Thursday, July 22, 2010
The Path of Ayurveda
We are constantly asking ourselves the perennial questions in Life. Why are we here? What are we here for? What is the meaning of life? Short of answering these questions there is one thing that becomes abundantly clear as you walk through your experience in life. We have the ability to become better, healthier and happier human beings. We are built with the capacity to develop ourselves psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Once you discover this truth it almost becomes a responsibility to help and develop yourself. So the questions remains – how do I do it. What are the steps that I need to take to become a better, happier and healthier human being.
Ayurveda is the most ancient and comprehensive healing system in the world. Dating back almost 4 to 5 thousand years ago, Ayurveda blossomed as a natural healing system and still remains a holistic healing system that can bring many benefits to our lives. The beauty of Ayurveda can be found in its understanding of the human being as a mind, body, spirit complex. It would seem obvious that we are not just bodies but are actually a combination of mind, body, and spirit but in our health care system we treat ourselves as if we were only a body. We prescribe pharmaceuticals to treat our bodily diseases and we leave it at that. We recommend exercise and a healthy diet – that is where we typically end the health recommendations. In Ayurveda, health goes far beyond that. To begin with, the human being is treated as an individual who is composed of a unique body constitution. This body constitution is determined by what elements are present within the body or to what degree these elements are present within us. Depending on these factors you begin to balance these components to bring harmony and wellness. It is of no surprise then when we remember the words of the western father of medicine: Hippocrates:
“The natural forces within us and the true healers of disease”
From this perspective Ayurveda looks to heal the individual completely. It utilizes a very thorough understanding of Nutrition which determines the optimal foods to eat, the right times to consume food for proper digestion, and the right state of mind to develop when consuming our foods. Furthermore, Ayurveda also heals by incorporating natural herbs and natural herb combinations. A comprehensive understanding of herbs is presented give the ways of consumption, the combination of herbs, the preparation of herbal formula and the times to consume along with the mental framework as well. You learn to work with natural oils. A full spectrum of natural oils is presented through Ayurveda and how to apply these oils in different ways to Marma points which are very similar to meridian points in acupuncture. Ayurveda also has a recommendation in terms of the mental aspects of the human being. The comprehension of mental patterns becomes important, developing presence and consciousness of the moment or of the present moment becomes an important aspect of life for Ayurveda. The capacity to develop the power of attention which is the basis for meditative practices and other spiritual practices that we see run through many traditions. There are no secrets here. We know that many different cultural and religious traditions use rosaries, malas, repetitive prayers, chanting, meditation or dancing to harness the power of attention or to concentrate the being on one single point. This concentration and emptying of thought patterns allows you to concentrate on the present moment of being. This state helps to develop inner peace, tranquility an objective perspective on life and many other benefits. Ayurveda also incorporates training in meditation for well-being and health. Even further, Ayurveda incorporates Pranayama or the science of breath which teaches you how many different techniques to harness the power of breathing more completely. Current studies show that the average American only uses about 26 percent of their lung capacity. Through Ayurvedic principles you are taught how to breathe better and fuller breaths and how to nourish your organs through breathing among many other benefits. Ayurveda also looks to incorporate the science of Yoga which is a complementary science and even has postures designated for each particular body constitution.
In essence, Ayurveda offers a system of natural healing that is very complete both in terms of its treatments and also in its understanding of the human being. It offers a vision of healing for curing disease, for preventative health and ultimately for spiritual liberation. Ayurveda offers timeless principles for healing and well being.