Ayurveda Day 17: The Car Mechanic Metaphor

When I was in my car accident, I had a doctor who told me that the body is like a machine. It is important to maintain it properly and to assess where there’s damage to repair it. He told me that a doctor is like a mechanic for your body. We often need someone to help us fix things we don’t understand, otherwise we cannot heal. I understand the general intent of this metaphor, but the only problem is, I don’t trust mechanics.

Okay, let’s slow down a bit. It’s not that I think all mechanics are bad. I should clarify that it’s taken me 29 years to find a good one. Along the way I’ve been ripped off too many times to count. My issue really isn’t with them though, it’s with not knowing. You are completely at their mercy, and have to trust that they know what’s best for you, even if your gut tells you otherwise. It’s true, I am not a car aficionado. I can do basic things – change a tire, fix the oil. But I can’t assess and repair damage like a mechanic would. I have no instinct when it comes to fixing cars. I have to either learn to be a mechanic or go see one. It is in this same fashion I went to see my doctor when he told me this metaphor.

But your body is not a machine.

Your body is far more complicated than even the most complex machines. It is a massive fragile organic metabolizing computer, that within itself contains billions of individual cells and organisms that are themselves mini fragile organic metabolizing computers. It is in theses relationships that we are what we are.

Our body is an ecosystem.

Tugging on any one string will affect many other things in the body. This is why we cannot always simply target an individual problem without creating other side effects (pharmaceutical drugs for example). In a car, you can merely replace or repair indiscriminate parts and everything will be fine. The thing is though, our body has a survival instinct whereas your car does not. Your car will not tell you when it is damaged unless you know what to look for. Your body however, will tell you and does know what to look for already. It’s in our primal survival instinct to know.

Within each of us is a voice that tells us when we are doing things that create disharmony in our ecosystem. Whether or not we choose to listen is a whole other issue. When we don’t listen, we experience pain. This is how our body again tries to teach us that what we are doing is not in our body’s best interest. Our body has a mind of it’s own. It is great at giving us feedback.

Ayurveda is great at helping you create a life that tends towards good health. It is preventative (can help you not get sick in the first place) and also can provide relief from symptoms, and in many case, cure symptoms entirely, with minimal or no side effects. Ayurveda will also be mindful of any side effects and work to reduce and balance out those changes in the body. It does not sacrifice one part of you for another. Ayurveda understands you are an ecosystem, and that all parts must thrive for there to be prosperity.

In really aggressive forms of disease and emergency situations, modern medicine is great. Many lives have been saved thanks to advancements in this field. But almost all of us live and suffer on a daily basis with some chronic issue. When those issues become too intense, we feel the only option is to go towards aggressive treatment. When we just “need to get through the day”, modern medicine often just masks our suffering without treating the cause. Modern medicine often sacrifices one part of you for another. It assumes you are like a machine. It may see how one part is connected to another, like a bone to a joint, but it doesn’t go much deeper than that when dealing with treatment. Side effects are okay and just collateral when it comes to treating the most prominent symptoms.

We live in a fast paced society. It’s so much easier to just take a pill to “fix” something. But we are not creating balance in our ecosystem. The thing is, we all know this about ourselves too. We know that every time we decide to eat fried foods, or drink too much soda pop, or not get enough rest, etc. that we are doing something that will make us sick. It is undeniable. Our bodies immediately give us feedback. We ignore these bad practices one choice at a time, then we wonder why we feel so tired, sluggish, stressed, or worse. But we already know. That instinct is there. But each of us feels like somehow we are the exception to the rule, that we can handle it, and we are stronger. We feel invincible when we really are not.

Ayurveda is a science of personal responsibility. It asks us to have deep respect for our bodies and all the life that resides in it. Only through this understanding and establishment of ourselves can we be truly healthy (swastha). It is not harmonious to just wait until you get sick enough to feel that you are not invulnerable and then go see the doctor. Our body often pushes us to this point of suffering because we have been ignoring its smaller signals to change something. Continuing to ignore these signals will lead us back to the mechanic every time. Though our car may get fixed, it will cost us, and we won’t have learned any better how to prevent damage our maintain our cars in the end.

It’s as if we are addicted to drama, and will only make a change when something is really a huge unmanageable problem, and we frantically search for someone to help us because we feel overwhelmed. It’s kind of funny when you realize how simple it all is.

So you might be asking by now,

“How is an Ayurvedic Practitioner any different from a mechanic?”

As an Ayurvedic Practitioner, our goal is to work ourselves out of a job. We want you to come see us, so that you can maintain your own health. We don’t want you to need us the way you need a mechanic, or a lawyer, or a television repairman. We want you to be able to learn about yourselves. We educate you about how to maintain your own health and recognize when problems arise. Granted, there is a lot to learn, but it’s within everyone’s reach.

You will use your body more than you use anything else in your life. Be brave: Learn what health means for you. Learn from Ayurveda.

With gratitude,

S

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