Ayurveda has a concept of Swasthvritta “Sphere of Health “
Let us imagine a sphere of light around us and outside it, is all darkness. This sphere constitutes all the healthy habits and strength of our mind and body. Conceptually, as this sphere diminishes, we become more and more vulnerable to darkness of diseases. We can also assume that it is a part of aura that one has around him.
Assuming that the light in the sphere is because of the life factor or the soul, let us imagine that the size of the sphere detonates the strength of the body whereas the brightness detonates the strength of the mind.
So for a healthy life, one should grow and maintain this sphere of health. The better and more compatible health practices we have, this sphere will be bigger and brighter, which reflects our ability to foresee more, to do more and to accomplish more. It reflects immunity and stamina that your body has against diseases.
For the people who have bad health habits, this sphere will be smaller and duller; such person will fall sick and succumb easily to diseases and other external factors.
There are 2 types of patients defined based on their mental strength
Strong minded – these are the people who are mentally very strong, capable of enduring heavy discomfort for a long time, without much visible agony. In such people, even a big disease may appear to be trivial, due to concealed symptoms.
Feeble minded – Completely opposite, small problem may look big because of their inability to endure. They shout and jump at every little pain in their body. Normally, these kind of people have some kind of emotional pain that reflects through their attention seeking behaviour.
With the concept of Swasthyavritta, it becomes easier to understand that a person with a relatively weak body (smaller circle) but a strong mind or will power(brighter circle) will be able to defeat the darkness of diseases more certainly.
When a person is angry with destructive thoughts, his thoughts first attack his body. We all know about auto immune diseases. You must have experienced many times that when you are angry for some time, afterwards you feel very tired and drained. Unfortunately, this becomes a routine for some people and they get habituated to such dark thinking, which is inviting for diseases.
This sphere has different components according to the type of mind or thought process.
Mind is said to be of 3 types
Satvic – Intellectual, wise
Rajsic – Imperial, Imposing
Tamsic – Dull, lethargic
If we assume that each sphere has its own colour according to its mind energy, then Satvic will be white, orange, and yellow
Rajsic – Red
Tamsic – Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green
Now we have 3 dimensions of thought – size, brightness and colour of the sphere.
If you see red object in blue light then it will appear black!
The point is to make clear that all people have different minds so their Swasthvritta are also different. One set of health practices might not fit the other. One man’s food is another man’s poison. Our Swasthvritta originates in our mind, so if our health practices are borrowed and we don’t feel happy about them, then they are not in sync with our mind and so they will never be effective in keeping us healthy, ever if they have proved to be very beneficial to many other people.
There are many people who conceptually do not agree with non-vegetarian food. Such food, if consumed, will never bring them any nutrition, instead it might create toxins from undigested food.
Similarly, many people who eat vegetarian diet but are very ambitious, regal and daring, might profit from a non-vegetarian or a high protein diet and absorb it quite readily as it is the food subconsciously sought by their mind. Because the mind develops the body according to its aim and it suits an ambitious person to be ready for physical hard work and have good stamina. A soldier with a fighter mind will appreciate the benefits of a non-vegetarian diet, but a intellectual will go for a simpler and easy to digest diet, that helps supply more blood to the brain instead of the muscles.
We all have coloured thinking, so you should eat and live according to the colour of your mindJ, to keep your mind and body in sync.
Another way to maintain the sync between external inputs and the mind is to change the mind, change the colour, the thought process. So whatever comes from outside is easily assimilated without disturbances.
Therefore Swasthvritta also includes meditation and other such activities for mental flexibility. There is no surety of peace in religious rituals, but spiritual practices are great for mental health. Methods for maintaining mental health also differs according to the minds of the people.
So to conclude, you have your own Swasthvritta which is as unique as you are and your innocent pleasure is the guiding light for you to discover it.
This series will help you with the tools to develop your unique health routine!
There are 2 fields of health, which are also the fields of diseases – Mind and body
So we should regulate our mental and physical inputs. Like our body cells, we should become selectively permeable to external inputs: embrace the compatible ones and be impervious to incompatible ones
2 major parts of Swasthvritta are appropriate Aahar (Material Input) and appropriate Vihar (adjustment to surrounding)
Aahar – It is interesting to note that all material inputs absorbed by the body can be termed as Aahar, so the body ointment or the unwashed soap on the skin is also is an Aahar that might affect the skin!
8 ways of Aahar in body (Intake)
Oral – solids, liquids
Nasal – Smell, air
Eyes – Kohl, Eye make-up
Ears – Liquids, air (There is ayurvedic treatment of putting medicated smoke in the ear for ear ache and many other disease.)
Skin – Air (vapour, smoke), Liquids, ointment, powder
Anal Route – Enema, smoke
Rectal Route – Enema, smoke
According to Ayurveda, Aahar is more important as it helps to strengthen the body from inside, so even effects of wrong Vihar or lifestyle can be overcome. Effects of Aahar are also more prominent on the mind. It is rightly said that you are what you eat!
Vihar or lifestyle covers the following factors –
Sattva is the mind; also it is synonymous with the mental strength. As earlier discussed our body is a physical manifestation of our mind. In fact not only our body, our relations, house, work; everything evolves and gets life from our mind. Everything appears the way we see it.
Compatibility is the key. Nothing is good or bad categorically; everything should be defined in context to the person concerned. It is interesting to note that the prescribed amount of the food and medicines for a person in Ayurveda, depends on the measurements of his body, for example amount of grain one should eat in a single meal is equal to the amount of grains he can hold, putting his hands together. Earlier, labourers were given grains in the units of the amount they can hold putting their hands together, as wages. Also the size of heart is defined as equal to the size of the fist of the person, which is again different from person to person. Salt or medicinal powders(churna) should be taken in a pinch, which again will be different according to the size of the fingers of each person.
In context of mental compatibility, everything depends on the kind of mind energy you have (Satvic, Rajsic, and Tamsic); classical singing might a wonderful stress buster for someone, but not necessarily for you. You might like rock or pop, or might like rock climbing even better.
Compatible Aahar for mind includes – cheerful conversations, blessings, praise, Satsang (company of likeminded people / well-wishers / wise men/cheerful and positive people)
Compatible Vihar for mind includes – be in state of happiness, satisfaction, lack of jealousy, anger, hatred, be close to nature.
Anger management is a very important factor for mental health. We get angry because we are able to do nothing about the incompatibility between what we want and what we have. We cannot get everything in life. Tolerant nature is the base of mental health. It is said that the person who never gets angry and never have other negative emotions, will never fall sick and have long healthy life.
Also if you have to prioritize between health habits, take the one that feels good first, because its cheerful effect on mind is more important than the effect on the body.
Compatible Aahar for body – differs according to the
- Likes and dislikes
- Prakruti (body constitution)
- Digestive Agni (Fire)
- Physical activity
Compatible Vihar for body – differs according to the
- Likes and dislikes
- Prakruti (body constitution)
Compatible Aahar and vihar will be discussed in Ritucharya.