More than 5,000 years ago, before modern science, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and effective mind-body health systems. Through deep states of consciousness, they cognized the laws of nature and left behind one of the oldest known medical texts known in human history, the Artharva Veda. Many of the medical practices, especially those addressing daily problems, are still used in Western medicine today.
More than a system of treating illness, Ayurveda offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full potential. It goes beyond the physical body, realizing that we need to address the health of the mind, body, spirit, and environment so that we can experience a state of wholeness.
The guiding principle of Ayurveda is the interconnection of all things. Ayurveda describes disease as the final expression of toxic accumulations in the mind-body physiology. Symptoms and sickness are the body’s signal that we need to restore balance, eliminate whatever is causing the blockages, and reestablish the healthy flow of energy and information.
Ayurveda Focuses on the Individual
While Ayurveda recognizes that we are all part of a greater whole, it also recognizes that we are our own unique individual expression. All health-related measures must be based on an understanding of an individual’s unique mind-body constitution or dosha. By understanding one’s own dosha type, we can begin to understand which foods, herbs, physical activities, and therapies are most likely to help bring us back to a state of harmony.
Ayurveda looks at the whole human experience to understand where the root of an imbalance may be contributing to dis-ease. In ancient times, a doctor would consider the patient’s lifestyle activities, diet, stressful events, beliefs, environment, and mind-body constitution before recommending a treatment plan.
Ayurveda is not meant to replace Western medicine. Rather, it is a powerful ally. Ayurveda’s central principle is that we should make use of whatever available healing modalities there are that will restore health and balance to the mind and body. Integrating this wisdom with the best of modern medicine gives us optimal opportunity for good health and well-being.
“Everything is an experience in consciousness.”—Deepak Chopra
The spiritual underpinning of Ayurveda is that fundamental reality is a state of pure consciousness or pure awareness that is beyond word and thought. This is a state of peace, bliss, compassion, and freedom. To reach this state is the goal of life.
As we go about our human experience, we become entangled in our ego and limited self-identity, which causes suffering and unhappiness. We forget who we truly are. To end this suffering, we must realize our true nature, which is pure consciousness—infinite and not bound in space and time. Experiences rise and subside, but our being is ever present the whole time.
Meditation is a key component to Ayurveda. The practice of meditation helps us realize we are not our thoughts and emotions. When we become aware of being aware, we realize the silent witness of our thoughts, emotions, and limited ego. Through the practice of meditation, we become more mindful and have greater ability to make conscious-based decisions that support optimal health, vitality, and joy thereby improving all aspects of our human experience. Yoga—or yoke—is the unification of mind, body, and spirit.
Every choice we make produces sensory input to the brain through our senses. Every activity is recorded in the mind, which influences the body. How we interact with the physical world and choose our experiences activates our genes.
As Deepak Chopra wisely says, “Your body is a verb, not a noun.” It’s constantly responding and changing with every choice we make. Our biology is affected by sleep, food, relationships, daily routines, sensory experiences, work, and social interactions. Our vitality is influenced through the power of our own awareness.