"Knowledge of a Long Life," this is the meaning behind Ayurveda's philosophy.
The origin of the Vedic healing system and philosophy is lost among myths and legends, but it is a fact that Ayurveda has been practiced in India for more than 5,000 years.
What makes Ayurveda unique and how does our lifestyle change?
Interdependence between microcosmos and macrocosmos
According to Ayurveda, each of us is a miniature copy of the Universe. Everything that is present in the universe is also present in our bodies, so any change in the environment affects our body, mind and soul. Similarly, each of our activities that manifests itself through our physical body, mind or soul affects in some way the environment and others.
Ayurveda teaches us that the healthy body, the right thoughts, the benevolent words we say purify the air around us and free it both from physical, chemical and microbiological pollutants, as well as from negative spiritual vibrations.
For us, born and educated in the spirit of western perceptions of life, this may seem a bit strange, but if we make a simple experiment, we will be convinced of the correctness of the Ayurvedic philosophy of the interconnection between the microcosmos (man) and the macrocosmos (the Universe).
The experiment is very easy. Choose a flower that you grow in your home and every morning, as soon as you get up, tell it nice things. You will see that in just a few days the flower will become "more cheerful", stronger and greener.
Or… In the morning, going out for work, instead of being sullen and irritated by the busy morning traffic, just smile at people. You will see that they will respond you with the same, and your day will pass in a different way.
Positive attitude is very important to each of us, and that's what Ayurveda is teaching us.
Understanding for health
Unlike our familiar medicine, the health for Ayurveda is harmony. Harmony between the physical body, the mind and the soul. Only if this balance is achieved can one feel good in all aspects of his or her life.
Healthy lifestyle cannot be replaced by anything. It cannot be bought with money and no one else can give it to us. This is the beauty of Ayurveda. It gives us knowledge that helps us live in harmony. It gives us a regime that corresponds our constitution and which affects all aspects of our nature: physical, mental and spiritual.
But success is only possible if we make efforts, show consistency and spend part of our time to take care of ourselves. One of the disadvantages of modern civilization is the lack of enough time to care for our health and the health of our loved ones.
If we truly appreciate our well-being, we will find time. The responsibility for our health is only ours and if we do not make any effort in this direction, there is no one else to blame but ourselves.
According to Ayurveda, the ways to take care of our health are easy to follow. It is enough to eat healthy, with adequate nourishment and according to our individual constitution (dosha), to use healing herbs, to do yoga, to meditate and clean our thoughts. In one sentence: Our health depends on the harmony and balance we maintain ourselves!
Ayurveda and the way of eating
Ayurvedic holistic medicine teaches us that the change in body, mind and soul comes with a change in nutrition. Because the food we consume every day is not just a process of digestion, it is food for the body, mind and consciousness.
"The unhealthy (food, drink, lifestyle) that has become a habit due to prolonged use has to be phased out step by step. Also, healthy (food, drink, lifestyle) should start gradually, with an interval of one, two or three days. The sudden cessation of the harmful (activities, food, etc.) and the equally sudden start of a healthy life (activities, food, etc.) leads to the occurrence of satmya diseases (as a result of habit) and asatmya diseases (due to lack of habit)".
Common rules for food intake and improvement of digestion:
- – Eating should include all six flavors (sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter or tart);
- – Eating should be according to the individual characteristics of human physiology, the current season of the year and the time;
- – It is not recommended to take too much fluids during meals,
- – It is necessary to use spices for better digestion and assimilation of the food;
- – The main meal should be at noon (12:00 local time);
- – It is not recommended to eat in an increased emotional state – excitement, anxiety, irritation – we have to wait until we calm down;
- – We only need to eat when we feel hunger and eat moderate amounts of food;
- – Ayurveda does not recommend eating forcibly when appetite is lacking.
- – We need to eat moderately, something that most people overlook. Being in a hurry in our everyday life, we do not pay enough attention to the food we eat. We do not sit on the table, eat slowly and enjoy the food. Instead we eat standing or in front of the TV, computer, or with a newspaper in hand. So we do not really feel the food and cannot stop eating even after we have satisfied our natural food needs.
The main thing that every person should understand is that our food cannot and should not be limited to the assortment of foods at the nearest supermarket or catering establishments. The way we eat and what we eat should help the process of digestion, form the basis of the physical and spiritual development of the body.
Health maintenance and disease prevention
In the practice of modern medicine, efforts are being made mostly to treat diseases that have already occurred and preventive measures are left behind.
Ayurveda focuses on maintaining good health and disease prevention, and this is its main goal. The treatment of illnesses that have already occurred is an additional, secondary goal.
The preventative measures that Vedic Medicine recommends include: creating a diet (according to the dosha), following the so-called "rules of life" called svastavrita, which include daily regimen (DIN-charya) and night regimen (Ratri-charya), a regimen for different seasons of the year (Rita-charya), and a regimen of human behavior in society (acara-Rasayana). All of this certainly prevents the development of various diseases.
Following these easy-to-implement regimes, herbal supplementation and panchakarma (the detoxification therapy) helps prevent many diseases.
Holistic concept of health
Contrary to the methods used by modern medicine to treat each organ separately, regardless of their relationship with other organs, Ayurveda views the life and health of a person as a whole.
For holistic medicine, health and disease are a consequence (a by-product) of all other aspects of human life – nutrition, social activities, work, spiritual setup. If any of these aspects are stagnant or weakened, then the illnesses also appear.
In addition, Ayurveda does not cure only one organ, as, according to holistic medicine, all organs in the human body are functionally interconnected. If the disease is concentrated in a particular area ofthe body or organ, other parts of the human body are examined and treated.
In other words, what one does in one aspect of their life is reflected in all other aspects (including physical and mental health). That is why Ayurveda teaches us to care in all areas of our lives in order to maintain a good balance in our bodies.
Psychosomatic concept of health
Along with an overall approach to body care and the functional unity of all of its parts, Ayurveda shows us that there is a close relation between the physical body and what is happening in our thoughts.
Mental factors directly affect the functioning of different parts of the body and vice versa. Bad thoughts, hatred, blasphemy, and intellectual cynicism are among the factors responsible for the occurrence of physical and mental disorders.
On the other hand, proper understanding, the normal functioning of the sensory organs and their good interaction with the objects of the outside world, as well as the favorable external conditions, help to achieve physical and mental health.
Starting from the described psychosomatic approach, Ayurveda prescribes certain norms of behavior both for maintaining normal health and for treating illnesses. The purity of food and our own purity (personal hygiene of the body and mind) are also necessary factors contributing to mental health and the treatment of mental disorders.
In assessing the health and nature of the disease, apart from the body and the mind, it is necessary to take into account the psychological structure of the soul. According to Ayurveda, if a person has vices, then he or she cannot be considered healthy as the healthy person does not commit wicked actions. That is why Vedic medicine carefully describes various methods, all kinds of spiritual practices, meditations and rituals that promote spiritual healing and growth.
We are unique!
By learning about the Ayurvedic concepts of life and health, we understand that we are unique. Our body, individuality and nature are a combination of our physical, spiritual and emotional level.
By following the guidelines given by ancient Indian philosophy and changing our way of life and understanding of the world inside and outside of us, we can live in peace with ourselves and others.
But everything depends only on us! Change cannot be imposed; it must be desired and implemented by ourselves. Because each one of us is unique and one of a kind!