Jaala enrolled in the 1999 Summer School, all four online courses, and Self Healing while I was in India. After my return, although I had not met her in person, I received a phone call from the Boulder Community Hospital saying Jaala was going to be admitted as she was a danger to her own life.
Allowed one call, Jaala had chosen to call me. When the doctors put her on the phone, I heard a fierce desperate voice begging me to come, so I agreed even though I did not fully understand what the situation was.
On arrival, the doctors explained that Jaala was anorexic and bulimic, and at 58 pounds was starving herself to death. They were legally forced to admit her to care because she had no family in Colorado.
I knew I had to help Jaala, so after introducing myself, I advised the doctors that she was a student in my school, and wanted to be healed. I said I was responsible as her teacher and as long as she promised to fulfill certain contains, I would sign her out under my care.
They agreed to my proposal and one of the doctors took me to meet her. Since, Clara, the young anorexia girl in Cambridge, England, many years before, I had never seen anyone so emaciated, but unlike Clara, Jaala was not weak, she was a raging flame of power and energy, a fierce burning bright light about to go out from lack of nourishment.
“Get me out of here, please” she begged as she rushed over. “Please help me.” As I met her eyes, a connection happened, and I knew I had to say yes.
“I am taking you out of the hospital,” I assured her. “However you have to come every morning at 9 am to my home for an hour and every afternoon after your work for the next three weeks before Summer School. Will do you promise to do that?”
“Yes. Yes. Anything. I have to get out of here.” Her desperation was catching. I wanted to get out of there too.
After I signed the papers, I took Jaala to the school. I made tea and then we sat on the lawn in the summer sun. Jaala drank her herbal tea and chewed the celery slowly, doing her best to keep her word.
From then on, Jaala arrived as promised every morning and afternoon, swinging into the drive on her bicycle, jumping off with enthusiasm, and offering a big smile. Every visit she drank herbal tea and chewed on raw snacks as we talked, and slowly her raging flame calmed down.
Relaxed conversations evolved into exploring her turbulent family history, intense angry estrangement from her mother, a marriage that wasn’t working out, and difficulties at Boulder Wholefoods where she was working as a checkout clerk.
Sometimes Jaala helped out a little in the office or relaxed on the lawn in the sunshine if I was busy, but every visit I gave her dedicated time as well as the nourishment she promised to receive.
By the time Summer School happened, I understood some of her family and personal history, had looked at the irises of her eyes with Iridology and learned about her daily habits, foods, and choices. Most importantly I had discovered her ‘mantra message’ as it provided the clue I needed to help her begin to adjust and understand this harmful basic belief.
I would ask her to say her favorite phrase, “I can’t eat until everything is done.” Then we would explore all the questions of why can’t you? This led to discovering content of confusion that we slowly sorted as we discussed reasons, excuses, and imaginations.
I also asked her to describe what happened to her when she looked, felt, smelled, and tasted food. Slowly her inner landscape became less constricted and she began to develop language to describe how she felt about herself and her choices. Although she had not gained much weight in three weeks, she had calmed and slowed down as her fierce fight for life was no longer needed. In her own words, “She felt safe.”
As Jaala entered the Summer School group, I noticed her confident calm shift into retreat away from the friendly get-to-know-you sociability. As usual, we launched Summer School with the Elements of Life Dances.
Jaala immediately resisted each dance, beginning with the Earth Element, “No I can’t do this,” she refused, moving away, and only after encouragement, made an effort to participate. For someone who biked and ran miles, I did not understand her resistance to dance but accepted that was where she was at and let her explore and find her way.
On the morning of the Fire Element, Jaala started shaking and tried to leave. Two fellow students sheltered and encouraged her to begin, and although she cried, but eventually made some of the movements. The next day she found relief in the beautiful slow spiraling calm of the Air Element, and the vibrational giving and receiving of sound in the Ether Element.
The following two weeks of studies and hands-on experiences progressed with Iridology, healing diets, bodywork, essential oils, and herbal medicine.
After the classes were over, I met with Jaala and advised her to go to the Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico and live on their program of living foods for an extended time to receive the nourishment she needed to rebuild her body. Being by the ocean in a warm climate was also an elemental gift that encouraged and enhanced her return to balance in her life.
Jaala came into my life a year or more later when I was teaching in Alburquerque, New Mexico. She phoned and arrived an hour later on a new racer’s bike with all the headgear and special shoes, having biked miles across the entire valley. Stronger, proud of her weight gain, full of purpose, she had advanced in her studies and Self Healing experience.
We met several times in New Mexico and then Jaala moved back to Boulder. She completed her assignments and case studies, attended Clinical Training, and achieved miracles of Self Healing from Anorexia and Bulimia as she strengthened her physical body, healed family relationships, received loving support from her mother from whom she had been estranged, and graduated as a Living Example of the teachings, a Naturopath, Master Herbalist, and Master Iridologist, in the autumn of 2000.
“Thank you Farida, thank you for the insight of all that was good in blessing the temple of my body with amazing foods and guidance to help me find my way. Right away I felt the support I had longed for emanating from this open loving environment, a true school that provides hands-on education and life skills.
“Farida, my wonderful soul-mother, saw me in the worst of the throes of anorexia and bulimia disease. During the Summer School Integrated Immersion Retreat, I experienced the Naturopathy Chakras and Elements of Life healing processes and found the fight of fire to pull away from anorexia nervosa.”
“I followed her advice and found the strength and ability to go to the Ann Wigmore Institute of Living Foods In Puerto Rico where I healed through wheatgrass nutrition and wonderful whole living and sprouted foods that helped to clear my mind to know what I needed to do to survive.”
“School of Natural Medicine is the closest glimpse I’ve had of coming home to myself. My teacher, Farida Sharan, welcomed me to compassion, truth, and love. Because I felt safe I knew I could learn how to fly!:
“Now, in November 2020, I am healthy and strong and have continued to be an outstanding athlete in my endeavors of running. I am a proud Vegan for over 27 years and run a seven kid Vegan household. They all thrive in health and athletics as well.
“Even though the doctors said I would never be able to have children, my period began at Summer School, and then every class I took with Farida, I would have another period until after my Naturopath graduation, the cycle became normal and I was able to become pregnant.
“Doctors said I would never have children right before going to nourish myself with living foods in Puerto Rico! Even though I was so so very very malnourished at 58 pounds, my head somehow recovered through the nourishment of living foods, and I was able to be clear enough to choose LIFE!”
“From then on, I made clear defined choices of health and strength for my body and life. I remarried and with a supportive husband and partner, birthed and raised seven children while continuing my practice in Wellness in the gyms with Personal Training and Nutrition Consultations. I achieved a Masters in Psychology MFCT (Marriage, Family, Child Therapist), and later a Doctorate in Health Psychology.”
“I now help in hospitals with ‘Trauma and Return to Life Behavioral Health’ guiding patients to move through the trauma that put them there, advising them on how and what to do next, explaining the resources they would need to return to health, and life, while understanding their trauma is real and will affect the rest of their life.”
It feels good to be using my resources where most needed in our society today.” Jaala Gilman Knowlton ND, PT, MA, LFN Jaala Knowlton, Naturopath, Tri-Athlete, Physical Trainer, Colorado.
Years later, in 2010, after Jaala had been featured on TV and in magazine articles as someone who had healed anorexia, I asked her to teach a class at the school as students and graduates wanted to meet her. They were fascinated and inspired by her Self Healing story and how she was raising a large family of vegan athletes she had birthed naturally, proving doctors wrong.
Feb 13, 2020