Ayurveda - The Natural Way of Life
Ayurveda is an Indian medical science that originated over 5000 years ago. The written source of this science is ancient books of knowledgeknown as the Vedas. The Vedas contain practical and scientific information on a wide variety of issues including philosophy, logic, engineering, agriculture, economics and politics, among others. These areas are fascinating subjects in their own right, but this article explores only one of the Vedic branches - that of health, Ayurveda.
Vedic knowledge propounds the principle of natural balance within the body and harmony with the environment. People are seen as an integral part of their habitat - not as a separate entity from the natural world. Obtaining and maintaining balance within the body and mind, and with the external environment, is one of the goals of this knowledge. Living in harmony with nature and according to natural principles ensures complete physical health and peace of mind.
Modern life often violates the principles of natural living. We work long hours in offices with artificial light and air conditioning systems. We rush from one mundane task to the next while being bombarded with advertising and constant noise, and absorbing pollution through the air and water. Pure water and air are becoming scarce resources in an environment that is becoming increasingly toxic to the humans that live in it.
Our lifestyles are often as detrimental to our health as the environment. We don't have time to prepare breakfast, eat a fast food lunch at our desk and a pre-prepared dinner in front of the television. Coffee keeps us alert, alcohol â¬Ërelaxes' us and drugs treat our ailments. When the weekend arrives we are so exhausted that we often don't even have the time to really enjoy it! And then it is Monday again with that familiar feeling of dread - we are back in the race of trying to make enough money to buy processed food, gadgets to save us time and amusements to distract us from the monotony of our lives. In our efforts to seek pleasure, we are working hard to achieve personal suffering and poor health.
So why are people in modern times, with all the conveniences of technology to make life easier, realizing that life has lost all joy? It is because we have lost contact with nature - and we often feel empty and unsatisfied, as well as physically sick for reasons we can't really identify. We are overlooking the fact that humans are as much a part of Mother Earth as all of the other species. People have forgotten the once instinctive ancient knowledge about the cycles and rhythms of natural living.
Instead of being in harmony with Earth, we have adopted artificial practices that disturb the equilibrium of the mind and body. Despite the luxuries of modern times, people are anxious and depressed. We can't sleep, concentrate or relax. The imbalance in our lives manifests in addiction, disease and death much sooner than our anticipated lifespan.
This ancient knowledge has not been lost - it has just been ignored over generations and is now unfamiliar. People are raised without a basic education of how the body functions, what is beneficial and detrimental from both the physical and psychological perspectives, how to prevent illness and how to achieve peace and happiness. This is like buying a brand new car and instead of reading or understanding the manual, just jumping behind the steering wheel and taking off to see how fast it can go.
Without knowledge of how to check your new car's water, oil, tires or fuel, it will not be long before the car is not performing at its peak. Sooner or later it will begin rattling and jolting and eventually the engine will seize up and the car will be useless. It might look almost immaculate on the surface but ignoring the signs of rust, putting in the wrong fuel and not checking the basic systems will lead to irreversible damage.
The benefits of the car can then no longer be enjoyed unless you spend a lot of money on fixing or replacing the parts. The car becomes a liability instead of an asset - it takes up space in your garage, drains your bank account and doesn't even take you to your destination safely. It is like a sick body that can no longer enjoy the advantages offered by life.
The human body is a far more complex and valuable vehicle than a car. You may be able to just dump a car when it becomes a liability and buy a new one, but a body is irreplaceable. However, some people seem to be more concerned with cleaning and checking their car than looking after themselves physically and mentally. Or they believe that their body and mind are the domain of experts and prefer to leave them to a doctor or psychologist.
Living naturally according to some simple principles can prevent the need for expensive medical treatment or suffering needlessly from debilitating conditions. Learning to listen to your body and reading the signals of distress can help you maintain health, helping you lead a more productive and contented life.
So is this ancient wisdom secret, or only available to a fortunate few? Or are the principles hard to comprehend and difficult to apply? You will be pleasantly surprised to know it is easily learnt by anyone and can be adapted into your life starting from today. It does not require any fancy equipment or expert knowledge, and costs no more (and probably less) than what you already spend on groceries. Maintaining your health is based on nothing more complex than understanding the characteristics of your body and qualities of the food you eat. Many of the remedies for common ailments can be simply and quickly prepared in your own kitchen with widely available herbs.
For human beings, the instruction manual for natural living is called Ayurveda, which is presented here in a simplified form. Understanding this philosophy of life enables you to become your own â¬Ëhealer'. You learn about your body, how it functions and how to treat it through diet and herbal remedies. In fact, you also become your own dietician, personal trainer, counselor or psychologist, stylist and beautician! Ayurveda is a unified system that encompasses all these aspects. The magic of it is that it involves nothing more expensive or complex than adapting certain diet and lifestyle routines.
This systematic approach includes gentle exercise, and daily practices that vary according to season. The purpose of these living habits is to encourage longevity, vitality and physical and mental strength. As a bonus, it also provides peace of mind and balanced emotions. With such perfect health, you are able to not only work more efficiently, you are also able to totally relax when you want to. You become the master - not the slave - of your body and mind.
Ayurvedic applications can be used to explain and treat any physical or psychological ailment. There are no side effects or negative environmental impacts from the treatments, and rather than just the symptoms, the root cause of illness is treated. All medicinal preparations used (herbs, plants, foods and minerals) are already found in the natural environment and are inexpensive.
Of course, just as your car may sometimes need to be looked at by a mechanic despite regular maintenance, you may still need to see a doctor occasionally for specialist treatment or guidance on health issues. However, these visits should become much less frequent, and you will be more aware of what is happening to your body during treatment.
In society today, it is often difficult to avoid some things that disturb our natural balance. To follow the Ayurvedic principles, we don't need to reject modern life or live in a grass hut or on a deserted island. We often don't really have a choice, and we shouldn't have to forfeit the advantages of modern life simply because it has so many disadvantages. Instead, we can utilize this discipline to learn how to identify imbalances in our body. We can also learn what to do in order to reverse such disturbances and stabilize our body and mind. This can be done prior to becoming seriously ill and miserable. Ayurveda should be integrated into our lives to attain health, happiness and peace.