Ayurveda – Healing the Whole
Ayurveda is considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create this balance of body, mind, and consciousness according to one’s own individual constitution and how to make lifestyle changes to bring about and maintain this balance. This can be a stepping stone to personal recovery from substance abuse as finding a balance is a crucial part of handling the changes that need to be made internally and externally in one’s life.
The Principles of Ayurveda
Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or functional principles that are present in everyone and everything. Since there are no single words in English that convey these concepts, we use the original Sanskrit words vata, pitta and kapha. These principles can be related to the basic biology of the body.
How to Balance with Ayurveda
To learn how to balance the body, mind, and consciousness requires an understanding of how vata, pitta, and kapha work together. First, identify the dosha. Ayurveda believes everything is composed of five elements: fire, air, water, space, & earth. These elements can be combined to form the three doshas: vata, pitta, kapha. Vata types tend to be creative, lean, forgetful, agile, and prone to anxiety, whereas Pitta people are generally known as leaders that are goal-oriented, focused, aggressive, and are sometimes impatient. Kapha type people are mellow, easy-going, slow, and physically heavier, and generally try to avoid conflict. An individual has all of these aspects within him or her, but one or two of the types are more visible than the others in most cases.
Re-framing our understanding of addiction in this way can begin to shed light on how we view and treat the addicted human, and most importantly, in how we can begin to move forward with providing a compassionate and dignified space for healing.
Ayurveda is sometimes referred to as the “missing manual” for the mind-body system. It gives us a new angle on understanding ourselves that is very comprehensive, simple, natural and powerful–and easily translated into a highly personalized approach to our health. Ayurveda starts to explain their symptoms and tendencies–how and why certain foods, habits, stressors, personalities, environments, seasons and weather make them feel either better or worse.
In short, we can understand addictions as a coping mechanism for an overtaxed stress-response. When we are constantly striving to keep up and get ahead, we are in a hyperactive state of “fight or flight”, activation of the sympathetic nervous system which produces chemicals including cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals are useful when we are actually under severe, life-threatening conditions, but when we are not, and our bodies are still continuing to produce these chemicals in high doses, it creates an imbalance in our systems, altering the natural homeostasis that exists to keep our body-mind connection in balance.