Ayurveda doctor, former general director of the All India Institute of Ayurveda
Prof. Dr. Abhimanyu Kumar MD (Ayu) MSc PhD is Vice Chancellor of the Uttarakhand Ayurved University in India. Previously, he was Executive Director of the All India Institute of Ayurveda in New Delhi, the new Excellence Initiative of the Indian Ministry of Health AYUSH for Postgraduate Education and Specialist Medicine in Ayurveda. He also holds the position of Director General of the CCRAS Central Councils for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences for several years. Prior to that, he was active for many years as Head of the Department of Ayurvedic Pediatrics, NAI, Jaipur. He holds a PhD in Pediatrics and a Master in Applied Psychology. He has also published three books and more than 60 scientific articles.
Practical Ayurveda guidelines to enjoy health and vitality in everyday life
Prof. Dr. Abhimanyu Kumar
Ayurveda is not simply a system of medicine, but it offers something great which makes our life happy, healthy and prosperous. In that way, it justifies its literal meaning, the 'Science of Life'. This science is primarily focused at offering the best of life, in terms of health, happiness and a lot more. It takes care of our physical, mental, social and spiritual health so that we can enjoy health and vitality in everyday life. Practical Ayurveda guidelines for better health and vitality are around its fundamental principles. For this purpose, concepts of prakriti, agni, ama, diurnal variation, rasayan etc. play a very important role. Three sub-pillars of life; diet (ahar), sleep (nidra) and way of life (brahmacharya) are basic factors to regulate our body-mind system and help to provide optimal output from our body and mind.
Our Prakriti makes us unique and our body-mind system is programmed accordingly. Every cell of the body performs as per prakriti signals linked with related five basic elements. Because everyone is composed of all three doshas, these constitutional types are indicative of the predominance doshas. The activities of the dosas in the prakriti represent the normal activities of the body. Thus, prakriti assists with daily, preventative measures to optimise health.
Agni is the intrinsic force of the body which interacts with our body system at three levels through its thirteen types. Therefore, balanced agni keeps us healthy by regulating our basic cellular metabolism. Digestive fire (jathragni) at gross level influences our digestive system and becomes the bases to decide nature of our food, quantity, timings etc. depending on its intensity. For this purpose, in our routine life knowledge of digestive fire is very essential. There are simple methods to assess the nature and behaviour of our digestive and metabolic systems. Our vitality (Ojus) depends upon our agni in a large way. The nourishment of ojas in turn nourishes agni and the dhatus, and as a result provides good health and longevity.
The status of ojas can be assessed by the lustre of the eyes, the strength of limbs, and the function of the mind and senses. In normalcy, ojas is for the most part distributed equally all over the body, whereas in acute disease or trauma the flow of ojas is blocked, and in chronic disease the flow of ojas gradually becomes deficient. In a broader context, however, ama is the impairment of one's ability to derive nourishment from life, be it physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. A correctly functioning agni confers a harmonious benefit with proper discrimination of the body, mind and senses. To keep ojus free with adequate flow in the body, certain Ayurveda guidelines are very much helpful.
Ayurveda creates awareness of factors which are responsible to maintain haemostasis in body and mind by examining the dynamic quality of seasonal variation, and similarly, the differing influences within each 24-hour period. Thus, to keep ourselves healthy and happy our daily and seasonal regimens should be kept aligned with dietary and lifestyle patterns. Besides cyclic impact of diurnal and seasonal variations on dosha status, there is great impact of our behaviour and conduct on our mental, social and spiritual health. Ayurveda identifies it as sadvritta.
Dinacharya is the daily regimen described in Ayurveda, which takes into account the dynamic quality of each day (24 hours). At any given point during the day or night a particular dosha is said to be dominated, accordingly exert an influence. The potential for an imbalance to occur in that particular period may be kept moderated by a regime that takes this into consideration.
To keep ourselves physically and mentally fit, it is important to take note of the gradual transition between different doshas and the respective time of day each governs. For example, the morning gets influenced by vata which gradually diminish and kapha becomes dominant. Similarly, as the evening gets closer to midnight kapha gradually declines as the influence of pitta gradually increases. Pitta governs noon and midnight in the clock of twenty-four hours. Our physical and mental functions get affected and swings, accordingly. Dietary, lifestyle and work planning considering cyclic impact of doshas during various day hours is the best way to keep your doshas in more balanced form to offer best from our prakriti and keeps away from vikriti (disease).
Seasonal variations are regulated with the influence of Sun. The influence of the solar cycle, or the time it takes for the earth to complete one orbit around the sun, can be divided into two equal periods, called Southward (daksinayana) and Northward (uttarayana). The Southward period begins with the summer solstice, the beginning of the decline of the sun's influence in the northern (hemi- sphere and its increasing dominance in the southern hemisphere. During the Southward, especially in temperate areas such as North America and Europe, the lunar cooling influence of the moon begins to dominate, the sun and warm weather are gradually obscured by cloud and the environment becomes wet, cold and windy. Although marked by a brief period of fruition at the end of summer, the vital energy of the planet during the southward descends back into the earth to wait out the cycle of winter.
The human body is composed primarily of earth and water element along with others. Now we can see how the quality of these climactic influences (i.e. wet, cold and windy) vitiates the basic characteristic of the human body, weakening agni during this season facilitates the production of ama. In contrast, the Northward (Uttarayana) period begins with the winter solstice, the time when the light of the sun begins to rise from its lowest point in the sky in the northern hemisphere to its highest. The powerful influence of the Sun during this period gradually begins to dominate, and its progressively warming (ushna) and drying (ruksha) qualities thin the congested properties of Earth and water elements. Thus, the period of time marked by uttarayana generally exerts a stimulating and tonic effect on the human body, enhancing agni and the elimination of ama.
Vitality tells story of the body. Strong vitality is the end product of good digestion, proper metabolism, formation of strong dhatus (tissue types) and perfect functioning of senses.To support it, there are different kinds of rasayana therapy that can be implemented, with different goals kept in mind. on a mundane level, rasayana therapy is used to tone up the body and mind. broadly speaking it improves the overall quality of health.
Three sub-pillars of our life; diet, sleep and way of life are the key factors to regulate our body-mind system and keep our health and happiness intact. Ayurveda suggests that there are certain dietary regimens that are best suited to the individual doshas. Ayurveda recognises that there are certain foods that influence the individual doshas, and that a true understanding of diet comes from appreciating each individual dietary article, rather than memorising a list of dietary 'dos and don'ts'. Besides this if we take it beyond any regimen, all diets for all people should be healthy, diverse and whole- some, and attempt to reflect the season and the local ecology based on Ayurveda principles.
Ayurveda offers some easy, all-natural solutions that can improve the quality of sleep. One of the most important things one can do to balance sleep and your overall mental and physical health, is dinacharya (daily routine). Often, sleep disturbances come from an imbalanced routine, working for long hours, eating at irregular times, or going to bed at a different time every night. To bring the body back into balance, one should consider these factors to keep the body's dosha based biological rhythms running smoothly to get appropriate sleep.
Ayurveda way of life helps us to enjoy more aspects of the life. Besides diet and sleep, other lifestyle variables which influence on health, are- exercise, sexual behaviour, alcohol abuse, modern technologies, recreation, study etc. also need to be considered well. Health is not just about avoiding a disease or illness. It is about physical, mental and social well-being too. The presentation aims at helping to decide to make healthier choices adopting Ayurveda guidelines in the lifestyle which will give more opportunity to enjoy more aspects of life for longer with vitality.
The Ayurveda way to deal with emotional intelligence
Prof. Dr. Abhimanyu Kumar
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is an integral part of our 'body-mind-soul' triad which is very well linked with our Prakriti (Ayurveda body-mind constitution) by way of characters imbibed in Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Sattva, Raja and Tama; at physical and mental level. Ayurveda principles explore the potential of our body & mind and offers best opportunity to all of us to excel in every field of our life. In real sense it's better understanding provides us the key to success. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. A high EI helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life's challenges.
Understanding our mind (mana) is the starting point to explore the mystery of Emotional Intelligence. Mind is one and only one though it may appear to be many due to the multiplicity of mental objects which are innumerable and create multiple impulses in the mind. The combination of three qualities of Rajas, Tamas and Sattva also have their effect on the mind and mental activities and these in turn cause the appearance of multifaceted mind. In true sense a mind acts on a single subject at a time. So the mind is one in each person. This mind has its distinct characteristics in each person as it may have been affected by the qualities and individual traits. This trait in the mental make-up of a person contributes to create his/her own individuality. Whatever trait manifests most frequently in a man's mental make-up, of that mentality he/she is said to be. The combinations of the traits, impulses and the qualities are innumerable so the Prakriti (personalities) too are innumerable. That means, each person has his own personality in accordance with this combination and the predominance of a quality and a trait. Each person is made out of the same elements, qualities and their combinations, still however, he/she is unique and is an epitome of the universe. Ayurveda says- 'Man is the epitome of the universe(Macrocosm). There is in person as much diversity as in the world outside; and there is in the world as much diversity as in the person.
Ayurveda provides insight about the three main functions of the mind i.e. perception, cognition and emotion. These functions can be classified and named differently but in the context of the psychological application in Ayurveda, this threefold general classification is more suitable. A review of the theory of cognition and perception, it is necessary to know the theory of conation, emotion and motivation in Ayurveda. It is already mentioned that the intellect or reasoning is having the power of decision-making. But there are emotional forces which affect the intellect, reasoning, and the life itself and its goal. Three indeed are the pursuits that should be followed by every- man who is possessed of unimpaired intelligence, understanding, energy and enterprise and who wishes to secure his good both in this world and hereafter. These are the pursuits of life, the pursuits of wealth and the pursuits of the other world (salvation). These are the three main drives and motives in the life of every person. The first among them is the drive for long and healthy life as it is the basis of the other two.
Ayurveda mentions that envy, grief, fear, anger, pride, hatred, and the like are the affections of the mind (manovikaras) due to perversion of the intuitive knowledge (prajnaparadha). Confusion of such intellect is the root of all unwholesome emotions. Sorrow is due to comprehension of non-eternal things as eternal due to the confusion of the intellect (buddhivibhransha), lack of self-control and lapse of right memory.
Ayurveda explains that there is a reciprocal relation between feeling and desire. Pleasure is the cause of desire and aversion is the cause of pain. Both these are kinds of desire, pleasure and pain are mental modes. When the mind is concentrated on the self and acquires a pure vision of it, pleasure and pain are no longer experienced. All wrong desires or emotional perversities are due to prajnaparadha. At the root of all these is grasping. It itself is sorrowful and is the cause of all sorrows. All sorrows can be got rid by the removal of this grasping. Prompted by the grasping and vitiated by prajnaparadha, the mind gives rise to emotional abnormalities like too much attachment, aversion, anger etc. At the back of all these are the confusion of intelligence, lack of self-control and lack of real knowledge. The word Prajna means wisdom or mental inclinations when it is steady, while the word 'aparadh' means violation. When the mind is upset by Rajas and Tamas, prajnaparadha takes place. It affects emotional intelligence in a big way.
The theory of Emotional Intelligence (EI) promises to predict and improve the life skills of individuals. The proponents of the theory believe that in understanding, analyzing and managing emotions in themselves and others, lies the key to an improved quality of life. Salovey and Mayer (1990) first defined EI as an - 'ability to monitor one's own and other's feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and use this information to guide one's thinking and action'.
The concept provides evidence on how people with a good IQ sometimes fail and those who were school dropouts and considered stupid go on to become the most successful ones in their fields. There are a set of various prakriti characteristics which decide a person's emotional intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is a cognitive ability based on prakriti characters (trait) and can be emphasized on emotional perception, emotional assimilation, understanding and management. Emotional self-awareness, self-control, empathy, problem solving, conflict management, leadership, etc. as the characteristics of an emotionally intelligent person. The mixed ability model of Emotional Intelligence proposes that how the Prakriti (personality traits) influence a person's general wellbeing and workplace success.
Prakriti understands emotional intelligence as a cognitive ability and presents the four levels through which a person becomes emotionally intelligent- emotional perception, emotional assimilation, emotional understanding and emotional management. The first step emotional perception is an ability to be self-aware of emotions and to express them accurately. When a person is aware of the emotions he/she is experiencing, he/she moves on to the next level - emotional assimilation. This ability leads him to emotional understanding - an ability to understand complex emotions and also to recognize the transition from one emotion to another. By then he/she becomes adept in dealing with his emotions and thus is able to manage his emotions by connecting to or disconnecting from any emotion at any given situation. This gives him complete control over his impulses and is thus able to think, analyze and behave rationally in any situation. The entire process is purely an intellectual procedure. Status of this whole process varies in case of different types of prakriti (physical as well as mental).
Emotional intelligence relates to the potential for performance and success, rather than performance or success itself, and is considered process-oriented rather than outcome-oriented. It strives to identify in a person the latent capability of being emotionally intelligent. It includes five components - intrapersonal, interpersonal, adaptability, stress management and general mood components. Along with the aspect of emotional self-awareness, self-control, self-expression, and empathy; the ability to assess the relation between the emotionally experienced and the actual nature of an object, stress tolerance, and the strength to stay happy and optimistic in the face of adversity. organizational awareness, leadership, teamwork and collaboration.