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Sun, June 1, 2014
Ayurveda and Meditation: The Path to a Balanced and Conscious Living
At a time in which computers, multimedia and iPhones cause constant over-stimulation, Ayurveda educates us to tune in with our body, vital (prana, the life energy, carrier of emotions) and mind to re-establish the lost connection with our true nature and inner self.

Meditation is also a process of introspection and awareness of the inner dimensions that exist deep inside us. From this standpoint Ayurveda and meditation go hand in hand in promoting a balanced and conscious living.

Ayurveda, the Wisdom of Life
Developed in India over thousands of years by the ancient Rishis [seers], Ayurveda teaches us how to understand our own constitution and to identify what internal and external circumstances alter our balance. These include our lifestyle, our relationships, and the environment (weather, seasons, social and work atmosphere…)

On a daily basis we need to make conscious choices to maintain or restore our balance. We also come to realize that we are all different, so what may be perfectly balancing for one individual can cause the opposite effect in another. This applies not only to our food intake, but also to our emotional intake and thus our relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. By understanding the way they are, their tendencies and weaknesses, based on their constitution, we learn how to cope with, rather than fight these differences. This allows us to improve and strengthen our relationships and be happier.

The Doshas
According to Ayurveda nature manifests on Earth through three doshas [meaning subject to change]:
  • Vata, the law of movement, governs nature's growth and decay
  • Pitta, the law of transformation, governs nature's creation and destruction
  • Kapha, the law of sustainability, governs nature's strength and stability
As we become aware of these doshas acting in and around us, we can strive for a harmonious balance of the doshas within ourselves. This balance can be achieved through purification, correct nutrition, dietary supplementation, and by going deeper within through meditation.

Also, as we learn what Vata, Pitta, Kapha mean and how they manifest, it becomes easier for us to accept ourselves and others. We come to understand why different foods suit us differently, why we react to cold and heat or stress differently. Our different constitutions create the diversity manifested in humanity.
 
Vata is the law that governs movement in the body/vital/mind, and manifests on earth through the air and space (ether) elements. Freshness and enthusiasm, but also nervousness and fear are associated to Vata. Pitta is the fire that transforms everything in the body/vital/mind and is expressed mainly through the fire element. Pitta people have a sharp intelligence, but can be critical, perfectionists, and become easily angry. Kapha is the earth and water elements that create cohesion and stability. Contentment, balance and harmony are manifested by Kapha, along with attachment and greed.
 
Secrets to Balanced Living
We can see Kapha as the heaviest dosha, which helps to counterbalance Vata's movement and Pitta's transformation. Together, the three doshas govern all our metabolic and mental processes. Therefore, a balance between all three doshas is necessary for the maintenance of good health.  Each individual has different amounts of Vata, Pitta and Kapha in his/her nature.  That’s the imprint that nature gave to each of us. We should struggle to maintain that imprint intact as we move through life and outer factors tend to undermine that original equilibrium.
 
Ayurveda and the Mind
Ayurveda views the mind as a storehouse of the impressions we access through the senses. Everything we see or feel leaves an imprint upon the mind. Therefore, too much, too little, or wrong use of the senses results ultimately in emotional imbalance.

For example, Pitta, associated to the burning fire, is connected to the sense of sight. Too much overstimulation of the eyes affects Pitta. Similarly too many noises or very strong winds affect Vata, which is associated to the senses of sound and touch.

As we begin to pay more attention to what is going through our mind, we may notice that initial ‘warnings’ of disease start in the mind, most often in response to negative thoughts or emotions. Since the mind is nothing but thought, much of the healing consists of changing our thought pattern and learning to embrace positive thoughts. Thoughts of love, peace, and harmony counteract the weakening, disturbing and negative thoughts. This can be achieved through positive affirmations and chanting. By nature the mind is changing, volatile, and thus difficult to control. Concentration techniques allow us to gradually hold the mind in place.
 
Like the body, the mind is material and part of the external world. Simply, it is made of matter of a more refined, subtler nature. To achieve awareness of our inner self, we must then go beyond the mind, into the realm of the spiritual heart. Through the practice of prayer and meditation we gradually gain control of the mind. Eventually, we become aware of the different levels of the mind: the sensorial mind, intelligence, imagination, intuition and finally go beyond the mind altogether into the realm of pure consciousness within our heart.
 
Ayurveda and Meditation
In Ayurveda, the three doshas are reflected at a higher, non-material level by the primary qualities of nature, the three gunas: Sattva – pure consciousness, Rajas – motion and action, and Tamas – inertia which resists them.
 
At all times, there is an interplay of these three forces inside each and every human being and in our society as a whole. To enhance sattvic qualities and create a better world, we should follow the lifestyle promoted by Ayurveda, which includes also the daily practice of meditation to get in touch with the deeper part of ourselves, calm our emotions, focus the mind, and bring to the fore the qualities and capacities that are stored deep within ourselves.
 
For deeper insights on the subject, you may consult the website Service-Plants.com and read ‘Ayurveda: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Life’ by Kumudini Shoba, M. Sc.

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