Ayurveda~ Well-being from the Ancients
Every thought and action contributes to our well-being, health & happiness. Every decision we make takes one of two paths: either contributing to our state of health and well-being or detracting from it. We control our minds and bodies, affecting how we benefit or harm ourselves. Let us examine our daily lives with these questions to start with…
- What do I do when I first wake up in the morning?
- How do I react or respond when someone triggers me or does something that makes me feel uncomfortable?
- What is my work and personal life like?
- What foods do I eat?
- What is my night time routine?
- What do I do for enjoyment?
- Are there problems or distractions from preventing me from enjoying the present moment?
- Am I using my talents and abilities to help others?
- What is the reason that I was put on this planet at this time?
According to Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of health and well-being, our health is connected with our unique state of balance. The above questions are just a few such that help to understand an individual’s lifestyle and diet, which are strong indicators of his/her state of health. Appropriate changes can be made with an Ayurvedic consultant and by taking on tips that I will provide. When the body, mind, sense organs and soul are happy, content and satisfied, then we feel healthy. Then, we can live happily, we can have a means to live happily, and we can follow our spiritual journey.
Being healthy can be defined as maintaining good energy, having a normal appetite and eliminations, keeping a balanced mind and making sure that the sense organs are satisfied. Once we feel healthy, healthy people will come to us and we can make better decisions to feel happier. Once we feel happier, good things come to us. This also allows us to become clearer in our spiritual purpose on this planet at this time.
Our choices are critical in determining our happiness. Becoming more aware and silent helps us find awareness to make better decisions that contribute to our state of well-being. We can call these sattvic decisions. Sattvic energies allow us to know how to deal with life problems and we know the right direction for growth and fulfillment. When sattwa dominates, the mind is clear, peaceful, calm and creative. A sattvic state of mind allows us to follow our spiritual purpose. It allows us to recognize and change our flaws, so that we can selflessly serve others with our special talents and abilities.
Hyper and dull energies are described as rajasic and tamasic, which fill us with too many desires and destruction. A rajasic state, for example can create a racing mind and the urge to fight as a way of responding to difficult situations. A tamasic state, leaves us feeling lethargic and passive in the face of challenge.
These three energies: sattwa, rajas and tamas are manifestations of AUM. We have all of them in different percentages, usually seventy percent sattvic. Rajas in a small proportion is beneficial, as it helps us to complete things and tamas in small proportions helps us to rest.
These energies fill us, depending on our diet and lifestyle. For example meditation, quieting the mind and body and sitting still, will impart a sattvic energy on us. A vegetarian diet will keep us sattvic. Helping others and being in nature are also beneficial. Stimulants will create rajasic energy, while heavy foods and drugs will create tamasic energy.
Our health is also related to a balance of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. These five elements are found in different proportions in an individual’s body, making up each unique constitution or prakruti, which can be described in terms of three doshas: data, pitta and kapha. Imbalances of these elements in an individual can throw him off of his doshic harmony, and result in disease or pain or trouble, also known as vikruti (the nature of imbalance).
Ayurveda describes doshas in three forms in the body: vata, pitta and kapha. Vata is composed of ether and air, light, cold, quick and changeable, representing movement. Thos with a strong vata dosha are slender, creative, energetic and lively. Vata has a strong influence on the other dosas, as well. Imbalances in vata can be pain, stress from always being ‘on the go’, and worry. It’s important for vata-prone individuals to keep a routine, slow down and make choices that bring warmth and stability. Pitta is mainly fire: passionate and hot, representing transformation. Pitta people are passionate and strong, with great concentration. When pitta is too strong, though it can flare up with rashes and hyperacidity, for example. To cool the pitta fire, bring in cooling foods, such as melons and cucumbers and cut out sours. It’s good to balance pitta with time by water and to balance rest with activity. Kapha is composed of water and earth, so strong, stable and protective. Kapha qualities include heavy, cold, soft, oily and slow, calm by nature, gentle and loyal. When kapha is imbalanced one can have excess mucous, gain weight easily or have asthma. To balance kapha, exercise regularly, use a net pot to clean the nasal passages, stimulate the senses with new experiences and eat light, dry and warm foods.
Disease is when the body is not in ease, when negative thoughts become negative emotion, then tension in the body. Some thoughts that stay with us long enough become bodily conditions, which are patterns of vibration that are being held onto. Luckily, we can change the directions of our thoughts. All disease starts with the mind. And likewise health and well-being starts with the mind.
Healthy expression is contrary to suppression and aggression. When we suppress emotions or use aggression, we create negative energy in the body. (When anger comes out, we should reconcile within 20 minutes or there can be damage on the liver, which affects the whole body, mind and spirit. Humans are created to help each other, not harm one another. )Sometimes we may overuse, misuse or not use the body, mind and sense organs in optimal way, creating more pain, and a treadmill cycle of pain. This can result in overall bad health, disease or negative behaviour. The body, mind and spirit are temples, which need to be kept pure like a temple. If we live in ease and respect, then disease is not possible.
Reconciliation and aware communication are foundations for improving health. It is important to be realistic about emotions and learn to move forward through healthy processing. Ayurveda teaches the many dangers that suppressing emotions can cause, also to the physical self. It is so important to let go, to process pain and if possible to come to a place of loving-kindess. In reconciliation wishing the other side to be happy and well and forgiving is very powerful. Thanking the other side for being a messenger of transformation, allowing growth, and for change through challenge to take shape is the next step.
It is imperative to work on self-improvement everyday and to become in alignment with the intelligence of the body. The body has the ability to heal itself under all conditions. Every night, before going to bed, we can ask ourselves some questions to recap the day and to better ourselves. Our bodies heal at night, so this exercise allows ultimate healing and space for realizing our fullest potential. We could ask, ‘How can I change my diet, behaviour and/or lifestyle to be more sattvic?’ ‘How can create a more clear and peaceful mind?’ ‘How can I extend joy, happiness and compassion to others?’ If we can write a protocol of how to deal with personal problems, how to get over them so that we are not stuck, so that we can let go, then we can achieve so much more on our life’s journey here and now on the planet.
Time is very short, so we must make every moment of the present count. We must live for today.
LAURA SHAZ is an Ayurvedic lifestyle consultant, a certified facilitator and mediator (with focus on groups in conflict through NVC/non-vioent communication/aware communication), a yoga instructor, massage therapist, educator and mother. She has studied and worked in the holistic field for over a decade, delving deeply into ancient traditions while interweaving modern approaches.
Laura’s interest in healing began while studying conflict resolution and mediation in Israel. While living in Israel and facilitating between Jewish and Arab youth, the healing powers of yoga and massage entered her life. She combined her innate abilities to communicate, along with her passion for soothing the body, mind and soul. In contrast to the pain and chaos in this conflict zone, these holistic therapies brought joy and freedom and allowed her to return to the true nature of the heart: love. Soon she began offering these teachings with her students with great results. In 2013 Laura went deeper into these ancient wisdoms while studying and living in Australia, Thailand and India.
Laura connects her vast experiences to bring her clients back to their natural state of balance and love, so that their bodies can heal themselves.