Editor’s Note: Andrew Weil, M.D. is a world-renowned leader, best-selling author, and...
Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential.
The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda are 1.) the mind and the body are inextricably connected, and 2.) nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind. Freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body. This process isn’t as complicated as it may sound. For example, when you meditate you effortlessly enter a state of expanded awareness and inner quiet that refreshes the mind and restores balance. Since the mind and body are inseparable, the body is naturally balanced through the practice of meditation. In the state of restful awareness created through meditation, your heart rate and breath slow, your body decreases the production of “stress” hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and you increase the production of neurotransmitters that enhance wellbeing, including serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins.
Meditation is just one of the most powerful tools the ancient Ayurvedic physicians prescribed for balancing the mind and body. Ayurveda also offers many other practices for expanding self-awareness and cultivating your innate state of balance. Here are a few of the most important aspects of the Ayurvedic approach and suggestions for applying them to create perfect health in your own life:
Along with the six tastes, filling your plate with the colors of the rainbow promotes a long and healthy life. You can literally ingest the information of the universe into your biology. Foods that are deep blue, purple, red, green, or orange are leaders in antioxidants and contain many nutrients that boost immunity and enhance health.
Here are a few Ayurvedic practices to strengthen your digestive fire:
―Always sit down to eat (don’t eat in front of your computer or TV or while you’re driving).
―Eat in a settled atmosphere and not when you’re upset.
―Don’t eat until you’re definitely hungry.
―Dine at a moderate pace. Don’t gulp down your food or eat too slowly.
―Minimize raw foods, which are much harder to digest than cooked ones.
―Include all six tastes at each meal.
―Drink hot water with ginger throughout the day.
―Practice some form of moderate exercise on a regular basis.
―Perform a daily oil massage with herbalized oil that balances your mind-body type. Find instructions for a self-massage here.
―Spend time in the quiet of meditation every day.