Ayurveda: the healing answer to a full and healthy life
As we contemplate our New Year resolutions, do they include - combating stress and / addiction? Loosing weight? Accepting a current relationship isn’t working and it is this that is getting in the way of you being your best self? Well, I’m not a huge fan of New Year resolutions as for the most, you set yourself up for failure. A well documented fact, any change in your life takes time to adjust to and commit to that behavior; hence it would be far more effective to think of how you can use this opportunity to set your mind on ways to live a full and healthy life. So … here is where my sage advice comes in - what I’ve done here with Ayurveda is apply aspects of this ancient knowledge system to our modern day dilemmas, things we may be contemplating as we move into a new and exciting year, and detailed, through hard work and commitment, the kind of results you may achieve.
Breaking the cycle of addiction
Your current life path is full of negativity, rather than positivity – you feel anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies and false pride. You abuse a substance hoping to recreate a high, make yourself happier, or solve your problems, only to find yourself in the same place, or even a worse one, as all the times before. You feel tension and are constantly stuck, unable to break free from the grasp of your dependency.
Ayurveda promotes positive thinking but also acknowledges the battle that goes on inside people. Why do we keep repeating a cycle that always ends poorly? Why does the insanity of addiction have such a hold on us? The exact answers to those questions will differ from person to person, but there are some fundamental Ayurvedic principles that explain what fuels addiction.
Sage wisdom is to help you acknowledge that addiction is a chronic yet treatable disorder, whether this is focusing on your emotional quotidian (EQ) or brain function. Each time you engage in an abusive experience, you lower the life energy (prana) within your body. The healing process can be very long and painful.
Modern day example: Someone who has spoken candidly about heroin, abstinence and addiction is Russell Brand. A recovering drug addict, it is 10 years since he used drugs or drank alcohol and he himself says his life has immeasurably improved, “I have a job, a house, a cat, good friendships and generally a bright outlook.”
My Ayurvedic diagnosis: From an environmental and psychological point of view, I’d say Russell is a true ‘vata’ – the most vulnerable to addiction and stress. Composed of half ether and half air, vata is known as the governor because it moves everything in your body – all nerve impulses, the movement of food in your digestive tract, muscle contractions, heartbeats and so on, would be impossible without it.
Why do vatas have these issues? Vata is located mostly in your colon and when working well, gives your nervous system the ability to exchange messages and enables your body to digest food and eliminate your bodily wastes. But when it is disturbed, the senses are deprived of energy, which over time leads to toxicity in the body. Unremitting stress leads to severe agitation and if you continue down this path, it can lead to high cholesterol, hypertension and heart disease.
Sage advice Keep grounded, working with various holistic health modalities, such as yoga and light forms of meditation. More people would learn from their mistakes if we weren't so busy denying them, and embrace joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith!
Try considering this: When vata is out of balance, it leads to derangement of the mind. This individual finds it difficult to pull on their own internal wisdom and judgment, and they get easily swayed by desire and excess. Vata dosha has the attributes of the wind and can, like the wind, be increased, decreased, deviated or obstructed.
Longing for a relationship that lasts
You settled with the one that wasn’t really meant to work out, and you keep your hopes up that things will change for the better. Then there is the one that got away! And the one who taught you all you need to know about love, but didn’t want to stay put.
Ayurveda promotes the idea that there is a ‘lesson’ in all our experiences. It also teaches that sexual desire is ultimately a yearning for an unconditional loving relationship between ourselves and the divine: a spiritual connection that will satiate all our desires.
Sage wisdom is to first take you back to positive images of love and the expression of a thirst for intimacy, touch and tenderness. It is borne out of a need to feel loved unconditionally, as a baby is loved. Then to look at the independent values we seek for a meaningful loving union. Moving you to the understanding of bonding that true satiation arises from the union of emotions, body and soul.
Modern day example: Myleene Klass and Graham Quinn
Why can’t celebrity love go the distance? Not a week goes by without a celebrity split, and I’m sure it must be hard to maintain a relationship in the limelight. I think of grueling work schedules and the pressures of being under the microscope. A recent case is that of Myleene and Graham Quinn. They'd been dating 11 years and had two children together before they married in October last year. But, after just seven months as husband and wife, the pair split and things turned nasty.
My Ayurvedic diagnosis: From the outside, it seems to me they are both pittas – the flames of passion overwhelm the pitta couple! An intelligent, ambitious and opinionated force together, the pitta couple is just as passionate in the boardroom as they are in the bedroom. To keep their force strong, it’s best they are both on the same team. But could Graham have been threatened by Myleene's success? Did they marry to try and save their relationship?
Why to pitas have these issues: During the aggravation stage, pitta fills up the seat of pitta – the digestive tract – which leads to constant irritability and excessive body heat.
Sage advice Self-respect and liking oneself are the most important ingredients for any good relationship. If these are in short supply you may consider counseling to address them. Any relationship that diminishes a person's self-esteem should be examined closely.Try considering this: Self-respect and liking oneself are the most important ingredients for any good relationship. If these are in short supply you may consider counseling to address them. Any relationship that diminishes a person's self-esteem should be examined closely. In these relationships, each partner’s central role is either as a parasite or as a victim. However, these roles can switch periodically if an emotionally charged situation arises like a biting argument. When this happens, the aggravated pitta, which is a repressed sick part in an individual, can come shooting out like red-hot lava from an angry volcano!
Fighting for the perfect figure?
You beat yourself up at the gym and feel at war with your figure. You have tried every diet. You spend on health and fitness gurus (instructors) for zero result? And you still want to have a perfect body without the terrible diets and exhausting exercise?
Ayurveda, first and foremost, teaches us how to love ourselves and accept our genetic ‘prakruti’. We are each born with a unique constitution, technically known as a dosha, of vata, pitta or kapha. Trying to change this generally takes us away from the positive feelings we get from feeling in ‘tune’ with ourselves.
Sage wisdom is to encourage you to focus on recognising and changing what you believe about yourself. Teaching you to learn to love your body. This is an internal job. It is a decision to be kind to yourself. In this state, you’ll then be able to follow a workable diet to help you shed the excess pounds and get that sexy, confident appeal back.
Modern day example: Rob Kardashian. Rob admits his ballooning weight gain is down to food addiction, which has made him depressed and embarrassed about his efforts of getting into the fashion industry.
My Ayurvedic diagnosis: kapha imbalance. If your primary dosha is kapha, you’re probably laid back and easy going. You have strong bones and good teeth. Your skin is pale and thick, so you don’t wrinkle easily. But you are prone to weight gain and you have a job to shift it. Because of your natural tendency to not move much, your metabolism is slow, along with your ability to digest both ideas and food. Nonetheless, your strength is legendary, and you are capable of hard work.
Why do Kaphas have these issues? These individuals include those of us who are naturally rounded and curvaceous – more Kate Winslet than Kate Moss. Their metabolism is slow which means any calorie intake takes a long time to shift. Kaphas are also naturally kind and loving, and when they feel lonely or low, they find solace in food – and with a sweet tooth, they are drawn to highly calorific foods, which can have the effect of building adipose tissue.
Sage advice is to help you with attachment and greed and pacify your cravings for sweet and salty tastes. Part of the chemistry behind taking control of the kapha demons is to understand how hormone leptin stimulates the hypothalamus (the brains centre of appetite and metabolic rate). This process goes wrong when leptin resistance steps in. The body loses its natural intelligence (known as tejas) and the kapha constitution piles on the pounds.
Try considering this: to put a stop to leptin resistance, develop a diet plan which avoids certain foods and aids digestion. The main foody culprits are starchy carbohydrates found in pasta and bread. Consider also introducing some lifestyle changes as your mood swings may be due feeling the urge to eat all the time, having the effect of then making you feel drained. It is beneficial to get up early in the morning and go for a long walk or light paced run. This will get your energy moving and reduce the stomach fire (jathar agni).
Wishing you a joyous new year, a new beginning, full of things that have never been ... ideally your new chapter that has just begun!