Have you heard of Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a Vedic science. It means the heritage is from the Vedas – the sacred scriptures in Hinduism. This science is mainly designed to bring the human body back into balance so it can heal itself. The most well-known branch of this science is yoga. Today, yoga is recognized as a holistic practice that is enjoyed by thousands if not millions around the globe. Just like yoga and meditation have only one purpose – to expose the illusion and neediness of the mind and become free – Ayurveda’s purpose is to create balance to live life in harmony with the environment. Ayurveda is another well-known branch of the Vedic science. Can you imagine living your life according to your own terms and wishes?
Being free means to love who and how you desire without holding back any expression, and to wear whatever or act however you like without any concern about what people might think of you. And what if you were free of cravings like sweets, chips, chocolate, coffee, money or shopping? Ayurveda seeks to free you from all that so the delicate, vulnerable and powerful “you” can shine and empower you to just being you.
In Ayurveda, the mind is thought to be the origin of all disease. The mind creates protective patterns and belief systems that start early in childhood and shape your personality today.
As infants and toddlers, the mind is poorly developed, allowing these little ones to be pure and attractive. As we grow up and get hurt feelings on the playground, figure out how to get mommy and daddy’s approval, or discover the magic of ice cream, each child creates a new, safer version of their personality based on these very unique experiences. Often, these childhood personality traits are carried into adulthood and, while they served you as a child, they often don’t serve you as an adult. These protective emotional patterns are generally created to keep the child safe and out of emotional harm, but as adults, they put significant stress on the body.
The two main guiding principles of Ayurvedic science are:
The mind and the body are inextricably connected.
Nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind.
Freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body. This process isn’t as complicated as it might sound. For example, when you meditate you effortlessly enter a state of expanded awareness and inner quiet that refreshes the mind and restores balance. Since the mind and body are inseparable, the body is naturally balanced through the practice of meditation. In the state of restful awareness created through meditation, your heart rate and breath slow, your body decreases the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and you increase the production of neurotransmitters that enhance well being, including serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins.
According to the science of Ayurveda, everyone has a specific body and mental type that is determined and influenced by five elements (space, air, fire, water and earth). We are constantly under the influence of these elements. When we know our body type, we can consciously create a plan to live a balanced and fulfilling life. The body type classifications are: vata, a combination of space and air element; pita, the element of fire; and kapha, a combination of water and earth element.
Knowing your body type, you can implement a plan to keep your energy aligned with your body, mind, spirit and surroundings. When we get tensed or stressed, a degenerative stress response is driven into every cell of the body. Depending on your particular body type, your body will process this change of the cell in its own unique way. The stress pattern is created in the mind. The stress reactors also get stored in the fat cells as molecules of emotions. When we take care of our body and allow new patterns to develop, the emotional molecules are released, giving an opportunity for deep mental, emotional and spiritual transformation.
Ayurveda believes that healing starts from within. When we live a lifestyle in harmony with nature and our own body type, we can reach a fully-balanced life. Proper diet, exercise, herbal support, yoga, breathing and meditation help promote maintenance of overall health and emotional wellbeing. It is clearly unique in this day and age to find a system of medicine that is more than 5,000 years old and is still largely practiced on the planet. Here in the west, this system is in its infancy, whereas in the east there are more than 300,000 Ayurvedic doctors.
According to Ayurveda, living in harmony with nature’s cycles is required for the body to enjoy the self-awareness needed to heal itself and then build the clarity needed to provoke deep emotional change in one’s life. Ayurveda recognizes that all living creatures, whether human, plant or animal, must live in harmony with nature in order to survive. Like the owner’s manual of your car prescribes maintenance schedules for the long-term health of your car, Ayurveda speaks of daily and seasonal routines that ensure maximal health, mental clarity and longevity. For example, birds fly south in the winter – their survival depends on it. In the fall, leaves turn red and fall off the trees – it’s a law of nature. We humans tend to insulate ourselves away from much participation in the changes that take place from one season to the next. We don’t realize that, just like the birds, our survival depends on nature as well. By simply putting on or taking off a sweater and eating the same foods 365 days a year, we are not keeping up with the original human design. Going to sleep and rising with the sun, eating seasonal foods for your region, and building your activities around the natural rhythms of the day are all simple and profound ways to stay in harmony with nature. Through the science of Ayurveda, we can practice simple, holistic ways to live a healthy and well balanced life.