“East is east and west is west, And never the twain shall meet.”
– Rudyard Kipling
If you live in the western world, you probably grew up believing that there is no connection between your mind and your body – they can’t and don’t influence each other. For that matter, different physical systems (respiratory, intestinal, etc.) don’t affect each other, either – this is the teaching of allopathic medicine, which treats symptoms rather than try to identify the root source of the problem, and correct that imbalance.
Eastern medicine readily recognizes a partnership between mind and body. Furthermore, “you are what you think” – thoughts have energy, and when you concentrate or focus your mind, you can direct a field of your own energy outward, into the universe.
The term Ayurveda comes from ancient Sanscrit, and means “science of life,” according to no less an authority than Deepak Chopra, MD.
“Freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body,” advises Chopra.
This is why people who practice yoga and spiritual elevation speak of “finding their balance,” or “grounding” or “locating their center of being.”
The good news is that restoring equipoise between your more-powerful mind and physical body is right at hand, and doesn’t have to be costly.
Here are seven of Dr. Chopra’s Ayurvedic tips for attaining perfect health:
Still the “monkey mind.” Here’s how.
- Eat a variety of well-prepared foods.
The six Ayurvedic tastes are sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Including them all in each meal will ensure that you are getting nourishment from all major food groups and the nutrients they represent. Eating all six tastes promotes a feeling of satisfaction that reduces between-meal cravings. You will eat less without feeling deprived.
- Get enough good sleep.
Physical healing and rejuvenation occur during deep, restful sleep. Deprive yourself of enough sleep – 6-8 hours for most people – and you will stop your body’s ability to treat itself.
- Live in tune with nature.
Although it’s very healthy to go outside and walk in the trees, living in tune with nature has a specific meaning in Ayurveda: what you desire is what you need. In other words, a well-balanced person will, naturally, not crave junk food, excessive alcohol, or punishing drugs.
Science has proven that even moderate exercise, on a regular basis, works wonders on restoring physical and mental fitness. Remember to consult your doctor before beginning any new workout program, and take it easy, gaining strength and endurance gradually. Your body will be able to process oxygen more efficiently, and you’ll just feel better, once the temporary muscle ache goes away. Remember to “train, don’t strain.”
- Strengthen your digestion.
Avoid eating standing up or while distracted. Be mindful and grateful for what you put in your mouth. Never eat when you are upset, and only munch when you are actually hungry. Perform a daily self-massage.
- Go with the flow.
Like the martial art Aikido, Aryuveda uses the natural force of an assault to redirect the blow, render it harmless, and neutralize the attacker. Nature is well-organized, wise and powerful; far better to align with it, rather than fight against it to achieve a desired outcome – such is Aryuvedic thought.
One of the world’s greatest blues singers, Janis Joplin, summed up this last technique very well indeed:
“Take it easy – but take it!”