I have, yeah, I
Vongai: need that, especially cuz I can tend to take on people's thoughts. Yes. And emotions. Mm-hmm I'm very highly sensitive. So then I have to get rid of the static noise in my brain and hear my intuition. Yes.
Dr. Nyarai: Yeah. Alignment, alignment, and I love, love, love, love going to markets. I always feel as if, if I don't go to a market, an outside market that I've missed out on something for the day.
I also have a group of women that I meet with. I've been meeting with them since 2016, initially in 2016, I just felt disconnected from my holistic natural, you know, tribe. And I and I met a lovely gentleman named Richard who told me about a group of women. And so I meet them every Saturday. One of them is Dell Smith. She's been a homeopath in Zimbabwe for over 40 something years. And that actually was what has saved me. And I continue to kind of honor the time that we spent. So we meet, we talk about different healing modalities. I learned more about homeopathy. I've learned a wealth of stuff about. Different types of healing practices. You know, you learn a lot in medical school, but you don't. A lot. I love taking baths. I love being in water. And I also love going visiting. I have like a bucket list of places that I wanna visit went to Vic falls. Like I like to go hiking and just being out in nature. And one thing that I haven't been doing as well is, is journaling. I used to be a big journaler. You know, I was listening to Oprah talking about how, you know, she does all these different types of journaling. And I was like, oh, I need to get back into that. Cuz I used to be really intense about doing morning pages. I don't know if you ever read the artist's way. I have artist, girl, girl. I know. So yeah, I need to go back to doing morning pages and I used to also, you know in Chicago I was part of a writing group and it was, oh, that, that, that group really inspired me. I'm so very good. Friends with all the guys that I was meeting with on Saturdays and writing. Yeah, so writing is important to me, so I really need to get back into journaling. And then I also love walking. I take walks. I'm not a very good runner. .
Vongai: Same meditative walks. I just put music in and I walk around New York. I take myself on an adventure with the sound. Oh, you're going to love this I do this thing that I thought I made up , so I found out that Thursday is like Jupiter day and Jupiter is the planet of prosperity. So I said to myself, I wanna have a day of personal prosperity where I just like, make all my dreams come true and do all the manifesting. And I was like, well, I'm gonna have to make that Thursday. I'm I'm I need to ensure I'm never stressed out on a Thursday. So I started, I, I set that day aside and it became like one of my days off when I had like more of a regular job going. So every Thursday or some of the Thursdays, I would go and treat myself to a movie hashtag solo date and there's this lovely movie theater I love to go to that's opposite a Barnes and noble. So I go to the movie theater, I buy my ticket. Okay. It starts in like 30 minutes to an hour walk across the street to Barnes and noble pick up books.
I'm interested in stack. I go to the theater section because it's in a corner and no one is ever there. I sit on the floor and it becomes my personal library. And I'm just like reading through all these different self-development books. Wow. Spiritual books. And I literally came across two, I think one was on minimalism and then the other was on something artistic and they both talked about what I was doing as a thing. One book called it a personal sabbath and then the other book, I forgot what they called it. And then when I got into the artist's way, eventually she talks about having a artist date and I was like, I've already been doing this thing. I thought I made it up. I thought I was a genius. Thursdays.
Dr. Nyarai: I need to do that. I Yeah, I need to do that. It
Vongai: is gamechanging. It ensures that even if you get busy, you have that day
Dr. Nyarai: carved out for it. Okay. I need, I re I'm gonna take that on. There was something that you were, you had said. I remember when I had to do my, my, you know, artist date by myself and you're in a restaurant by yourself and go to movie. I would always have somebody coming up to me and saying, are you okay? You know isn't that interesting, but solo date I'm yeah. It's like, I'm gonna start that.
Vongai: Last question. What advice would you have for someone listening right now? Who might be thinking I wanna do what Dr Nyarai does, but I'm not quite sure where to start. Are there any resources, whether there are courses, organizations, books, websites that you could recommend and then, yeah.
Dr. Nyarai: Okay. What I would say is. Listen to the whispers that come to you, the things that bring, you delight and joy, the things that you do effortlessly that you just wake up and would do naturopathic medicine. Fills my soul, but there are so many different things that you could do. You could, you know, you could be a reflexologist, you could do acupuncture, find the healing modality that you want to take on. The beautiful thing with technology is that you can go on YouTube. You can Google for naturopathic medicine, there's the American association of naturopathic physicians where you can go on there and, and, and figure out if they're coming to your city. They also have a lot of videos that talk about what is naturopathic medicine? What is a naturopathic doctor do where the doctors that listen, they always say you can also find out what schools are available. And you can also reach out to me. I mean I used to mentor a lot of new and potential students that were coming to the school. I went to national university of health sciences in Lombard Illinois, which is in the suburb of Chicago. So I'm happy to chat to support anyone who is interested in holistic medicine, in wellness, in mental wellness, in just ensuring that people live their best lives. Love it.
Vongai: Okay, welcome to our lightning round. What is your Zodiac sign?
Dr. Nyarai: Cancer.
Vongai: Texting or talking?
Dr. Nyarai: Oh yeah. Yeah. I'm a texter. ,
Vongai: I'm a phone person. I like to see the face and get the vibe and okay. Last song you listened to.
Dr. Nyarai: You know, I love south African music, so there's this guy, son, Ella musician. Yeah, I really like, I really like him. There's one called keep moving or something like that. Ish. Yeah. Oh,
Vongai: What is the last book you read?
Dr. Nyarai: Oh my goodness. It was a medical book. It's a book by Dr. Paul Anderson on naturopathic approaches for cancer. . and I'm also reading humans of New York. So a dear friend of mine, Kim came to visit from Minnesota and she brought me that. So I gift myself and I, and I read three or four stories before going to bed.
Vongai: I always wanted to bump into him. So I could be photographed. And from, yes, I'm from Zimbabwe. I'm an actor.
Dr. Nyarai: It'll happen. We're putting it out into the.
Vongai: Okay. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Dr. Nyarai: Go and meet all the people who've passed on wherever they are. I would have that superpower. I would have my mom and my dad. I would have Bob Marley. , I would see my grandma. We never met, but I have. Absolute connection to her and my grandfather on my, my maternal side, I would just want to kind of sit with them and ask them, you know, about their lives. So yeah, that would be the superpower that I would have.
Vongai: I love that. Do you have a favorite essential oil or herb?
Dr. Nyarai: Yeah so my essential oil is not actually an oil it's Sage. It's the white Sage that you use, the smudging. I love that. And the herb that I like, it's a tossup between oregano and ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is an ayurvedic herb that's used for energy, stress management, hormonal balancing. Yeah. I love that.
Vongai: Do you have a favorite Zimbabwe musician?
Dr. Nyarai: Ooh, toss up. I loved Oliver Mtukudzi and I loved Chiwoniso and I loved them because they would come to Chicago and see them and then we'd have sadza with them afterwards. So yeah, they are probably my favorites, but there's so many really good artists. There's a, there's a guy named Silent who plays, I think a saxophone. There's so many good musicians. Oh my goodness.
Vongai: Do you have a favorite Zimbabwe childhood snack?
Dr. Nyarai: Flake and Crunchy I used to love those .
Vongai: It's time for the most controversial question. Are you ready?
Dr. Nyarai: Yes.
Vongai: Mazoe orange versus Mazoe green
Dr. Nyarai: Mazoe green
Vongai: Okay. Power statement time. I am ZimExcellence because blank.
Dr. Nyarai: I am ZimExcellence because I have a beautiful cousin. I am ZimExcellence because I am passionate about the work I do in wellness. I am ZimExcellence because I'm rooted in love in my mother's Hwesa culture. And I'm a Mbizi
Vongai: I love that. If you could nominate someone for the award of ZimExcellence, who would it be?
Dr. Nyarai: I would, oh, now it's gonna seem like this is a whole family thing. I would nominate my cousin. Fadzi I would nominate her Um-huh
Vongai: I mean, Zimbabwe was a small country. Anyway. We're probably all
Dr. Nyarai: Related. We're all related somehow. Right? .
Vongai: Yes Dr. Paweni this was amazing. As we wrap up, I would love it. If you could share a message with our listeners, letting them know how they can follow your journey, how they can also reach out and work with you, whether that's Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, whatever, .
Dr. Nyarai: Okay, fantastic. So on all social media, I'm under Sage restorative. Can reach me via phone at REDACTED or REDACTED. My website is Sage H health.com. And feel free to send me an email at info, Sage hw.com, and I'm happy to chat with you. And parting way words is continue learning, continue exploring know that you are loved and you're lovable and you have a unique message to give and share with the world. And don't be afraid to, to share it and find other people in your tribe who believe in you. And I'm so honored to have been a part of this conversation.
Vongai: Thank you, Dr Paweni. Everyone have a really great day
Dr. Nyarai: Wonderful. Thank you so much Vongai.