Renowned cosmologist Carl Sagan once said, “The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.” Now isn’t that a beautiful way of looking at life? It took millions of years for the Universe to be born, and millions more for the human body to take the shape it has today. And quite inevitably, with its transition came transformed perceptions and altered visions. So much of what we perceive ourselves comes from the society we live in, and the cultures we have grown up in.
The constant competition and compulsive need to be part of the rat race leave us feeling disconnected, discontent, overworked, and poorly nourished. Sometimes, we are so busy striving for ‘success’ that we forget about the simple pleasures of life. While we may be meeting our physical needs, we forget that like every other being, we too need love.
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Self-Love at the core of Ayurvedic Philosophy
This is where the idea of Self-Love kicks in. Contrary to what we have been led to believe, Self-Love is more than just luxurious spas, a night spent partying with friends and binge-watching your favorite shows on Netflix.
Self-Love essentially means accepting ourselves in the most unconditional ways. It is acceptance of our indifferences, our flaws, our good qualities, and the characteristics that are unique to us as individuals. Self-Love is a concept that stands at the core in Ayurveda wherein the practice of Self-Love manifests into Self-Care, Self-Assessment, Self-Improvement, Self-Discipline, and Self-Awareness. While all of these things look and appear different for each individual given our distinct needs and qualities, Ayurveda prescribes actionable tools and mechanisms that allow us to connect our Jivaatman (little self) with our Paramaatman (true self). Keeping wholesomeness and longevity in the center, Ayurveda essentially paves the way to attain a balanced state of health, happiness, and contentment.
The human body, as per Ayurveda, comprises of three energies or functional principles called the Tridoshas that govern the psycho-physiological functions of the body and consist of:
- Vata – the energy of movement
- Pitta – the energy of digestion and metabolism
- Kapha – the energy of lubrication and structure
Panch-Mahabhutas and the Human Body
The Vata, Pitta, and Kapha dosha are made up of the five great elements known as the Panch-Mahabhutas that comprise of:
- Akash Mahabhuta (ether/space) – associated with space or cavity, this element emphasizes the need to have the necessary spaces between our bones and joints, our thoughts and emotions. Any imbalance in this element in the human body may lead to irritable behavior, anxiety, joint pain, and insomnia.
- Vayu Mahabhutua (air) – associated with motion, dryness, and cold nature, the Vayu Mahabhuta is responsible for our body movements and motions. Our blood circulation, breathing, movement of thoughts and limbs all happen because of this element present in our bodies.
- Teja Mahabhuta (fire) – associated with friction and heat, in the human body, it is the Teja or Agni Mahabhuta that facilitates digestion and metabolism that are extremely crucial to our health and wellbeing as per Ayurveda. The digestive fire mirrors the Sun and in turn dictates our physiological processes.
- Jala Mahabhuta (water) – associated with liquidity or fluidity, Jala Mahabhuta is the element that is present in the human body in the maximum proportion. It aids in the dissolution of the Aakash Mahabhuta in the body and provides essential nourishment along with soothing pain and inflammation.
- Prithvi Mahabhuta (earth) – associated with dense, hard, and heavy materials, this element is responsible for providing structure and stability to the body. With the power to hold, stop, and stabilize, the Prithvi Mahabhuta represents durability and strength in the human body.
Now that we have understood what constitutes our physical selves, it is imperative for us to indulge in Self-Love for our bodies to bloom and evolve following the principles of Ayurveda. The ancient texts provide for various tools and modes that allow us to assess our Prakruti and Vikruti, thus helping us understand ourselves better. Any imbalance caused in the state of our constitution can be corrected by seeking and applying the right remedies, and of course, some Self-Love!
Practicing Self-Love as per Ayurveda
Ayurveda strongly recommends following a Dinacharya (daily regimen) which is not only preventive of any illnesses but also actively invigorates our body. Dinacharya can be said to be one of the first and most significant steps of indulging in Self-Love in an Ayurvedic way. Rising in the Brahmamuhurta, releasing wastes and clearing your bowels, tongue scrapping, Kavala-Gandusha (oil pulling) and Nasya (nasal cleansing) are some foremost steps in a basic Dinacharya. While waking early provides more room to gather our thoughts with the ether element, cleansing activities like tongue scraping and oil pulling enable smooth digestion which is a facet of the fire element.
Indulging in Abhyanga (oil massage) is one of the easiest ways of cherishing and loving ourselves. We are tending to soreness, feeding our souls, and immersing ourselves in the warm embrace of the positive energies that radiate from our bodies. This way, we are also connecting with the air and water elements in our bodies that responsible for our body movement and lucidity respectively. Working out or doing Yoga regularly is also an excellent way for us to manage and be in control of the earth element as being physically active enables stability and provides structure to the body. Meditating or simply spending some time by yourself also aids in calming your thoughts.
Achieving balance and good health
Ayurveda firmly believes that true balance and good health can only be achieved when the four pillars of health – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – are in equilibrium. This is why apart from the basic Dinacharya, one must also actively partake in things they enjoy doing. It could be something as simple as listening to mellow music while having breakfast, journaling, or reading your favorite book. Regularly staying in touch with good company and people whose presence makes you happy should also be a priority if one wishes to attain optimal emotional health.
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The Great Buddha once said, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” While the concept of Self-Love seems to have convoluted with time, the Ayurvedic texts act as our anchor and guiding light in understanding ourselves better and providing us time-tested techniques that channelize our thoughts, emotions, and actions in ways that are nothing but beneficial for us. These tools of Self-Awareness, Discipline, Improvement, and Care allow us to get a deeper and clearer insight into what could be a beautiful life for us. It’s time that we implemented these principles in our lives and witness the magic that Self-Love brings with it!