Ayurveda is the oldest continuing health science in the world. The central principle of Ayurvedic science is that we are all unique with an individual constitution with our own physical and psychological nature. Hence the Ayurvedic approach treats all aspects of a person, as anything that affects the mind and which eventually affects the body. The Sanskrit word Ayurveda, means the science or wisdom of life.
It is one of the few sciences that treats the individual through a thorough assessment of a person’s unique makeup and circumstances. The individual is examined within the broader context of their life and all factors influencing their wellbeing are taken into consideration. The success of the Ayurvedic tradition comes through the promotion of balanced living and is founded on the principle that nothing functions in isolation.
While it is an ancient science from an ancient culture, in today’s throwaway and quick fix culture, the perennial wisdom of seeing the individual as a whole and as part of his or environment, is fundamental to long term, sustainable wellbeing and happiness.
Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old philosophy based on a deep understanding about the human body as a whole, encompassing the mind, spirit, and emotions. It embraces medical science, philosophy, psychology as well as astrology and astronomy. Yoga and meditation, now widely embraced by westerners, are both key parts of Ayurveda. However, one does not need to subscribe to the spiritual beliefs on which it is based in order to benefit from it.
Ayurveda and the Modern World
In today’s fast paced high-pressure modern world, stress and burnout are becoming an epidemic. Nearly 80% of people experience physical symptoms caused by stress. Sleep deprivation, over exposure to media, financial pressures, poor nutrition, work pressures and relationship problems are all causing serious health issues. And too often people are turning to quick fixes, such as medication, instead of dealing with the underlying problems, so they unfortunately end up in a spiral of bad health and compromised wellbeing.
The three main goals of Ayurveda are to preserve the health of a healthy person, to prevent disease and to promote longevity through improved quality of life in mind, body and spirit. Health is defined as much more than just the absence of disease. One of the great scholars of Ayurveda defined health in this way:
“Health is the state of equilibrium of doshas (biological humor), agnis (transformative physiological system functions), dhatus (tissues and organs), and malas (metabolic byproducts), along with sensorial, mental and spiritual well being.” – Sushruta
It is a sustainable system of healing that is available to all and works in harmony with the natural world. Ayurvedic healing tools are easily available herbs, oils and food. The central message of Ayurveda is: “Let food be your medicine and kitchen be your first pharmacy.”
Creating the Habits of Balanced Living
Ayurveda focuses on the art of balanced living, as nothing functions in isolation and imbalance often result in disorder and illness. Establishing a daily routine that create habits of self-care is seen as a sacred duty.
To create these habits, it helps to understand the fundamental elements of the complex system that is Ayurveda. The classical elements of Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth form the building blocks of all existence. The Ayurvedic belief is that the human body is made of the same elements as all of nature, and most peoples’ bodies express a predominance of one element. This results in a particular physical shape, appetite and personality that constitute one’s dosha. The Doshas are different combinations of the five elements and their properties, and when in balance, maintains well-being.