What does it mean to identify something that is all-encompassing, comprehensive, and tackles the most fundamental question about the individual self on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels? This is why limiting Ayurveda to be a therapeutic system limits the scope of what it provides. The core of Ayurveda is that it recommends a way of living that extends beyond only treating diseases. Instead, it distils the core of our biological, psychological, emotional, and spiritual personae to arrive at a way of living that allows us to recognise our vitality. This is a road that sage-physicians set out thousands of years ago and is still being followed today.
Values – Integrated
All the three classical Ayurvedic texts namely ‘Sushruta Samhita’ ‘Charaka Samhita’ and ‘Ashtangahridaya Samhita’ by the ‘Ayurvedic Trinity Sushruta, Charaka and Vagbhata respectively lay great emphasis on the code of ethics to be followed by practitioners of Ayurveda including physicians, surgeons, scholars, students, nurses and patients. There is no deviation from these underlying ethics in any authentic practice of the Ayurvedic system of healing. This also necessitates a strict adherence to the physician’s instructions without any compromise on the part of a patient in order to ensure full benefit of the healing process. Besides, with spirituality and a holistic view of life being integral to the healing process, universal values are a part and parcel of Ayurveda and this offers a new and rejuvenated approach to life that is tuned to the natural order of things.
Ayurveda dates back more than 2000 years originating in the Vedas, the ancient Hindu texts that contain practical information related to almost all aspects of life and is that branch of the Vedas which delves into the essence of right living and healing. Literally meaning the ‘knowledge or Science (‘veda’) of life’ (‘ayur), Ayurveda is an amalgamation of different knowledge systems that combine to offer a right and healthy way of life that is disease free. Some of the underlying principles of Ayurveda were laid down in the oldest known Ayurvedic texts namely ‘Sushruta Samhita’ by Sushruta, ‘Charaka Samhita’ by Charaka and ‘Ashtangahridaya Samhita’ by Vagbhata. These are considered the foundation texts of Ayurveda and what they reveal is an amazing insight into the human body based on pure observation and deep reflections without the aid of any of the tools that are available today. The findings and suggested techniques also reveal penetrating foresight for they seem precursors to many modern medicinal principles in the area of surgery and human anatomy.
Nature is the core of the Ayurvedic healing process. This means little or no dependence on chemicals and their toxic effects. Everything that Ayurveda prescribes is based on a scientific study of Nature: the herbs and their healing properties, the natural seasons and cycles and our own bio-rhythms tuned to them. The foods and medicines that Ayurveda prescribes are rooted in a knowledge base gathered from studying thousands and thousands of plants, medicinal herbs and our body’s response to them based on mutual chemistry.
Today, when we are caught up in the compulsions of a stress-inducing lifestyle, health frequently refers to the presence or absence of specific physical and mental disorders or diseases. It is frequently the disintegration of our bodily and mental health that prompts us to seek help. However, contemporary medicine’s strategy of treating individual disorders related to certain body parts might neglect the critical totality and hence overlook the fundamental cause of our problem. What is required is an all-encompassing approach to healthy living and healing, which is where Ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing and living system, comes in. In consequence, Ayurveda causes us to pause and consider certain critical issues about our everyday living patterns, which are linked to our total mental and physical health.
1.Are we eating properly?
Food is one of the most important components of our lives, fundamental to our physical and emotional well-being. Despite this, we rarely pay close attention to what we put into our bodies because we are influenced by a commercial environment, the hurry of our lifestyle, and our lack of awareness. Ayurveda categorises and prescribes food based on the five natural elements, the three Doshas or physical constitutions that are related to the elements, and the ‘Gunas’ or natural forces that regulate the body and mind. Given a person’s body type, a certain diet is advised. Ayurveda also strongly advises eating fresh and organic foods. More significantly, Ayurveda promotes mindful or meditative eating, which allows the body to absorb the whole essence of food in an attentive, completely engaged, and respectful manner.anner.
2. Do we nourish our minds?
The mind and body are inextricably linked. What influences the mind influences the body, and what influences the body influences the mind. While contemporary medicine strives to provide easy remedies to many physical diseases, a comprehensive approach to the mind remains a struggle. The bulk of mental illnesses, such as depression, rely on chemically induced treatments, such as antidepressants. Ayurveda, on the other hand, views the mind as part of the total integrated system of human existence and hence provides a natural, radical, and lifestyle-inclusive approach. Yoga and meditation, which help us recover inside, when paired with the correct nutrition and breathing patterns for our bodies, provide a healthy mind in a healthy body.
3. Do we pay enough attention to our bodies?
The body is an amazing machine that uses its own self-healing mechanisms to fix itself. It starts sending us signals to sit up and pay notice when there is a problem despite its own healing procedures. Despite this, we continue to ignore what our bodies are saying to us. We also progressively remove ourselves from our bodies’ fundamental requirements for lifestyle and societal reasons. This results in the suppression of physical impulses, which leads to the buildup of poisons and their expression as illnesses. We then run to seek medical help. Ayurveda teaches us to be more aware of our bodies and their signals so that disease-free living becomes a natural process.
4. Do we know what our body type is?
The essence of proper nutrition and healing is knowing what suits our bodies because each individual is distinct physically and emotionally based on his or her body type. This, in turn, is determined by the bio-energies in our bodies known as Doshas (Pitha, Kapha, and Vata), which, in conjunction with the five elements of nature, form each person’s mental, physical, emotional, and physical constitution. Thus, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, what Ayurveda offers as a lifestyle solution and a therapy for specific diseases is based on a detailed understanding of the body.
5. Do we notice our breathing pattern?
Breathing is the most crucial bodily movement that governs all elements of our health. Which nostril is active at any given time? What is proper breathing? How does breathing affect our daily lives? These are the kinds of questions we rarely ask ourselves. Nonetheless, they are critical indications of our health consciousness. Ayurveda provides a thorough understanding and description of the proper breathing methods for our everyday activities, which are carefully tailored to the general environment as well as our bio-energies.
6. How do we go to sleep?
Most of us are aware that enough sleep restores body tissues; yet, we frequently fail to comprehend the implications of how much to sleep, when to sleep, how to sleep, what food to consume before sleeping, and associated activities such as waking up. Ayurveda enables us to examine these components of sleep in a scientific method that is linked to our total health and appropriate for our individual constitution.
We are all part of a Universal Life Force that pervades all living things on Earth.
This is the basic conviction of the Ayurvedic method. But where it goes beyond being an esoteric idea is in how it incorporates this premise into its therapeutic and healing practises. With Nature being the most obvious manifestation of this Universal Life Force, Ayurveda assists us in being aware of our connection to Nature, its elements and cycles, which are reflected in our own bodies. Ayurveda assists us in tapping into the proper energies for living well by teaching us to recognise the existence of these Natural components in ourselves.
The Elements and Body Types
Ayurveda’s therapeutic concept is based on the idea that our bodies are made up of all five elements (Panchamahabhoota) found in nature – Ether, Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Earth. These components, as well as their mix or proportion, define the composition of our bodies. They are therefore classified into three “humours” or bodily kinds, or what Ayurveda refers to as the Doshas. There are three sorts of Doshas (Tridoshas), and when combined with the ‘Universal Force’ that lives in every living species, these Doshas form the bio-energy of each body. These bio-energies or Doshas are:
Vata is made of air and regulates all physical motions.
Pitta: Pitta is made of fire and water and regulates heat, metabolism, digestion, and other mind-body transformation processes.
Kapha is a watery humour that links the elements in the body.
A big part of our sicknesses may be ascribed to a lack of proper attention to our bodily signals produced by a Dosha imbalance, which results in the buildup of pollutants and the blockage of energy centres in the body. In Ayurveda, the restorative process includes clearing these obstructions and poisons by teaching us to listen to our bodies and take remedial measures based on our Dosha.
Ayurveda, medicine, and healing processes
So Ayurveda may be categorised into Curative and Eliminative processes according to the bodily state induced by the imbalance in the Doshas:.
1. Curative or Samana: This is used to treat acute diseases and illnesses and involves all or any of the following seven methods: Panchana (using digestives or medicinal herbs), Deepana (producing heat by raising digestive fire), Kshut (fasting), Thrit (managing fluid intake), Vyayama (exercises), Athapa (sun bathing), and Marutha (breathing exercises).