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Ayurveda and the Four Lifestyle Choices

By Rita Shylesh Nair (Student - SDCOA)

Ayurveda translates as the Science of Life. As a codified system of medicine, Ayurveda considers a human being as a whole being encompassing all aspects of mind, body and spirit functioning as one in coherence. It recognizes that a human being is a finite container of consciousness established with boundaries of their ego, mind, intellect, emotions and sensory filters. Any experience of life come through these filters and layers creating an impact on the individual’s emotional, physiological, mental and spiritual aspects.

Ayurveda as a social and spiritual system provides a set of rules for right and natural living. It promotes the idea
that one should live a life of balance, wholeness and truth for the betterment of not only oneself, but also one’s
family, society and the world. It also stipulates that one should live from the heart, live a life of truth and
principles of right living without causing harm to oneself or others.

The 4 types of Ayurs as described provide us with a methodical way on how to live life and provides insights on what causes an imbalance or for life to go out of balance thereby causing suffering and misery. It also enables us to evaluate and assess whether the individual is living a life in concordance with the principles of right living and determine root causes of suffering and unhappiness. One’s actions, thoughts and words (karma) all have a direct bearing on one’s state of suffering or health. Karmic factors extend and span across time and space boundaries as perceived by us. It also takes into account ancestral and familial factors towards health.

When one lives a life of comfort, free from physical and mental ailments and lives in concordance with nature and its principles, one is said to live a Sukh- ayu. When one lives a live contradictory to nature and its principles, one is bound to experience mental, emotional and physical suffering. This includes poor lifestyle factors, stressors, poor diet etc. This is said to be a life of Dukh-ayu.

When one lives his life in accordance with Dharmic principles of life, a life of truth, right effort, right balance, for the benefit of himself, his family and society, one is said to live a life of Hit-Ayu.

When one lives life in a state of lack of awareness or mindfulness in contradiction of truth and engages in negative thinking, attitudes and mental states that adversely impact one’s life, and others and society, one is said to live a life of Ahit-Ayu.

This system also recognizes that our actions if unconscious and without mindfulness also has a direct impact on those around us and our environment. If we do not perceive the cyclical nature of life and the phases of life that follows nature’s cycles, and live accordingly, then we are bound to experience its effects adversely upon our
physiological, mental and emotional being.
Our excessive demand for fuel has depleted earth’s resources
thereby destroying earth’s natural riches without replenishment.

The impacts of climate change are self-evident.

Many countries see increases in temperature and pollution. This has created a toxic environment and spawned
respiratory illnesses that impact millions. We continue to reach for western drugs which also create its own set
of effects. We are no longer connected to the earth by growing our own food and most food supplied in the world unfortunately has been tainted by toxic chemicals or Gentically Modified Food.

Chemicals introduced in farming practices destroy soil and has created a new slew of GI related illnesses. Our reliance on conveniently packaged and processed food has increased a hundred fold which in turn has created a whole set of diseases as well.

Our fast-paced stress filled lifestyles no longer permit us to have downtime to engage in spiritual practices or rituals
that allow one to connect back to our sense of Higher Self. This intrinsic sense of lack of connection to
ourselves and others create a sense of alienation and we live increasingly separate lives. While we live in a more
technologically advanced society, we also live lives of increased stress and stress related illnesses and
depression and other psychological issues.

The examples of disease and imbalance abound in society and
present day culture. All of these can be traced back to how the principles of life and living as laid out in ancient
Ayurvedic texts have been overlooked and ignored.

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