The Story Of Disease: An Ayurvedic Understanding

The Story Of Disease
There's a fascinating story I've heard that describes the "Summary of The Process of Disease Formation," according to Ayurvedic Medicine. First, disease begins when we forget our true nature. This is known as the "Primordial Cause" of disease. We forget how we as spirit are spiritualizing through the human experience. According to Marisa Laursen, a professor at the California College of Ayurveda, "the mind is a place of purity and clarity. The thought comes along and disturbs the mind."

the "Primordial Cause" of disease.

"Thought is part of ego and the chatter becomes the smoke screen that disturbs us from the true self." The ego creates stories and draws upon attachments to the past and projections of the future, constantly shape-shifting and vacillating between the two; preventing us from being absolutely absorbed in the present moment because it fears its cessation. There is a sacred text called the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the first line of the yoga sutras states "yoga chitta vritti nirodha", which means that "Yoga (union/merging) involves the cessation of the disturbances of the mind." There are 195 sutras or verses and of the 195 versus the 194 verses show us how to accomplish verse number one.

"Ayurvedic Living" By Dr. Marc Halpern

The process and movement of time, which is known as "Parinama" or that which relates to things that change, is the next cause and contributing factor. There are two aspects to time. One relates to Linear time, which is out of our control because this involves the cycles of the earth revolving around the sun and the changes of season. The second form of time consists of Biological time, which, though is in our control, it is dynamic. This is because the pacing of biological time changes with response to our motion and as motion increases, the rate of biological time increases. With this, the body either ages faster when we are moving faster and more slowly when we slow down. A busy mind causes us to perceive time as moving quickly and a mind that is still and more anchored in the present moment, time slows down. When the mind moves quickly, the body will reflect this and as the mind moves slower, the body will reflect this too.

“and a mind that is still and more anchored in the present moment" ... 

Once we experience a busy and chaotic/distracted mind, we come to the next step where disease develops. This experience is called "Prajnaparadha" or "crimes against wisdom/failure of intelligence". What happens here is that on some deep level we know what is right for us but we allow our minds to convince us otherwise and we make opposite choices. Our intellect is constantly being used to make decisions and it prefers to choose between pleasure and harmony. This is where the ego feeds off the senses and uses the senses to support its own happiness somehow as it pursues outer pleasures to satisfy itself and perpetuate its own existence through separation/division. Dr. Marc Halpern, President and Founder of the California College of Ayurveda, says "While the ego and the senses speak loudly within the great hall of the mind, the soul speaks in whispers." When we allow our inner wisdom to be ignored, it's because we have given our power away to our senses and this leads to the next place where the five senses, the eyes, ears, mouth, the skin, and smell dictate our interaction with the world.

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This is called "Asatmendryartha Samyoga" or "unwholesome conjunction of the senses with their objects of their affection." Dr. Marc Halpern further explains: "When people take into their body that which does not match their constitution, they are considered misusing their senses. In addition to taking in what is not harmonious, a person may also take in too much or too little of what is energetically harmonious for that person. This too will cause disease."

... only Ayurveda has a full definition of what is health.

What is amazing is that of all the healthcare systems in the world, only Ayurveda has come up with an adequate and full definition of what is health. Other systems, like Allopathy, define health as the "absence of disease" but Ayurveda says this "Sama Dosha Sama Agnis ca Sama Dhatu Mala kriya Prasannatmendriya Manah Svasta itiabhidyate" which means "balanced constitution(Vata/Pitta/Kapha), balanced digestion, balanced tissues, balanced waste products (urine, feces, sweat), balanced senses (eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin), balanced mind (sattva, rajas,tamas), and alignment with spirit is what healthy is." Any disturbance or abnormality in any of these is an indication of disease.

Stages Of Disease ... 
Additionally, Ayurveda has broken down disease pathology into six stages, known as "Samprapti." Each of the stages can be understood as such: Accumulation, Aggravation, Overflow, Relocation, Manifestation and Diversification. There is an image that helps to grasp these concepts more easily. Let's say we have a tree and the roots are the doshas (tendencies towards imbalances based on constitutional determinants, of Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and these roots are below the surface. What is above the surface is the trunk of the tree and this represents Overflow, where the blood and plasma exist as part of the circulatory system. As the tree progresses upward, the branches form and this is known as the Relocation Phase. From the branch, we have a bud and this budding is the Manifestation of the disease. After it starts to bloom and this blooming is the full-fledged experience of the disease, known as Diversification. According to Ayurvedic prevention and management of disease there is a natural cycle that happens throughout the year and with each season. As one season is present, that is the Aggravated Phase and the season that just left has now been Alleviated but while we are in the Aggravated Phase the next season is already Accumulating.

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A Closer Look
As each Dosha (biological constitution, that is prone to decay) undergoes this experience of time/season change, the natural Alleviation of particular symptoms occurs. IF or WHEN, for some reason or another, this cycle is interrupted and Alleviation is prevented, we enter into Overflow and this is when a disease is really progressing. In other words, it is during the Accumulation and Aggravation phases that this is the beginning of a disturbance that begins in the digestive system. Commonly ignored, may appear subtle or overt, disturbances would be: sluggish digestion (weak/low digestive fire = Manda Agni), gas/dry stools (variable digestion = Vishama Agni), and/or burning indigestion (sharp digestion = Tikshna Agni). Low digestion relates to Kapha. Variable digestion relates to Vata and sharp digestion relates to Pitta. Balanced digestion is called Sama Agni where there are no digestive disturbances. It is during the Accumulation and Aggravation phases that we can catch a disease from further progressing but we are usually too busy and less sensitive to notice and we keep pushing ahead until other symptoms develop and scream for out attention. It is at these stages that, according to Ayurveda, that we can simply balance our diet and lifestyle, making better choices that we can prevent diseases from increasing. When the symptoms have progressed and they enter into the circulatory system then we have to intervene with herbs/medications and other therapies. Regardless of what stage a disease is at, diet and lifestyle must be adjusted in order to secure the optimization of health. Herbs/medications alone are not meant to do the job completely as we are whole beings and not just treating parts of a body/mind. This is the holistic approach and effort. Even when herbs are administered, diet and lifestyle provisions are made to ensure success or at least make some improvements.

Disease starts out as "dis-ease".

Prognosis is about the likelihood of improvement and/or correction of a condition. Disease, depending on what stage of development it is at can always be managed. There are diseases that are Easy to cure, Difficult to cure, Incurable but not terminal and Terminal.  Disease starts out as "dis-ease" and picks up momentum until it has completely manifested itself as disease and by returning ease through our diet and lifestyles we can encourage disease to return back to ease. Importantly, this ease also involves supporting the well-being of a person through their state of mind. I've said for many years now, that it's about the little things that build up to the big things.

There are of course extenuating circumstances that are to be factored into all this, circumstances such as external factors like accidents and other outside variations of trauma that can influence health and disease pathology. Karma falls into this and it is important to remember that karma is not about blame or judgment but about balance. Karma is not about punishment or reward, it is about balance. In Ayurveda and Yoga, we know that karma is a result of selfish acts and by being selfless we can release ourselves from the cumulative effects and experiences of karma. This is a discussion that requires further exploration at another time and escapes the main purpose of this present article which is meant to give a general understanding and summary of the cause of disease. This current article is meant to share a perspective and expand our lens on the possibilities that surround dis-ease leading to disease. Simply, we can always either prevent or manage.

In summary, take note of what your senses are doing. Take control of them. They are like the five horses without a charioteer and once the charioteer takes hold, the horses can be guided. Similarly, our innermost and highest version of ourselves is the charioteer and when we take hold of the five senses we can get a better handle on our lives. Ayurveda has in place a five sense therapy protocol designed to support this process and journey. With regard to other stressors, by reducing the stress we experience as the mind stresses because of past and future projections and attachments, we can feel more in touch with what is happening to day and embrace the grace of the moment that invites us to be intimate with it. Practices such as, yoga, Ayurveda, meditation, Tai Chi, and other holistic modalities are meant to support us in remembering who we are and what we have come here for. When we remember who we are by escaping the illusions and story-telling of the mind rooted in the attachment to past and future events, we will find our interactions with the world coming from a more wholesome place and the choices we make will be more in alignment with what is true in our hearts and not what we think is true in our minds.

About The Author
Vishnu Om

Vishnu M.Ayu, BA Psy., LMT, CSP, E-RYT, CS2, is a licensed massage therapist with more than 15 years of experience and Master’s of Ayurveda/Yoga from Hindu University of America. Vishnu is currently enrolled in California College of Ayurveda with the intention of obtaining his doctoral degree in Ayurveda. He is the owner of ‘Still Point Ayurveda’ Center and offers Ayurveda out of a few locations. To learn more about Vishnu and his practice you can contact him at Still Point Ayurveda.


“Prajnaparadha” - Is Ignorance The Root Cause Of All Disease?

 

Is Ignorance The Root Cause Of All Disease?
Man is a trinity of body, mind, and Soul and life as a whole is designed to promote human happiness, health, and growth. That said, the question naturally arises - what is the root cause of disease? According to Ayurveda, disease is often the end result of a long process and can actually be detected and addressed at the early stage of development; hence prevention being better than a cure. More simply, disease is an imbalance. Ayurveda explains that the disease process begins with disturbances in the balance of the doshas; i.e. bodily humors.

“Health results from the natural, balanced state of the doshas.
Therefore, the wise try to keep them in their balanced state.” – Charak Samhita

 

“Ignorance Is Not Bliss.”
We email. We google. We tweet. And of course, we facebook. In this incredible age of technology, our senses have been taken over by constant sensory stimulation. According to Ayurveda, excessive indulgence in any physical or mental activity results in excess vata which may then ] create an imbalance in the release of neurotransmitters thereby overtaxing both the central nervous and endocrine systems. As a result, this can be considered the underlying cause of certain vata imbalances such as insomnia, anxiety, irregular digestion, constipation, etc.

Lifestyle Medicine: Treating The Causes Of Disease

 

Three Major Causes Of Disease

  • wrong use of the senses
  • mistake of the intellect
  • environmental, climate & age

 

1. Wrong Use Of The Senses
Thousands of years ago, the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda has explained the Sanskrit term “asatmyendriyartha samyoga” which simply implies the wrong use or misuse of the senses. For example, excessive indulgence (ati yoga), misuse (hina yoga), and perverse use (mithya yoga) of the senses are considered the major causes of disease.

The Moving Mind
The concept of vata originates from the Sanskrit word “vyv” [vaya] which implies ‘that which moves things’  The science of Ayurveda speaks of vata as being the basis of all movement of the body and mind. When vata is in excess [within the mind] it can result in anxiety, nervousness, depression, insomnia and many other forms of difficulty handling stress. With nearly eighty percent of all diseases in the west being attributed to stress, it is no wonder why Shirodhara has been considered one of the most popular Ayurvedic treatments of modern day.

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Creating Stillness
Ayurveda describes in great detail the benefits of daily oil massage. Not only is massage comforting to the body but essential for overall health and well-being. A dry stick easily breaks but if you soak the same stick in oil it soon becomes flexible. The same happens to the human body. The influence of vata makes the body dry, brittle, and achy via the aging process. Therefore, daily oil massage helps maintain proper functions of the body and ultimately helps to reduce the effects of aging. Shirodhara is a classical and a well-established ayurvedic procedure of slowly and steadily streaming medicated oil on the center of the forehead while resting quietly on a comfortable bed. Other liquids like coconut water, buttermilk, milk, etc. are also used depending on the individual need of the patient. Ultimately, this procedure helps to induce a relaxed state of awareness, mental clarity, and even thought to help produce improved “psychoneuroimmunology”; the ability to handle stress.

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The Benefits Of Meditation
It seems that research centered around the benefits of meditation have now been rolling in steadily validating the ancient wisdom common to both Ayurveda and Yoga. Ayurveda is an ancient science which literally means ‘the science of life’. A basic fundamental premise to both Ayurveda and Yoga is that – both a sound mind and sound body are integral to one’s overall health and well-being.

Just Some Of The Potential Benefits Of Meditation:
– greater clarity and inner calmness
– increased creativity and happiness
– improved sense of emotional stability
– reduced level of anxiety and depression
– improved brain function and memory
– reduced level of stress
… the list can go on and on …

 

2. Mistake Of The Intellect
Ayurveda explains “prajnaparadha” as being a mistake of the intellect and is considered the root cause of all diseases. For example, one may choose to indulge in behaviors such as eating too much, consuming unhealthy food, and working too much which will naturally contribute to the root cause of disease. In essence, the root cause of disease originates by making one’s lifestyle choices only in terms of the five senses, rather than considering life as a whole - considering the body, mind, and Soul. The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda helps to reveal natural principles in order to help determine lifestyle choices that influence health and wellbeing. In other words, helping to live according to natural principles which support the innate intelligence of the body.

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3. Environmental, Climate & Age
Once again, according to the science of Ayurveda, disease is considered to be an imbalanced state of the doshas and changes in the environment, climate, and age can all affect the doshas. For example, Ayurveda nicely describes the three phases of life — as being kapha, pitta, the vata stages of life.

Kapha
The first phase begins with Kapha, the “Spring Type.” We all begin in the womb, a womb of sorts, and this environment is very watery. We establish the solidity of earth known as immunity. This happens from in utero and until the onset of puberty — traditionally from birth and until 15. The word “kapha” means to grow, to create form. It is anabolic. “Mother’s milk” is the primary substance that nurtures the body and mind, establishing immunity. Kapha governs immunity.

Pitta
The next phase is Pitta, the “Summer Type.” Pitta begins with puberty, where testosterone and estrogen further transform the body and mind. Pitta means “that which transforms and digests.” The average age used to be 15, but now is much earlier and lasts until between 45-50. Testosterone is high in men and estrogen is prominent in women, and appetites and metabolism increase. Pitta is about metabolism and governs the endocrine system and digestive system. Sex drive increases. Pitta phase is about establishing and exerting oneself in the world through identity, like the sun wanting to be seen more.

Vata
The last stage is Vata, the “Fall Type.” Vata begins when the processes andropause and menopause initiate. Andropause is the decline of testosterone in men, with an increase in estrogen, and menopause is the decrease of estrogen and an increase in testosterone in women. The poles reverse here. Sex drive slows down. Appetite diminishes. Vata governs the nervous system and sleep quantity and quality changes. This is a more delicate and sensitive time. This time ends when the last breath is taken.

Environmental - ex. GMOs
More and more studies reveal more evidence that GMOs should have been banned before they were even allowed on the market.

“. . . glyphosate disrupts the ability of animals, including humans, to detoxify xenobiotics. This means that exposures to the numerous chemicals in food and the environment, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals and carcinogens, could be causing levels of damage that would not occur if the body were able to detoxify them.”

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Last Point!
Finally, one of the most common cause of disease according to Ayurveda is due to “vegavarodh” which is the suppression of ‘natural urges’ such as micturition, defecation, hunger, and sleep, etc. Interestingly, both the wrong use of the senses [“asatmyendriyartha samyoga”] and the mistake of the intellect [“prajnaparadha”] creates “vegavarodh” - being the suppression of natural urges and creating obstructions to proper flow of the body.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaenous changes. Don’t resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

- Lao Tzu

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.


"Ice Is Not So Nice" - Ancient Wisdom Regarding Ice

 

"Ice Is Not So Nice" 
We add it to beverages. We use it to chill food. We apply it topically and we use it in food, like smoothies. The question is, is ice the best for our health? In traditional Chinese medicine, ice is considered a “poison” when ingested. Ayurveda says the same. Why would these age-old medical systems say something against what so many of us have found great pleasure in? I mean, we use ice in smoothies, cocktails, chilled water with our meals and other similar instances. Why would ice be looked down upon?

According to Ayurveda, ice is an astringent that causes vasoconstriction, or narrowing of the blood vessels. When we ingest ice, it enters into the cavern of the mouth, which has a direct relationship to important organs in the brain, such as the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. It also works with hormones, immunity and mood regulation being that the primary organs of the endocrine system are pituitary, thalamus, hypothalamus, thyroid and eventually adrenals. This cold substance contributes to a disregulation of these systems because the body recognizes this extreme temperature drop as a stress. The body temperature is affected, and the body has to work harder to compensate for this temperature difference.

Ice Puts Undue Stress Upon Digestion
This stress to the body and the recurrence of the incidence of ice has a cumulative effect. Ayurveda states that the quality of an individual’s health is contingent upon the strength and quality of digestion. Ayurveda categorizes digestion according to balanced, weak, sharp/high and/or variable. Balanced digestion is self-evident and implies that the body is mainly balanced in health. When there is stress, this can have various effects on digestion, dictating the health of not only the body but also the mind. If the body doesn’'t obtain the crucial nutrients it needs, we suffer.

Imagine If You Will - The Digestive Flame
Ingesting ice can negatively affect our quality of health. Imagine you have a burner with the flame on any level and you add a piece or two of ice. What happens? The fire goes out. When we ingest ice, we weaken or even douse our digestive fire. Ayurveda, along with other recent Western studies, has linked health issues such as diabetes, obesity, mucous, depression, anxiety, respiratory infections, allergies and other digestive issues to the effects of ice.

Nectar vs. Poison
In Ayurveda, it is said that the nectar of life is hot water and the poison of life is cold water. For example, cleaning pipes out is more effective with hot water versus cold. Through Ayurvedic practices, when we want to stimulate metabolism and promote weight loss through optimal digestion, we take in hot water. Cold water has the opposite effect and lowers metabolism, causing digestion to weaken and weight to increase eventually and quicker for some than others based on constitution and season.

Prajnaparadha - Crimes Against Wisdom
The other main cause of health issues, according to Ayurveda is, what is called Prajnaparadha, which translates to “"crimes against wisdom".” In other words, it’s knowing what is right for us but choosing something different. Bringing anything cold into the body can affect our naturally maintained warm inner environment, so a second thought may give us the opportunity to make a different choice. Next time you’re at the restaurant, ask for warm or hot water instead of the chilled ice water. Try smoothies without ice or at room temperature. As for cocktails, ask for less ice. Save the cold for application to a wound, fever or burn — since this is how ice works best.

About The Author: 
Vishnu M.Ayu, BA Psy., LMT, CSP, E-RYT, CS2, is a licensed massage therapist with more than 15 years of experience and Master’s of Ayurveda/Yoga from Hindu University of America. He is the owner of ‘Hidden Health’ Center and offers Ayurveda out of a few locations. To learn more about Vishnu and his practice you can find him at hiddenhealthcenter.com

Disclaimer:
This information is strictly for educational purpose only and not considered medical advice. Always first discuss with your primary care physician before considering any new health regimen.