Ayurveda (the"science of life/longevity") is the most ancient system of complete holistic healthcare. It is rooted in the five elements, consisting of earth, water, fire, air, and ether/space. "As is above, so is below." From the top down, we see the must subtle descending into a grosser form, starting with ether/space and making its way down to a dense plane of existence being earth. Conversely, we ascend from an earthly plane back into the ethers, going from earth to ether/space. The wisdom of the elements in inherent in everything within the cosmos to the cosmos itself. This intelligence is the fabric of what we are made of and how we can function in the world. By understanding our relationship as the elements to the elements that surround us we can find our way into health, and discover why we may have ill health.
So often do we look out there for answers to what is happening inside of us. It's great to have teachers reflect for us what it is that we may not be seeing for ourselves when in reality they are simply showing us what is there but we don't usually take the time to slow down and notice.
Our body has its own inherent wisdom, intelligence, and abilities to communicate with us what is going on. It's actually quite simple, when we feel truly good then we must be doing something right. When we feel not so good, then we must be doing something that isn't that good for us. You see, the body communicates through symptoms, or the lack thereof. Not only that but on a more subtle level we can hear/feel an inner "guidance" that tells us in its own way which way to go or to stay. In other words, there is what some may call "intuition" and when we can experience this as a subtle whisper beneath the chaotic nature of the turbulent mind we can navigate our way through this time-space continuum.
Ayurveda knows that when we experience imbalances it is because somehow we are acting disharmoniously. Harmonious actions produce better health and disharmonious actions produce ill-health. When we take time to listen to the symptoms we can see how we can adjust our lifestyles in order to reduce or reverse symptoms. Ayurveda teaches us to pay attention to little things like gas, bloating, burping, sluggish digestion, nausea, burning indigestion, constipation, and colds. These are fundamental indications that something is out of balance with our relationship to diet and lifestyle. It is with the understanding of how we live through our diet and lifestyle that we can either discover health or create disease. Additionally, it is with realigning ourselves with nature, and with supporting our diet and lifestyles that any disease can be managed optimally, sometimes even to the point or total reversal. It all just depends.
As we enter into the next phase of the year, being summer, we can take note of whether the heat (dry/wet (humid), depending on climate/location) has a negative effect (for some more than others). If, as you transition into the hotter months, there are symptoms such as burning indigestion, diarrhea, fever, inflammation, acne, anger, and/or other heat producing/heat related symptoms, then this is a strong indication that you may have primarily a Pitta imbalance. Pitta being that combination of Fire with a little water in its configuration.)
When Vata, the combination of air and ether/space elements, is predominant, then symptoms become more intense as fall and early winter months take over. This tends to show up with symptoms such as dryness, constipation, even sleep issues (insomnia), or other neurologically related symptoms.
Finally, if there is an increase in lethargy, heaviness, sluggishness, depression (melancholic), slow metabolism, or any other symptoms related to watery/earthy qualities, then this is an indication of Kapha present in the physiology. Kapha is the combination of water and earth elements.
Primarily, Vata expresses with dryness; Pitta expresses with heat, and Kapha with heaviness. When we look at the previously mentioned symptoms such as gas, bloating, belching, this falls into the category of Vata related imbalances. In looking at burning indigestion, we note this as relating to Pitta. When we look at sluggish digestion, this relates to Kapha. Constipation can be caused by any of the three, Vata, Pitta, or Kapha (known as Sannipattika). Vata constipation could be dryness related in the colon. Pitta constipation can be heat, causing dryness in the colon. Otherwise, diarrhea is associated with Pitta as a response to the body's attempt to remove something that isn't ideal for the body or an indication of some provocation of inflammation. Kapha constipation tends to be due to excess mucus preventing peristaltic action. Colds can be a result of Sannipattika, or all three, depending on the causes of stress; again, relating to either dryness, heat or mucus accumulation.
This body of ours asks for our attention. Usually, the signs start out in subtle ways and when they get ignored they progress until they are screaming at us and the body isn't able to cope any longer. At this point is when western medicine provides us with a "diagnosis". Ayurveda seeks to prevent the elevation and progression of a disease by taking note of what the simple and subtle symptoms are and preventing them by "reversing the nidana" or reversing the etiology (cause). Which means that we have to become more aware of cause and effect. With the choices we make around diet and lifestyle, what comes into our minds, through the senses and what comes into our body through the senses, will determine what comes out. What comes out of the body, examples such as sleep issues, digestive issues, mental issues, are a result of what has gone into the body.
Are we able to take the time to notice such things? The body isn't able to directly say "please don't eat that pizza with this cold because I'll stay sicker longer and get more mucousy" or "please don't stay up late because I'll have cravings for sugar and caffeine to give me energy (when I know I can do it naturally if only I got some adequate rest)." The body just shows us through symptoms relating to cause and effect, and when we can connect the dots we can see that the body has been communicating with us long enough, and to steer clear. Yet, when we are able to take heed and slow down to notice, for example, that soft tickle at the back of the throat or the dryness in the sinus, even that tickle in the ear(s), we will notice how this is the beginning of the cold that we don't want to get that may put us out for a few days. If we drink that warm veggie/chicken soup, get extra rest, take herbs/vitamins, and slow down with our demands, we can curve the direction in our favor and avoid the cold.
Otherwise, the opposite happens and then we complain about how "I don't have time for getting sick." Meanwhile, the body says "if I made more time to take care of myself and didn't sacrifice my health for my lifestyle, then I wouldn't have to get sick." Of course, I'm referring to general imbalances, as there are exogenous (external) factors that increase the chance of disease based on exposure, but even here Ayurveda still says that if we are strong enough in our body and our immunity is high, then the likelihood of incurring any illness is significantly reduced if not completely eliminated. The latter is an ideal of course.
Anyways, the point of this article is to notice cause and effect. Take notice of what is present within the body and compare it to what is going in and what is coming out. Look at the life/lifestyle and examine the diet. Do you see any correlation? Prevention is key to maintaining health. Knowing how to live in accordance with nature and from our hearts/emotions/bodies, as guidance systems towards health and happiness. A bit of attention and self-care can go a long way. Ayurveda teaches us to be the master of our health. It takes time and patience, compassion, and slowing down to "smell the roses." Slow down because you're worth the time and effort. Remember, health is wealth. What's the point of seeking wealth when health is thrown under the bus?
What is your body/heart telling you? What is your life telling you? See any correlation between what your life and lifestyle look like and what the quality of your health is?
DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions.