What is meant by being healthy? Health is being physically strong, mentally calm and steady, and emotionally soft inside. You are not healthy when you feel rough inside. When the mind is stiff or the mind is in judgement, it is not in good health. When the emotions are rough, you are not emotionally healthy. Health is that flow from the innermost to the outer, and vice-versa, from the outer to the inner.
Life has four characteristics: it exists, evolves, expresses and extinguishes. And for life to exist, evolve, express and extinguish, it depends on the five elements: earth, water, air, ether and fire. According to Ayurveda, life does not consists of rigid compartments. It is a harmonious flow. Even these five elements which the whole universe is made up of are not tight compartments of defined objects. They flow into one another – fire cannot exist without air, earth and water have space within them.
Ayurveda is the study of life. Veda means knowledge, to know and Ayur is life. The holistic approach of Ayurveda includes exercise, diet, breathing and meditation.
How do you attain good health? First, by attending to the ether element, that is the mind element. If your mind is bogged with too many impressions and thoughts, it is draining you of your immunity and preparing your body for some illness. If the mind is clear, calm, meditative and pleasant, the body’s resistance will increase and it will not allow an illness to come. The first remedy is calming down the mind – coming from the subtlest aspect of creation, the ether.
Then comes the air element. Breathing, aromatherapy, etc can be used to create a change at this level. And then light or colour therapy. By energising our system with Prana, life energy, and breath, you can prevent the illness before it starts.
That is what yoga does. In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali has said that the purpose of yoga is stopping the sorrow before it arises, to burn the seed before it sprouts. That is one of the most beautiful Sutras.
Next is the water element. Fasting and purifying the system with water, can bring a lot of balance in the system. And the final recourse, of course, are different herbs, medicines and surgery – the earth element. All this comes in the final stage when everything else fails or when you neglect the other steps and the illness becomes inevitable.
Our breath has a lot of secrets to offer us, because for every emotion in the mind, there is a corresponding rhythm in the breath. And each rhythm affects certain parts of the body, physically. You only need to observe it and you can feel it. Observing this correlation between sensations and moods of the mind is meditation, attending to it is meditation.
And then there is proper food habits. Proper food in the sense that you eat only as much as is essential. It should be well-digested so that you don’t feel too heavy, even when you go to bed or when you wake up in the morning or come for meditation. The right amount of food – sweet, fresh and gently spiced.
What I would finally suggest, is to take one week off every year for your self. During that time, align yourself with nature. Wake up with the sunrise, eat proper food – just as much is necessary – do some exercises: yoga and breathing exercises, a few minutes of singing, keeping silence and enjoying the creation. By aligning yourself with nature, your whole system gets recharged and you will feel vibrant and enthusiastic for a long time to come.