Author: Mary Westley
Part 3 is a about health as a daily choice. We are creatures of habit. What we say, think and do every day is largely based on habit. We say that’s who we are, but really it’s just our habits. Habits are not who we are and can be changed.
It doesn’t work in the bottle.
The doctrine of Ayurveda was compiled by ancient sages, known as Rishis to enable us to live healthily by accepting responsibility for our own wellbeing. Its daily and seasonal routines, dietary habits, therapeutic techniques and myriad of antidotes for imbalance support a healthy and happy life, if you choose to adopt them as a way of life. As Jack, the owner of a local health food shop used to say to me, “it doesn’t work in the bottle“. In this context illness or wellness then becomes the outcome of a conscious choice, every day, rather than an accident or good luck.
Prevention is always better than cure.
The first and primary purpose of Ayurveda therefore is preventative, to support and maintain our day to day health. Secondary is the treatment of ill-health or dis-ease that comes from being out of balance. The reverse of the western allopathic approach to medicine that we see today. In fact, at the Ayurveda Conference I attended in India in December 2015, Dr. Vasant Ladd said” Ayurveda is not a medicine, it is a way of life”. Ayur means life and veda means knowledge or science, so it is the knowledge or science of life.
Illness is Nature’s way of limiting our indulgences.
Ayurveda encourages the enjoyment of life and its pleasures up to the point where it interferes with our health. Indulging ourselves is generally regarded as a right or freedom and done for pleasure…or pain relief. However if we exceed our limits, lose the ability to enjoy life and cause ourselves greater pain, where is the freedom? In today’s world we are discovering one of the Laws of Nature…that our most fundamental limitation is our body and mind’s inability to endure our indulgences, whatever shape or form they may take. Illness is Nature’s way of forcing us to limit our indulgences. It’s a classic case of freedom versus responsibility. Either we restrict our freedom a little bit each day or Nature will come along and restrict it for us for days, weeks, months or even years at a time.
There are many pieces in the puzzle
From an Ayurvedic perspective the path to our optimal health and wellbeing begins with being aware of who we are, and understanding how all levels of our being- Body, Mind and Spirit – influence our state of balance. These different levels can be viewed as pieces of a jigsaw, and as we know, all the pieces are needed to create the whole picture. In the same way approaching our health and wellbeing wholistically in all areas of our life gives us a much greater chance of achieving our own optimal level of health and wellbeing.
Does this mean you have to lead a perfect life to have true health?
Fortunately it doesn’t. Ayurveda is about balance and rhythm rather than perfection and control. In fact the pursuit of perfection can in itself create a state of imbalance – especially for those well-endowed with Pitta. Instead, Ayurveda is for those who are ready to take responsibility for themselves, cultivate awareness of what does and doesn’t support their health and wellbeing, and make diet and lifestyle choices based on that awareness. I tend to suggest people use the 80/20 rule. Making good choices 80%of the time provides a level of resilience to compensate for the 20% indulgence. Enjoy!
Watch out for Part 4: The Ayurvedic disease Process
Your to-do list:
Our 2016 course programme is now available.
Subscribe to receive our latest news and receive a FREE Yoga Nidra audio.
The Power of Sankalpa
A Leap of Faith
Ashram life and what comes after…
The Science of Yoga & Ayurveda