Expand Your Definition of Health With Ayurveda

An excerpt from Michelle’s book, The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda: An Easy Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle, New World Library, May 12, 2015.

When we think of health, we often refer to the physical body. If the body is strong and pain free, we declare that we are healthy. But if the body is experiencing aches and pains, or other indications of illness, we claim we are sick.

Learning about and practicing Ayurveda shifts this belief to an expanded view.

More Than a Physical Body

You are more than a physical body; you are more than a set of symptoms and outer appearance that includes your weight, height, and eye or hair color. You are a complex, multi-faceted being with the ability to think, feel, create, connect, and influence your health on many levels.

If you want to experience optimal health at all levels, you must first embrace this concept. You must cease to consider yourself as having a frail body whose job is to keep you alive now, and degrade as you get older. If you think of yourself as just a body, you’ll panic each time you see another gray hair or wrinkle, or whenever you feel aches and pains.

Not only are you more than your physical body, you have a much greater impact on your health and well-being than you believe, once you make this shift in thinking.

Would You Buy a Home Based on One Room?

The principle of wholeness may be understood from the following example. Suppose you are in the market to buy a new home. You’ve decided on several different qualities that you look for in a home. For example, you spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking gourmet meals, and so a beautiful, useful kitchen is your number one priority. But you would also like a home with large windows, a decent-sized master bath, and four bedrooms, and it must be reasonably priced and located on a quiet street.

You explain your preferences to a well-intentioned real estate agent, however, he only hears the part about the kitchen and proceeds to show you a series of homes with terrific kitchens, paying no attention to your other specifications. No matter how grand the cooking space, if the house is too small or smack in the center of downtown, the kitchen will do little to make up for that.

Seeing health as related only to the physical body is the same as buying a house because of a single room. It takes many different aspects to compel us to purchase a home. A home is a big investment of resources and time. If we base the purchase on one aspect, we may find ourselves with big problems later on when we discover faulty plumbing, a tattered roof, or restricted closet space.

Like your home, your health is a big investment. Learning how to live life according to a holistic model requires an investment of time and money. But if you adopt the principles of Ayurveda, the payoff will immeasurably outweigh the cost.

The Wheel of Healing With Ayurveda

The concept of the wheel in The Wheel of Healing outlines the Ayurvedic principle of expanding the definition of health. The areas you need to include besides physical health are…

  • Emotional health
  • Spiritual health
  • Healing your past
  • Relationship health
  • Financial health
  • Occupational health
  • Environmental health

And the most important of all to consider is your Dharma or life’s purpose, which give you extreme pleasure, drive, and motivation to get and stay healthy. When you embrace and explore all of these aspects of health, you get to see the bigger picture just like walking through the house of your dreams.

Where to Begin

When working to regain health, most people will start with diet and exercise, and this may be a good place to start for you as well. But you may also need to start elsewhere in your journey to health. Let’s suppose you had a recent life-changing event such as a death in the family, a divorce, or loss of a job. In these cases, you may want to begin with emotional health or healing your past. Or perhaps you’re really struggling in your finances and you know it’s getting you down. In this case, you will begin with financial healing.

Since every aspect of your health is interrelated, you will find that when you begin healing one or two aspects of your health, some of the others will naturally fall into place. What you must remember, however, is that regaining balance is a constant journey, and you must be proactive to maintain long-term holistic health.

Integrating Ayurveda With Allopathic Medicine

While it’s true that most of allopathic or Western medicine only considers the physical body when it comes to healing, there’s no reason why you can’t integrate Ayurveda with your current healthcare plan. Many physicians are open to tweaking or modifying your treatment plans when you share that you’ve taken up meditation, have been doing some emotional healing, or are more active.

Even if you meet some resistance, know that by working on these different areas of your health, you are getting healthier. You will feel empowered and more in control over your own health. Your self-awareness will expand and your intuition will grow stronger. By experiencing a holistic vision of who you are your inner healer will emerge, and that is the essence of Ayurveda. 

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