Ayurveda 101: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Wellness

If you want to achieve vibrant health and lasting wellness in the new age, you’ve got to be willing to get a little bit old school. And not just to the 20th century. I’m talking about reflecting back at least 5,000 years ago to India… to the birth of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is one of the oldest systems of health and healing on record and is just as relevant today as it was dozens of centuries ago. Arguably more so, as our inner and outer worlds have become more hectic and demanding than ever.

Sound familiar?

In this mini-series, we’ll explore the timeless teachings of Ayurveda and discover just how to harness this ancient wisdom for modern well-being. You’ll understand the building blocks of the universe, learn your unique mind/body personality type, develop a renewed appreciation for your gifts and talents, and discover how to use your five senses as the gateways to healing.

Ayurveda is holistic. Intuitive. Comprehensive.

It’s a one-stop shop for total wellbeing of body, mind, and spirit. Yet it is completely personalized to You, as there is absolutely no one size that fits all.

Nor would we want there to be! This practice is all about celebrating our differences and the unique contributions that we each bring into the world.

Quite frankly, Ayurveda is one of the most remarkable tools on the planet and once you dip a toe in, you’ll be fancy-diving into the deep end in no time.

What’s in a name?

The secret sauce of Ayurveda is woven right into its name, which is a Sanskrit term. Sanskrit is an ancient language, much like Latin or Greek, and you’ll learn quite a lot of it throughout this series. We preserve the original Sanskrit in these teachings so that nothing is lost in translation. And a lot can be!

For example, let’s peek at the word Namaste.

These seven little letters carry a vibration of sacred truth that can hardly be encapsulated in even the most refined English definition. The best translation I’ve found:

The light in me honors and salutes the light in you, which is the divine truth of Who We Really Are. When I am reflecting in that space and you are reflecting in that space, we are One.

Or something like that.

Bottom line is—Sanskrit words in their authentic form contain deep soulful truths that can be felt and known when the body is balanced, the mind is still, and the spirit is open. And while there is no exact translation, for the sake of modernizing and intellectualizing this wisdom, we try to come close.

Dissecting the two root words of Ayurveda brings us a bit closer to its powerful essence. Ayus means life or essential existence. Veda means science, knowledge, or wisdom.

So literally, Ayurveda can be translated to The Science of Life.

It is a framework that will turn you into the Alchemist of your own domain—learning to use the world around you as medicine…to transform dis-ease, imbalance, and dissonance into health, balance and harmony. In Sanskrit, we call this transmuting Ama (a sludgy, toxic build-up) into Ojas (the sweet, essential nectar of life).

Liken it to turning lead into gold. And who couldn’t use a little more shine in their life?

What sets Ayurveda apart?

Ayurveda is unique to other healing sciences in that it is a consciousness-based approach structured around the laws of nature.

Nature, natural world, universe…I’ll use these terms interchangeably to refer to this physical experience of “stuff” we can feel, measure, respond to, and interact with through our senses.

Through Ayurvedic principles and practice, we harness the wisdom, rhythms and exchanges (the consciousness) of nature to affect our own wellbeing. It teaches that as human beings, we are a complete reflection of the entire universe. As is the macrocosm, so is the microcosm.

Or, to preserve this sentiment in Sanskrit, Yatha Pinde thatha Brahmande.

We cannot be separated from the natural world and this works to our total advantage. Since nature is conscious, and we are one in the same, we too can become ever more conscious in our pursuit of vibrant health.

So what does “consciousness-based” actually mean?

If you think about it, there are only two mantras in life—Yum and Yuck. Something happens (or doesn’t happen, as the case may be) and produces either a favorable response or an unfavorable one.

We feel great and want an abundance of that Yum experience.

Or we feel terrible and want to minimize or altogether eliminate whatever made us go Yuck.

The natural world operates in this persistent state of cause and effect relationship. It is a living, breathing, dynamic experience…constantly in flux. So are we, as microcosmic reflections.

The difference is that the universe is hyper-aware of this process and takes total ownership of it. It is in constant, non-judgmental observation of the something-that-happened (Cause), aware of how it feels and responds as a result (Effect), and adjusts the input accordingly (happythankyoumoreplease or nahhh, I think I’ll pass).

The invitation is for us to become more curious, aware and empowered as well. To become the conscious choice-makers and creators of our daily experience. To adjust the input accordingly.

Simply put, you are at the controls.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to learn what combinations of people, places, jobs, colors, temperatures, foods, routines, music, and movement produce a Yum response for your unique mind/body constitution. And then go for more of that. Unapologetically.

You’ve also got to leave behind the Yuck stuff for someone else who might appreciate it.

And when there’s a whole heck of a lot of Yuck built up and you need help letting it go, you’ve got to make the decision to call upon the balancing, harmonizing tools of Ayurveda. And there are many.

All it takes is awareness, honesty, and action. And Boom! You’re consciousness-based.

Are you willing to pay attention and take charge?

All this info might seem like a lengthier “laying of the foundation” than you were expecting. Um hello, where are the TOOLS already?! I know, and I’m sorry (#notsorry). There’s a method to my madness.

It’s really important—like REALLY—that you not only understand the magic of Ayurveda, but grasp the unwavering truth that YOU are the magician.

I can relay tips until I’m a perfect shade of blue in the face but until you OWN the fact that you have the ability to shift your reality, they will do no good. You’ve got to make the decision to pay attention and take charge. You’ve got to know that you have that power.

In Sanskrit, we call this badassery Aham Brahmasmi—I am the Universe.

It happens to be my favorite mantra. Outside of Yum and Yuck, of course.

So, you empowered Alchemist, you…if you want a little homework this week, look at your beautiful face in the mirror every day and repeat the mantra Aham Brahmasmi to yourself seven times. See yourself for the conscious creator that you are and start to align with that energy.