Good question! Modern life is fast changing and can often be overwhelming. We are adaptive creatures who want to feel well, so I think there’s been a growing interest in yoga, meditation, astrology, plant-based diets and natural alternatives for health as an antidote to that which exhausts us.
It therefore makes sense that we are looking again at the world’s most ancient medical science. Ayurveda (which translated from Sanskrit means ‘the knowledge of life’) has been helping people for over 5000 years. The world has changed a lot since it was ‘seen’ by the seers in the Himalayas all that time ago, but the fundamentals of our existence: what it means to be alive, what we need to be healthy, the bricks and mortar of our bodies and mind remain the same.
Ayurveda is a Living Science
People talk about Ayurveda being an ancient medicine (which of course it is), but I see it as a living medicine. It asks us to be with ourselves, listen to what’s going on in our mind and body at any given moment, take a step back, and get to know what we are made up of in qualitative terms. It asks us to understand our environment, know what foods, plants, surroundings and climates best serve us, and take heed of those that don’t.
The Qualities of Our Existence…
When I talk of qualities, I am talking about our unique constitutions, or prakruti and their elemental make-up. Everything in Ayurveda eventually comes back to the five elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth), and the qualities of these elements. By way of example, vata is made of ether and air, and therefore enters spaces, it moves, and is prone to dryness, anxiety and fear. Whereas pitta is fire and a little water, so it can get really hot and bothered sometimes, while also being sharp and on it, concentrating and understanding things with a penetrative mind. Kapha which is earth and water, can be oily and chilled, sometimes lethargic but often merry. Ayurveda cannot separate the body and mind, so you see how these qualities bridge the physical and mental? (On a side note, I think people are eager to be told about themselves, and understanding which doshasthey are made up of, helps them do this).
Lastly, Ayurveda is all about balance – understanding our natural state of balance – seeing how we have deviated from it and how we return to it.
This is another reason Ayurveda is re-entering the mainstream. We are seeing a world being turned upside down, and we are creatures that inherently want to be in harmony, living, smiling and thriving, and when the system doesn’t support that, we look for ones that do! Ayurveda is all about that: letting us be our best selves.
By Selina Van Orden