Disclaimer: I am not a trained medical professional. I am not a medical doctor. The therapy described in this article is to be used at your own risk. Always monitor your health signs diligently through your doctor whenever doing any alternative therapy, and stop if there is any pain or discomfort.
Ayurveda (ayur=life, veda=knowledge) is based on the philosophy that the body has a tremendous capacity to heal itself, and that the medicine that body needs is found, in its most potent form, right here in Nature. Ayurveda deals with the disease holistically, and believes that disease is an imbalance in ones doshas (the energies or vital currents that circulate in one’s body). In contrast western medicine deals with diseases using compartmentalized knowledge, often attacking the problem at the wrong end of the stick, instead of treating the root cause.
Ayurveda is not about prescribing you potions, which is what today’s self-proclaimed ayurvedic doctors do. Ayurveda is a complete re-write of your body and mind. This requires a change in life style – correct diet, correct exercise, correct breathing, correct posture, correct state of mind. If any one of these is not in balance, it can manifest as a disease.
Ayurveda is an ancient Hindu science, and like most things in Hindu culture the origin of Ayurveda is said to be of cosmic origins (i.e. from beyond this world). It is said to have been handed down from Brahma to Dhanvantari. Dhanvantari, the progenitor of Ayurveda, himself originated from the churning of the cosmic Ocean of Milk. The Ocean of Milk is a symbolic reference to “energy“, and the substances that issue forth from the churning of the ocean is symbolic reference to energy condensing and manifesting as “matter“. Similar to E=mc2 (i.e. matter = condensed energy). Hindu thought takes it a step further, that energy = condensed thought. And thus the importance placed on yoga (science of the mind and its relationship with the body and spirit) in effecting any great change.
If you feel something is wrong, then start now to change your lifestyle. Don’t wait for your organs to be at the brink of failure or become beyond repair.
People often wait till they have fully diagnosed the disease and believe that modern medicine has an exclusive when it comes to curing things, and turn to alternative healing only as a last minute desperate measure. Until then, they will spend months of doctors visits (and bills) to diagnose the root cause. Modern science is limited by the technology it uses. Technology serves as the extended eyes and ears of humans that can peer into the deep beyond the naked eye. It has a limitation into how far it can peer. Just as today’s technology reveals there is more to some disease than the technology of 10 years ago, so also 10 years in the future. Just imagine before MRI, X-Ray, catheters, advanced lab diagnostics and research equipment. With the exception of say parasite-borne diseases, science hardly makes it down to the root cause (like in diseases due to imbalances in body).
I’m not discouraging anyone from modern medicine (a proper diagnosis can help a lot), but just saying don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I’d argue the other way around also, don’t blindly restrict yourself to alternative medicine. There may exist a complete cure in modern medicine, that you might overlook due to your exclusivity with alternative medicine only.
It shouldn’t take a disease to destroy your body to tell you to start living a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes I think it is one’s own laziness also: people would rather go to a dozen medical appointments, rather than to take the bull by the horns and change their lifestyle. Which brings us to the next point.
Diseases only appear to manifest overnight. In reality, the damage to the body leading to the diseases started long before. People neglect their body chemistry over years to the extent of allowing it to become severely imbalanced. Then… they suddenly demand the balance to be set straight with some sort of quick fix. No doing. If it takes that long for a disease to manifest, it will take at least half as long to restore the balance.
Be patient. You may be putting in months of effort with no progress, but suddenly one day it will reach a threshold and trigger it into action. Your organ took years of abuse before it reached a certain threshold where it suddenly decided to shutdown right? Similarly, it would need at least half as long to give it your fullest attention through feedback, by your focus, attention, love and affection,… and when it reaches a certain threshold it will suddenly one day “wake up” and move into action, cell-by-cell turning on, rejuvenating.
Before starting on Ayurvedic therapy, it is important to first consciously acknowledge that there are no magic pills, potions, herbs, or miracle cures. It is all about putting in the effort. The body has a tremendous capacity to heal itself. It’s just that we are too distracted to focus our attention towards healing. When we ourselves aren’t putting sincere effort, why expect anything more from the body? If you give the organ the indication that your other priorities are more important (like work, watching TV, chit-chat, etc), then it will take it so and continue to shutdown.
We all give so much attention to maintain our cars, houses, and lawns…. but hardly do we spend even a fraction of the time for regular routine maintenance of our body. We totally abuse it by shoving down junk food or excessive food, no proper exercise, no proper breathing, no proper diet, improper timing, no spending of quality time. Our body is assaulted constantly without a break. Our mind is bombarded and hijacked by a barrage of input (television, gossip, work, etc.).
Just the smallest effort sends a strong signal to the body/mind, relieving it from the barrage of input, to let it do its regulatory/housekeeping job of rectifying and restoring any imbalance. Start small and do it. Also, regular small practices are more effective than erratic big undertakings. Like any exercise, the key is regularity and discipline.
It is a tragedy that people are so brainwashed by the hope presented by the western medical industry (which continuously churns out drugs), that they believe there does exist a magic pill that will cure them, that they will spend thousands of dollars over a lifetime in trying out various pills. No matter how the soothsayer or pharmaceutical company sugar coats the pill, while curing one part of the body, it will more than likely severely assault another part.
The liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas are the ones most assaulted because these organs constantly detoxify the very powerful and dangerous chemicals you throw into your body. Remember, just like any piece of machinery, every body part has a lifetime. The more you take care of it, the longer it will continue to work happily without a problem for your entire lifetime.
Before you start
Before you start (this may seem like a repeat of the previous section, but worth stressing again):
- First consciously acknowledge that there are no magic pills, potions, herbs, or miracle cures.
- Don’t waste too much time researching articles, searching for a miracle cure, or the miracle doctor. It’s all about effort.
- No effort goes to waste. Even the smallest effort gets acknowledged and amplified by the body, which immediately goes into action towards acknowledging and healing the disease.
- Don’t expect results immediately, it can take significant time to heal.
- The body-mind has tremendous power to heal itself. It’s just that we are too distracted. Turn it inwards, and it will start healing/repairing itself.
The entire basis of Ayurveda is based on premise of restoring “balance”: the balance of the five elements of nature that constitutes us: the pancha bhootas.
Understanding just that concept will greatly help you put together your Ayuvedic lifestyle (more than any amount of consulting or researching articles).
The Pancha Bhootas
The Pancha Bhootas, and their corresponding actuators are:
|Earth||Minerals||Food: balanced diet|
|Fire||Energy||Exercise: hatha yoga|
|Water||Water||Hydration: water therapy|
|Space||Mind||Meditation: raja/jnana/bhakti yoga|
Ayurveda is a holistic process. Balancing the five elements of nature requires a well-rounded effort.
For example, an excellent diet (Earth Element) while not exercising (Fire Element) is no use. Or an excellent diet and exercising (Earth and Fire Element), but when the mind is stressed (Space Element) is again no use, it can also lead to disease. All Five Elements, the Pancha Bhoota, have to be addressed.
The Tri Doshas
The Pancha Bhootas functioning in different proportions together make up the next most important concept of Ayurveda – the three vital “energies” (or doshas). The Tri Doshas, and their related elements are:
|Vata||Air and Space|
|Pitta||Fire and Water|
|Kapha||Water and Earth|
When a ayurvedic doctor diagnoses a person, he tries to find out in what proportion the patient’s doshas are distributed (or out of balance), and appropriately prescribes the proper holistic treatments (dealing with all five elements) to help one return the three doshas back to a reasonable state of balance. There are specific dosha inducing foods and asanas that the ayurvedist will prescribe. Listed in the references below are sites that will give you these.
A perfect being (healthy in mind, body, and spirit) is one who has all three doshas in balance.
The Three Gunas
The Tri Doshas influence the material make-up or constituent of the body (prakriti), which in turn influences ones pyschological make up or tendencies (gunas). The Tri Gunas are:
|Sattvic||essence, light, clarity, understanding, oneness|
|Rajasic||activity, inspiration, action, differentiation|
|Tamasic||inertia, doubt, darkness, attachment|
- More on Ayurveda / Pancha Bhoota.
- Ayurveda Secrets of Healing – by Maya Tiwari – this is an excellent book. It is not rated too well on Amazon.com I think mainly because it is too deep and uses lot of terminology not familiar to westerners. She herself survived terminal cancer. Cancer had spread throughout her body and doctors had given her only few months to live. So with her body already suffering under the pain of repeated chemo and radiation treatments, opted to be discharged so as to die in peace. She rented a log cabin in the woods to live out her last few days alone. There she cooked meals of fresh vegetables and spent lot of time in silence (amounting to meditation – though never formally trained in meditation nor ayurveda). One day when she woke up, she felt good, she felt the “cancer was gone” (in just two months). The doctors were amazed, and asked her to continue whatever she was doing. She went back to her father (in Guyana were she grew up), learned about Hindu culture, and went to India where she learnt Sanskrit and Ayurveda, and… wrote this book. She is a brahmacharini, her teacher was Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
- Ayurveda – Healing Hands – a very nice and simple website that describes Ayurveda very crisply.
- Dangerous Prescription – PBS