The more I study ayurveda the more I appreciate simplicity. It is a way of living for me and it is a very powerful way of healing. I think it is one of the keys for happiness.
When I read my first textbook of ayurveda, just out of curiosity, by Dr Robert Svoboda I felt something really important was coming my way. It was a start of a new life which finally brought health and happiness. It was a journey that took me from complicated to simple by looking at the whole picture of my life all at once.
The years of study of ayurveda that followed took me almost to exasperation because there was so much to learn. Thousands of years of application of healing knowledge seemed too hard to grasp by someone out of the context with Indian culture. But I kept studying somehow, maybe instinctively, knowing that there was something special about it that would at some point make sense.
During my studies the information overload starting from considering the universe from a whole new perspective, sanskrit, metaphors and all that jazz not only from the field of ayurveda but also from mainstream medicine and nutrition made me believe that healing was a very complicated process. I started understanding how the body is an extremely intricate organism working in relation to the environment, that it is in constant change and that it is not a mechanical system of parts working together. It is a highly intelligent and adaptable union of body-mind-spirit that has to be approached with its uniqueness from any other entity in mind. The more I learned the more I feared I would never be able to achieve results in my future profession.
The break through came on my third year of studying for a degree in Ayurveda. By-hearting all the information for two years had been tiring and that knowledge was not satisfying me much. There was still something that took me back to the classes and that was the same feeling that I had had in the beginning when I read my first book on ayurveda years before. When I meditated on this feeling I came to realise something very important which would change my relationship with everything. I realised that true healing, true ayurveda is a system of medicine based on feeling, not knowing. In other words I started feeling ayurveda. In order to practice ayurveda you need to truly feel yourself and the environment you operate in. All the knowledge about right diet and lifestyle, herbs, therapies and cleansing is very important but not as important as knowing that the basic healing principle is based on a simple feeling.
To be more precise what this means is that the body regulates itself based on your feelings. If you feel hot, your body will make adjustments to cool down. If you feel tired your body and mind gives you cues to take action for rest. If you feel dry you get signs to moisturise or drink more water, or both. In other words if a feeling is not pleasant it can be balanced with an opposite “feeling”.
The body and mind have their mechanisms to set balance to opposites. We have stress and relaxation response (sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system), we have anabolic and catabolic activities, we have hydration and dehydration, we have sleep and wake etc. This is how Nature has made us, to balance between opposite qualities or feelings. The moment I felt this it was suddenly easy to start navigating between disease and health in reference to all treatment modalities we use: diet, lifestyle, herbs, relaxation treatments and detoxing.
Simplicity also means adapting to the cycles of nature. The art of living is finding your balance through feeling your qualities and living them according to the requirements of cosmic cycles of days, nights and seasons. Each of these periods bring about new qualities that we feel. Like summer is warm and winter is cold. Night time is for sleeping because we feel heavy and day time for activities because we have more energy. When we go against these rhythms our relationship with the environment becomes challenging and we start feeling things that are not pleasant. Once we are in perfect connection with Nature the body’s task to stay healthy becomes easy. We start craving things and activities that promote health and wellbeing like the food that grows in that season. In spring greens and sprouts become very attractive and heavy items like dairy and meat get harder to digest. There is also a natural tendency to clear the body, fast and detox a bit.
This is what this spring season requires for us to do. Eat light and loads of greens. It is, in fact, what grows now out there: not much but it’s very green. When in sync health is maintained throughout all periods, we avoid seasonal disorders and tolerate stress better.
We all used to sync with Nature’s cycles and not even so long time before. Go back a few generations and there was no other way than to live a simple life. In fact we did not have lifestyle disorders of this scale. It is time we returned back to simple living – which by the way does not mean to retreat into a country dwelling off the grid – by listening the feelings of our bodies and minds and what the environment, our activities and our food offer to balance that. With this approach we can live even in a fast paced and demanding culture. If life has a potential of being stressful the most important thing is to make sure we take relaxation in equal portion.
If life gets complicated the best way to get back in balance and wellbeing is to simply to simplify. Get back to the routine with nature’s cycles, stop and listen to what your body and mind are saying.