The concept of health drastically changed for me when I discovered ayurveda. It gave me insights into the inner-workings of my body in ways I hadn’t experienced before. It opened my eyes to the connection between seemingly unrelated things and gave me the tools to help deal with them. So what has been so transformational about how ayurveda looks at health?
1. Health is not the absence of disease
Ayurveda defines disease development in 6 stages. In stages 1 and 2, imbalances are forming and growing in our bodies. And the more in tune we are with our being, the more and sooner we will start feeling that something is off. In stage 3, we become even more imbalanced as we experience more symptoms. Heart palpitations, anyone? By the time allopathic medicine puts a label on “what we have”, we’re often near or in stage 5 of disease development. Having a clean bill of health from our doctor doesn’t always mean that everything is peachy. There could be things brewing under the surface. Health is more than the absence of disease.
2. Health is a constant balancing act
Ayurveda defines health as the balanced state of doshas (bodily humors), digestive fire, tissues, proper elimination, and the blissful state of soul, senses and mind. Health with ayurveda is about balance. Let’s break it down. We’re each born with a unique proportion of 3 doshas: vata, pitta, kapha. Consider this your DNA, your blueprint. This unique proportion is our natural state. These doshas are responsible for our metabolic activities, and represent our physical processes, mental and emotional functioning. Our goal is to balance these doshas relative to what we were born with throughout each day throughout our lives. When our doshas are in balance, we’re in balance. When they go out of balance, we invite imbalances into our bodies, which over time could lead to disease if we don’t manage them. When we take in and digest the right foods, thoughts, emotions and sensory stimuli, and absorb them properly, things work like magic. This is super-important so I’ll say it again. We must ingest, digest and absorb properly anything we come in contact with. It’s much more than just food. It’s thoughts, emotions and sensory stimuli. Then the output of proper intake, transformation and assimilation should be a healthy body, soul, senses and mind.
3. The digestive process is key to health
To stay balanced, we need to take in the right things and experiences at the right time and in the right way, and expel what doesn’t serve us at the right time and in the right way. This is what the digestive process is all about. When this system breaks down, improperly digested particles wreak havoc inside of us. Our out-of-whack doshas spread into the weakest parts of our body, causing imbalances in our tissues, mind, and so on, which could potentially lead to disease. Balanced digestion is what we want. Imbalanced digestion may show up as constipation, diarrhea or notable time gaps between eliminations. This also means that when imbalances and diseases develop, gut health is also affected. Therefore, disease management should include managing digestive health. Consider this: you produce about 95% of serotonin, a “happy hormone”, in your gut, not in your brain. What this tells you is that addressing mental health only at the mind level is not enough. Improving digestion is critical too. Allopathic medicine is starting to get on board with the importance of gut health. Check out this recent study on gut bacteria and Covid-19. Then, learn about a “newly discovered” neuron circuit that connects your gut and your brain, and the connection between gut bacteria and Parkinson’s. Or, read about how gut health can boost athletic performance. So, don’t be shy if your doctor or health practitioner asks about your poop. It gives them information about your health.
4. The concept of self-healing
Ayurveda has a concept called self-healing. Our body has the ability to heal itself if we give it the • proper attention (e.g., closely listening to our body’s signals), • care (e.g., nutrition, exercise), and • time (e.g., rest, sleep, lifestyle) it needs to recover. This concept works best before an imbalance becomes a disease. It’s always easier to reverse an imbalance than it is to wipe out a disease. That’s why ayurveda is so helpful in prevention. Not convinced that self-healing is possible? You might appreciate this article by an ER doctor on the notion that our organs have their own consciousness and we can talk to them. You'll never look at your #health the same way after reading this! #wellness Click To Tweet For one, I’m glad to see allopathic medicine and natural, holistic medicine starting to work more and better together. I’m also encouraged by the fact that modern science is starting to prove these ancient health concepts right. Each type of medicine has a place in the overall care of a person, and I hope to see more and better collaboration between these 2 systems, processes and practitioners. Image by Roger Brown, Pexels Disclaimer: this blog is not intended as medical advice.
Image by Rodnae Productions, Pexels