Today we had our first class with our new instructor, Marisa Laursen. We discussed more on the meaning of Ayurveda and Svastha. Simply translated from sanskrit, Svastha means “perfect health”. The word comes from the words Sva (Self) and Stha (Established, steady, solid). To be in perfect health in the ayurvedic sense is to be solid in the knowing of one’s own Self.
There are two distinctions to be made in the word “Self”:
– one is self, lowercase, meaning the ego or our lower nature
– two is Self, capital “S”, meaning the soul, or higher nature.
Now what do I mean when I say soul? Most of us can conjure up an image or a definition in our mind pretty quickly. But not all of us believe in such things. I need to preface that whether or not you believe in god or the soul, or practice any religion, truly does not matter from an ayurvedic perspective.
What matters is that everyone is on a personal journey towards their own inner truth. You do not need to be a theist to feel connected to all of existence.
I bring this up only because someone in class had a great question today. So much of Ayurveda does talk about the soul. How do we help someone who does not believe in god, or things that seem so related to religion?
As someone who identifies pretty strongly as an atheist, it may seem odd to people that know me that I have chosen such a seemingly spiritual path. But being an atheist has no bearing on my ability to discover truth when I meditate, or feel stillness when watching a sunset, or to realize how infinitely insignificant and tiny I am when looking up at the stars. Anyone on a personal path of self discovery can do Ayurveda. Ayurveda is for everyone, regardless of what they believe. It is only our own labels like “Atheist” and “Theist” that serve to segregate us more. These labels really compartmentalize us and separate us into having arguments about things we can’t prove or disprove. These discussions can be simultaneously entertaining and aggravating, but are merely a distraction and only serve to make us feel more disconnected.
I will say it again: Ayurveda is for everyone. And anyone can achieve Svastha.
There are certain things we need to understand if we want to be healthy. Knowing what causes disease will help us to understand how to reach Svastha.
From an ayurvedic approach, there are 3 causes of disease:
1) Misuse of Senses, or Asatmendyartha Samyoga
– taking in disharmonious sights, sounds, foods, smells, and sensations (ie – stress caused by a violent environment)
2) Failure of the Intellect, or Prajnaparadha
– knowing what is healthy but choosing to misuse the senses anyway (ie – choosing to eat fast food even though we all know it’s extremely unhealthy)
3) Transformation, or Parinama
– linear time and motion changes in nature (ie- seasons changing) that are beyond our control
– dynamic changes in our perception of biological time (ie- dwelling on thoughts of past or future) that can be within our control
There is also one higher cause of disease, which is forgetting our true self. Regardless, if we can understand these three causes of illness, we can then figure out how to heal.
I have made a flowchart to help better illustrate:
We will delve more into details on this as time goes on, and until then as always I wish you good health.