SoulBeing July 2023 Newsletter
Earlier this year I started working with an incredible Ayurvedic practitioner. In a short time, she has enhanced much of my understanding of my own health and challenged many of my assumptions about how my mind, body, and spirit are interconnected.
Ayurveda is the name of the ancient Indian medical system that is considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science in the world. Earliest evidence of ayurvedic practices date back over 5000 years ago. Directly translating to “science of life,” Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health, focused on prevention of disease through practices that promote balance between the body, mind, and spirit.
This delicate balance represents our natural state, while life circumstances – diet, lifestyle, stress, environment, relationships – are constantly shifting us out of balance. By adopting ayurvedic practices and learning a new framework for thinking about how to manage holistic health, it is possible to better identify imbalances in ourselves and develop strategies for returning to our natural state of health.
Personally, a big part of my early (guided) exploration of ayurveda has been about developing and trusting my own internal wisdom. Sometimes, it truly is as simple as “the body will tell you what it needs.” For me, that has meant prioritizing low impact exercise over running or HIIT workouts. It has also meant that sometimes I go to bed early instead of finishing a work project I had planned. In the winter I drink hot tea, in the summer, I prefer my beverages cold. My appetite fluctuates through the seasons, as do the foods I want to eat. My body is constantly telling me what it wants and needs, but listening well to those signals is a skill that can be developed.
My practitioner recently introduced me to a concept in Ayurveda called prajnaparadha, translated to “crimes against wisdom.” This term can also be described as knowing what we should do, but willfully doing the opposite. Sometimes this looks like ignoring our intuition, or for those more neurobiology inclined, it could be described as cognitive dissonance. Whichever term resonates with you, the important understanding is that prajnaparadha is considered the root of all imbalance that we face as humans.
This sounds ominous. At face value, prajnaparadha seems to be a fully negative experience that is best avoided or at least minimized. What I have found particularly appealing about how prajnaparadha was presented to me, however, is that awareness of the concept allows me the freedom to choose.
I recognize that a bagel for breakfast might give me a headache and stomachache later due to my gluten sensitivity, but I can consciously choose to suffer those consequences or avoid them all together. Neither choice is considered “right” or “wrong.” Choosing to indulge is not a moral offense, nor does it indicate that I am weak person or someone who makes bad decisions. Crimes against wisdom are not inherently bad choices, they just need to be managed. The first step towards managing this cognitive dissonance is awareness.
For me, this realization comes with a certain type of freedom, and aligns strongly with themes that are appearing in my life recently. Often when I think I need more discipline, what I actually need is more self-love. The gentleness I have found in ayurvedic practices has inspired me to be more compassionate with myself, while also providing new tools to understand myself more fully.
I have found the addition of ayurveda to my health management strategy to be highly informative and impactful thus far. I look forward to many opportunities in the coming months, weeks, days, hours(!), to practice choosing to listen to my inner wisdom (or disregard it), and being gentle and loving with myself either way.
Wishing you well,