This is an interesting piece to write about. In recent times, this has been the topic of discussion with many of my patients and we work on health maintenance and even disease reduction. Ayurveda, is the science of longevity and well-being. It is a not only a sick-care system but a healthcare and prevention system.
How it generally works is that there is an understanding in Ayurveda that there is a configuration of 5 elements (earth, water, fire, air, and space) that is manifested uniquely within individuals and this creates the baseline constitution for each one of us. We generally know this and use these biological medical terms called Vata, Pitta, Kapha. The baseline constitution is known as Prakruti in Ayurveda. When we have deviated from this point of homeostasis, the biological baseline of our physiological make-up, we enter into what is called Vrikruti, the imbalanced state. For instance, there are 7 possible combinations of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. They are VP, PK, VK (most common and known as the dual-doshic types), V, P, K (least common, and primary types where these individuals are mainly just one, with little of the others); and Tridoshic which is VPK (least common and harder to manage as well.) The prakruti is established at birth. Vrikruti develops as a result of the right stressors, tension, and pressure, this relates a lot to diet, lifestyle, and state of mind.
Then, once we understand the constitutional factors we also look at the time of life an individual is in. These are called the Three Phases of LIfe in Ayurveda. Initially, everyone starts in Kapha phase of life. How do we know it’s kapha? Because the qualities of kapha are heavy, cold, moist, dense, slow, soft. Consider this, we are in a womb for an average of 8-9 months that is a water environment. Kapha represents two elements, earth and water. Therefore, childhood is where we come out of a womb that consists of amniotic fluid, a water environment and enter into the world (one way or another being natural birth or c-section.) During childhood, kids generally are mucus producing machines. Some more than others based on constitution. For instance, the Vata predominant kid would produce less mucus but it would be clearer. The Pitta predominant kid would produce some mucus and could be yellowish at times. The Kapha predominant kid tends to produce a lot of mucus and its often, thick, and whitish in color.
Next we progress into the Pitta phase of life which consists of when the endocrine system becomes more activated (puberty) and hormones cause the growth spurts and for lots of growth in many places. LOL Estrogen and Testosterone are doing their thing and appetite/metabolism shifts as well. We generally establish ourselves in the world with a certain fire, momentum, intention and inspiration/passion.
Lastly, we enter into Vata phase of life when life quiets down, hormones change again and we have menopause (cessation of menses, decrease in estrogen and increase in testosterone in women, generally) and andropause (the male menopause where testosterone decreases, and estrogen generally increases.) During this phase of life, we are more sensitive in many ways. Skin tends to be drier. Constipation may occur more often. Temperament changes. Appetite changes again. Energy changes. This is the period of wisdom, as I’d like to call it. It’s the time to reflect on the previous 50+ years and be open to what is still in store until we are complete on this planet.
So why am I mentioning all this?It is something to consider for sure. I have seen from my personal experience and my interactions with the countless patients that very often time follows us. What we do today can affect our tomorrow. Some things take time.
*As I remember learning through my schooling, that the body is a historical system and it requires consistency for health. How our mental and physical health has been established while we we young-ens will shape our future.
*Like Whitney Houston’s song says “the children are our futures” and I’d like to add that the children within each and everyone of us is in our future. I also say that whatever experiences we have had, that have been traumatic during our childhood, we spend the rest of our lives unpacking as adults…if we do the work to do so.
* I liked the saying “the child is father to the man.” Is this child integrated into the man/woman today or is it grabbing the adult of who we are today from a place of unexpressed pain and wounding? This will all spiral and influence how we are really taking care of ourselves, or not. To some degree, no matter what it looks like, we are all doing the best that we can AND can always do better if we are connected to that part of us that really wants us to do so.
*They say “youth is wasted on the young” and that may seem true but that also affirms that the older we get the more wisdom we get. I’ve seen how in older years that the quality of life “back then” could have possibly shaped a different future but the reality is that every moment before now brought us to know precisely the way it was meant to. Additionally, I have worked with many younger individuals ranging from childhood, to adolescents, to teenagers, to individuals in their early to mid-twenties and I’ve seen them develop conditions that are typically formed in later years. For instance, I’ve worked with guys who have had erectile dysfunction at the age of 22. Girls, who have had no menses or extremely uncomfortable menses at the age of 13,14,17, 20 and 21. Again, typically scenarios related to older women. How is this happening? So many factors to consider, but that’s another story, some with overlapping of the material presented as food for thought in this article.
*They say “hindsight is 20/20” and “if I knew then, what I know now” but again this is how experience gives us knowledge.
*How do we expect to have a larger outcome during our retirement years when the investment is minimal today? When some patients come in and say “how long will it take to get better?” My reply, which is typical of Ayurveda is, “it depends”. It depends on so many factors. To start with, I can do a dollar a day and see the savings grow to 30 in a month. Or I can do 5 dollars a day and see at the end of the month 150.00. It depends on what I can do, my willingness, and the practicality of what I can do. But, it is safe to say that the more I invest in myself, since I’m worth the sacrifice in the long-run, the more I will get out of it. Don’t you agree?
Constitutionally, traveling through time and space, through the different phases of life with the different experiences of life will all add to what is happening right now, and what we decide to do now will help or hurt our future. I have been my own work in progress for almost 20 years now with the strongest intentions to do so and health is a dynamic process. When patients come in to see me, I see all ages, I meet them where they are at. From the eastern perspective there is no such thing as too late, unless it is absolutely too late and even then, we can support the journey of life and where it is going. In eastern medicine, we can always find a way to support an individual where they are at, no matter what it is, and however big or small the influence. In some cases, 90 to close to 100% of healthy may not be regained, but maybe 20% of that could be. In other cases, there is a full re-connection to balance and symptoms go away. It can all be managed from any angle and various degrees so there is always some hope. In fact, when someone has an intention, hope-based goal, I hold the space for it and see what unravels in support of this journey. I take journey’s with each one, as they are personal and limited. In turn, this adds to the abundance in my life and depths of my own intimacy within my own experience of living in this body.
In regards to the idea of a health “retirement plan”, all this is what I am referring to. Where we are at in life, between phase of life, constitution, history/her-story, what we do right now can have the potential to “change” what we are walking in with into something different when we walk out the door. A shift in perspective is powerful. Holding an intention and space for ourselves and for others, in so many ways, subtle and overt, can have life-changing benefits. It is all amazing! So, what can we do better right now? What can we acknowledge right now that we are doing that is the best that we can do? Is there room? How slow can we become in this moment to really get the chance to be with ourselves and know ourselves and support ourselves. We can’t do this journey alone. We aren’t meant to, as much as we think our crazy mind can convince us of this. The only way out is in and by having the right support, by listening to ourselves and having others reflect for us, we can go far if we choose to and are open to it.
This article was intended to be a general discussion and observation from my recent reflections on such a topic. If you would like to explore more about these thoughts and around your own journey, please feel free to message me. Let’s go deep together!
DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions.