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Monday, July 12, 2010

Having An Open Mind

What do we mean when we say “You should be more open minded”? Do we in fact mean that we should not instantly judge something from our own perspective but instead take some time to evaluate, test, and contemplate what it is that we are judging? I believe that this is exactly what we mean. We should not instantly reject something because it seems religious or mystical. We should approach all cultural systems with as much objectivity as we possibly can. We should also not avoid or discredit things that we simply do not understand. Having an open mind is a virtue and it can allow us to learn from many different cultures that have spent centuries defining themselves and their healing systems. They have learned throughout history of what will work and what does not work. It is not enough to discredit these healing systems because they are old or ancient. They have withstood the test of time and they have also proved to be invaluable to some individuals in terms of healing and nurturing. Our best approach is to learn about these holistic systems and find out for ourselves if they are sciences that actually work.

The Holistic Healing system of Ayurveda is historically the most ancient and the most comprehensive. Dating back at least four thousand years, this healing system was developed by spiritually developed individuals. The Vedic civilization is also responsible for the system of Yoga with all of its branches of wisdom. Both Yoga and Ayurveda are complete holistic systems that bring nature to the forefront when curing and preventing disease. Ayurveda looks at the uniqueness of each individual and treats the person according to many factors including the mental, physical and spiritual components of each. The person is treated according to his or her body constitution or to the degree that the elements are present in that individual patient. Ayurveda holds that everything in the Universe is composed of combinations or degrees of each major element (Air, Water, Fire, Ether). These elements translate into their combinations which are interpreted as the three biological humors or Doshas (Kapha, Pitta, Vatta). Further, each person is treated according to the presence and degrees of these elements in their body relative to balancing these humors in the body. Moreover, the individual is looked at in his or her unique lifestyle and psychological situation. Important aspects of the life of the individual like Nutrition, Digestion, Herbs, Natural Oils, Meditation, Yoga and Massage become paramount to the treatment of patients in Ayurveda. These aspects of life are treated directly with the patient. The patient is asked to evaluate their health from all aspects ranging from the mental and the spiritual to the physical. These important aspects in an individuals’ health are very important and should be taken into account when trying to heal a person. A doctor cannot merely suggest some herbs and send the patient to heal or get better. Instead, an Ayurvedic Doctor is trained to look at the complete multi-faceted life of the individual and make recommendations on their health in terms of Nutrition, Exercises, Herbal recommendations, Yoga Therapy, and lifestyle changes. For each category Ayurveda has detailed recommendations according to each persons’ body constitution and necessity. The full wisdom of Ayurveda includes a different understanding of Anatomy and Physiology along with their corresponding methods of treatment.

We are all prone to discredit things that we do not understand. It is quite simply much easier to judge something before fully understanding it. For most of us, this is our usual reaction. We use all of the conditioning which we have in our education and choose it as the only perspective on life. After all – it is ours and we identify completely with our opinions for the most part. To be wise, to have an open mind requires us to move beyond these opinions and to at least keep in mind that others have experienced life in a different way than we have and their experience may contribute to our overall understanding of the same. That is to say, not only is it important to try to understand other cultures to have a more universal understanding of ourselves but it is also important to at least give some of these systems a fair shake. We can look at the science of Yoga and how it has literally transformed lives and healed individuals in the United States. The art of Yoga has taken some time to be understood and accepted in the world. Today, we see more than ten million practicing Yogis worldwide who have been able to incorporate some of these holistic practices. You may begin by trying Yoga or by learning the art of Ayurveda. Beginning in this path or any other one with sincerity and resolve will make your path much easier to walk. What do you have to lose? These systems work within nature and nothing they prescribe is processed or artificial. We now know how much damage we have done to ourselves with these synthetic and conventional methods of healing. So keep an open mind and you will see how life can smile at you.

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