Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?
Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?
The ancient science of Ayurveda is really the art of living wisely, as it empowers people to make choices that nurture and sustain balance, wellness, and vitality. Ayurveda is a nature-based approach to healing that recognizes the unique difference of every individual ~ and, because every one of us is unique, every illness is unique; so, no disease, even if it goes by the same name, can be alike. Therefore, in Ayurveda, we seek to treat not the disease, nor the symptoms of the disease, but the person, the whole person, by attempting to dissolve the underlying cause of suffering and re-establish the fundamental state of wellbeing.
While it is a very personalized system of medicine, there are simple, intuitive and universal guidelines for healthy living. The first principle behind Ayurveda as it relates to food is to eat nature. That may sound simple but walk into an ordinary grocery store and you will be hard-pressed to find real food – i.e., food that is grown by the forces of sun, soil, wind and water. So, start by eating nature’s produce, as fresh and as close to the source as possible so that it retains its living intelligence and energy, what we call Prana or life force.
Look to “eat nature” then, as close to its source as possible. When you eat food that is locally grown, you benefit from the intelligence in nature that sustains seasonal balance. For instance, in Autumn we harvest root vegetables which help build our strength and immunity for winter. In the Spring, bitter and pungent greens sprout to help us detoxify and lighten winter’s load. So the second principle is to eat according to the seasons.
A third principle and important general rule it is to maintain a strong Agni. Agni, meaning digestive fire, is the Sanskrit root for our word ignite. For optimal health you have to have optimal fire in the belly. Heavy foods, too much food, cold food, old food, frozen, canned or processed food, even cold water taken with your meal, contribute to reducing the digestive fire.
Imagine the digestive system as a large fire. If you add too much wood, say Thanksgiving feast, then you will put the fire out. If the wood is too wet, too heavy, or too hard you are likely to extinguish the flame. And if you add artificial materials, as most “food” is these days, you will certainly reduce the flames – or, at least, create a lot of toxic smoke.
If you feel heavy, lethargic, dull-minded, or you are experiencing mood swings, then you may have a low-burning fire that has resulted in a toxic build-up that in turn is making your whole system sluggishness. To strengthen your digestive fire, try fasting to clear any clogging, sticky toxins. You can simply skip dinner one night weekly, or stick to a liquid diet for a few days. Sipping warm vegetable soups and broths for your three meals not only detoxifies, it fans the abdominal flames.
Drinking lemon and ginger tea throughout the day, and always with your meals, will increase digestive fire and help reduce Ama. Add ginger to your food, too, when cooking. Try to eat fresh, home-cooked meals as much as possible, and consider working with me as your Ayurvedic practitioner to teach you how to eat right for your mind-body type, or click here to take our Dosha Test.
Nature gives us exactly what we need. For this, we bless our food. We give thanks for the nourishment. Let’s remember that food is what we are made of. Your next breakfast, lunch, dinner will soon become an arm, a nerve, a brain cell, or a heart muscle. Choose wisely and give thanks. It is a miracle, and you are a part of that miracle. Ayurveda is the reminder of that truth: You are a miracle living in a miraculous world! Ultimately there is no end to this elegant, natural and synergistic method of healing. It continues to unfold inner potential, inner intelligence and inner power that motivates and encourages us to greater and greater self-expression. Through Ayurveda we become the master of our own lives, living its wisdom artfully.
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