Modern medicine simply defines health as a lack of disease, injury, or pain, but it’s much more than that.
One of the reasons that Ayurveda still inspires me to this day is its broad definition of health, which is: “Samadosha Samagnischa Samadhatumala kriyaha Prasanna atmenindriya manaha Swasthya ityabhidheeyate”
That Sanskrit phrase is quoted from one of Ayurveda’s ancient texts the Sushruta Samhita, which was written by India’s first surgeon in 600BC.
It defines a healthy person as someone whose doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha) are all in equilibrium, the digestive fire (agni) is in a balanced state (sama), in addition to the body’s tissues (dhatus) and wastes (malas) also being in balance. The quote also states that the mind (mana) and sensory organs (indriyas) as well as a person’s spirit/soul (atma) must be also in a pleasant state (prasanna). When a person is balanced in all of those areas, he or she is considered healthy by Ayurvedic standards. Continue reading →
In computer programming, a hack refers to a clever bit of programming that solves a problem. In Ayurveda, there are also hacks (though I don’t think the original sages who wrote the Ayurvedic texts had this term in mind).
Since I began studying Ayurveda, I’ve come to learn countless simple tweaks to diet and lifestyle that can have a huge impact on health. Here are two of my favorite Ayurvedic hacks.
Green and black cardamom. Use the green to help offset the effects of caffeine or hangovers.
This is a spice that’s rarely used in the West, but possess a unique combination of both cooling and digestive properties.
If you’ve ever had Indian chai, one of the main flavors you’ll taste is slightly sweet and spicy cardamom.
It’s no coincidence that cardamom is featured prominently in both tea and coffee in India. By adding cardamom to coffee or tea, it helps decrease the heat, acidity, as well as the overall increase in vata (excess air in the body) in the body from caffeine.
Another added benefit of cardamom: if you have a hangover, try sucking on a few green cardamom pods and eating the little seeds inside (spit out the outer shell). The seeds will help with nausea and improve stinky morning breath.
Years ago, I went to therapy to help cure my depression and to stop my mind’s endless cycle of doubt, fear, self sabotage, and poor self esteem. My internal voice would tell me things that I would totally slap someone for saying to me: You’re not good enough, you’re fat, you will never amount to anything, you’re dumb.
I’m not quite sure why I let myself get away with it, but I definitely believed those horrible words. I felt helpless and so small. And when you’re wading in the darkness of depression, it’s so easy to believe those thoughts, to think that the lies your mind tells you are just a mirror reflecting the truth.
Therapy didn’t do much for me, to be honest. I’d sit and talk about my feelings, the doctor would nod, scribble stuff down in her little leather-bound notepad, nod again, and ask more questions. She and I both hoped that this process would lead to sort of amazing breakthrough and I’d be forever healed. That never happened. (This is not to knock psychiatry in any way. Therapy has its role and millions of people find relief on those comfy couches. But I just wasn’t one of them.)
Despite this, I’m happy to say that I no longer suffer from those bouts of depression and if I do, I have the means to pull myself out. No, I don’t have an endless stash of Valium and Prozac.