Health has always been important to me. I knew that if I’m not healthy, I can’t function well in every other aspect of my life.
I tried many things in my 20s to improve my health. Fad diets, intense exercise, getting massages, sensory deprivation tanks, yoga, meditation, etc. I ate mostly healthy food and avoided destructive habits like alcohol and partying for the most part.
But while I was able to find bits and pieces that worked, I didn’t have the whole picture. The problem was, I didn’t have enough knowledge to achieve true health. As a result, I started having some minor health issues I couldn’t control.
So when a friend told me about Ayurveda, I saw it as an opportunity to try yet another set of interesting health treatments.
My first treatment was Shirodhara – oil pouring on the head. I got it because I just arrived to India for the first time and had a hard time sleeping – this was supposed to help.
I was super skeptical. It seemed like a waste of money to spend an hour simply getting oil poured on my head when I could be getting a full body massage instead! But I was open-minded enough to try it. And to my surprise, it worked! So well, it is now one of my favorite Ayurveda treatments!
A few months later, I signed up for a 15-day stay at the Manaltheeram Ayurveda Resort in India. I was truly impressed by the experience and the results and wanted to learn more. The more I read and learned, the more impressed I became.
I started recognizing Ayurveda as truth. Here is why:
While Western science is only a few hundred years old and is constantly changing based on new data, Ayurveda is over 5,000 years old and timeless! That’s right! It’s based on THOUSANDS of years of experience and practice. And since we were just as human 5,000 years ago as we are now biologically, it still works!
I remember being terrified when I took a psychiatry course in college. I expected all the drugs we learned about for treating mental disorders to have clear scientific backing, but instead, many of them were discovered by accident in the 1960s and it is still unknown how they work! Because the brain is too complicated for modern science to fully understand mental health.
Don’t get me wrong – I would still want to use Western medicine for some things. Specifically big accidents that require surgery, but I’d rather avoid this young Frankenstein science as much as I can for things that I can effectively heal on my own with things like food, exercise, and a generally healthy lifestyle that Ayurveda prescribes…
One Size Does Not Fit All
Unlike the latest fad diet (Kreto anyone?!!), which recommends the same diet for everyone, Ayurveda recognizes that different people have different needs in order to be fully healthy. In everything from diet to exercise to massage. What works great for your best friend or coworker might not work for you.
Furthermore, Ayurveda teaches that the same person’s health habits need to change depending on the seasons and stages of life.
And although Ayurveda has a framework for each person’s body type and seasons, it still recognizes that each individual is unique and allows for flexibility within the framework. A person is a living book and adjustments need to be made based on many individual factors throughout one’s life.
This made a lot of sense to me. This is why my ex-boyfriend could eat anything he wanted, any junk food, chemically made cookies with no outward consequences, while if I did that, I would gain a lot of weight and ruin my skin! According to Ayurveda, even the consequences of being unhealthy manifest in different ways in each person.
Health is a Lifestyle, Not a Pill
In the West, we do whatever we want until we get sick. At this point, we go to the doctor, who gives us a pill to cure our symptoms and we continue doing whatever we want until the next time we get sick.
In contrast, Ayurveda focuses on preventative medicine – a healthy lifestyle. Small daily actions add up. The goal is to never go to the doctor or even need a pill. An Ayurvedic doctor is mainly needed to suggest lifestyle changes for you that promote longevity and health.
In ancient Chinese medical system, which originates from the spread of Ayurveda via Buddhism, the doctor was not paid if the patient got sick:
“Until the 20th century, wealthy households in China retained a well-known physician to be on constant call for the entire family, much as major corporations today retain renowned attorneys.
The physician would visit the household regularly to check everyone’s health, dispense preventive advice and formulas, check on diets and personal habits, and generally keep himself abreast of each individual’s unique conditions.
The moment anyone in the family fell seriously ill, the regular monthly payments to the family physician were stopped, until he restored the patient’s health— at his own expense!”
Imagine if this was the health care system in America… Instead, it is set up with capitalism at the forefront. The doctors and pharmaceutical companies depend on you getting sicker and sicker.
I’m glad that Ayurveda is allowing me to get out of this system and allowing me to start taking control of my own health!
Treating the Cause, Not the Symptoms
When I had skin issues, I would go to Western dermatologists who would give me a brochure filled with highly chemical creams and other harmful treatments to solve my symptoms. I once asked if I needed to use the expensive chemical cream all my life, and the dermatologist just nodded with a blank stare… He had no real solution to my problem.
This is where Ayurveda really impressed me. When I got a consultation at the Ayurveda resort, they told me that my skin was not the problem. It was just a mirror of toxicity that was in my body from having an improper-for-me diet and lifestyle.
After two weeks of detox treatments that did not involve any special treatment to my face (in fact, I asked them to avoid touching my face because I was so worried about having it flare up), my skin was glowing! By following Ayurvedic guidelines for the next few months as much as I could, my skin issues were completely solved!
In Ayurveda, the cause of the disease is found and treated through detox, proper food, and lifestyle. The symptoms go away over time. It might not be as fast as a Western pill, but it is focused on a full cure.
With a pill, your problem remains – you’re simply masking the symptoms. It will manifest in other, likely much worse, sicknesses further on. But it’s ok, the Western doctors and pharmaceutical companies are there for you with another pill and more harmful treatments. They have to make money somehow!
Ayurveda gave control of my own health back to me. I realized that it is my choice and responsibility to stay healthy on a daily basis. Ayurveda gave me the tools to do so. Here is a list of Ayurvedic daily guidelines I follow, the small results of each keep adding up on a daily basis.
You Are Not the Sum of Your Parts
In Western medicine, your body is divided into many pieces. You go to a dermatologist for skin problems. An optometrist for eyes. A chiropractor for back issues. A psychiatrist for depression. And the list goes on and on and on.
One thing that really attracted me to Ayurveda is its holistic approach. After all, you are ONE body and you should be treated as such!
Ayurveda teaches that symptoms manifesting in one part of your body can be attributed to disorders in another part of your body. For example, lower back pain might mean you have constipation. Or bad eyesight could be a result of liver issues.
The eyesight issue happened to me. When I had blurry vision, I went to an optometrist who prescribed contact lenses. Later on, when I learned how to clean my liver and live a healthy lifestyle, my eyesight returned to normal. The problem was not actually with my eyes, but there is no framework in Western medicine to diagnose you holistically like Ayurveda or other Eastern medicines do.
The Mind-Body Connection
Even Western doctors will admit that when you’re stressed or depressed, your immunity is lowered and you’re more likely to get sick. But at the same time, Western doctors won’t bother asking you about your mental state. If you do bring it up, they will tell you to go see a psychiatrist.
In Ayurveda, the mind and body are tightly connected. A sick mind can cause a sick body and vice versa. And it doesn’t even have to be anything serious like depression.
For example, my body type, Pitta (fire), is prone to anger. When my body is out of balance, I’m going to be angry. It has nothing to do with the subject of my anger but with my body’s internal state! Other body types, such as Vata (air) are more prone to having their body’s imbalance show up as anxiety and fear. And it is the Kapha (water) body type that is more prone to depression.
To treat these issues, an Ayurvedic practitioner might start with food suggestions instead of asking you to talk about your entire childhood.
Therefore, the mind-body connection is crucial to maintaining health. Part of living the Ayurveda lifestyle is to be mindful of everything you do. Pay attention to your diet, exercising, reactions to outside stimulus. Notice how food makes you feel. How exercise makes you feel. How bad habits like Netflix or social media or alcohol make you feel. If it makes you feel bad, most likely, you need to change it.
Through Ayurveda, I learned that I was born intelligent. My body is a world of intelligent. It already knows what is best for me. I just had to learn to listen.
Finally, the best way to know whether Ayurveda is truth is by trying it yourself. It is a science and you need to experiment with it.
This was the biggest tipping point for me. As I tried Ayurveda, I noticed the changes that it predicted. Even when the suggestions sounded weird to me – I’m not supposed to eat tomatoes for example!
After slowly easing it into the Ayurvedic lifestyle, I noticed that my weight and skin issues disappeared. But those were the bigger results I was looking for. What surprised me and brought me the most satisfaction were the results I didn’t expect – my mind clearing up, my anger issues subsiding, increased creativity, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, being able to stay awake fully energetic all day long, and much more!
The more Ayurvedic recommendations I’ve implemented, some of which initially sounded weird, the better results I got. And I still have a long way to go!
Ultimately, your health is your responsibility. No doctor, even an Ayurvedic one, can give you a magic pill or detox treatment to truly heal you. Health is an ongoing process that happens in small steps on a daily basis.
Ayurveda gives you the lifestyle guidelines – it is up to you to experiment with them and reclaim your health.