What is health? What is a disease? Are they just a matter of chance, depending on what bacteria you encounter in your daily life? How to maintain good health and not get sick? The answers to these questions are based on a deep understanding of life and the practical experience of many generations. The accumulated knowledge helps both to prevent the development of the disease, and to cure it if it occurs.
When you know the factors that support health, and those that disrupt the balance in the body and give rise to the disease, you will be able to organize your life so as to restore health and balance.
The definition of health, factors of health and disease
Health is not just the absence of disease, it is the balance of body, mind and consciousness. The disease does not occur suddenly. There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the factors that affect us and the results of their actions. The cause hides the effect, and the effect is the revealed cause. The cause is like a seed in which is hidden a tree that has not yet appeared. The tree is the manifested quality of the seed.
Health is a consequence of a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits, and disease is a “tree” that grows out of unhealthy habits. To come to an understanding of the disease and its causes, it is necessary to study both the patient and his environment. It is important to know where he was born and raised and when he started having health problems. It is also important to know the climate, customs, diseases common in this place, diet, habits, likes and dislikes, strength of the patient, state of mind, etc. This list shows how many different factors constantly affect our health.
How to stay healthy?
The key to maintaining health is awareness. If you know your Constitution and can remain alert to how your body, mind, and emotions respond to changes in the environment and in all aspects of interaction with it, such as nutrition, you will be able to respond appropriately to them to stay in good health.
To maintain health, it is enough to know the causes of the disease, to understand that “like increases like” and “opposites balance each other”, and to correct deviations at their very beginning by constantly being aware of their behavior.
If I live consciously, for example, I can notice that when I ate yogurt two weeks ago, I then had congestion and developed a cold. Then I got better and felt good for a few days. When I come across yogurt again, my body’s mind will remind me, “the last time you ate yogurt, you got sick!» If I listen to my body, I will hear: “I don’t want yogurt!”.
To listen to the wisdom of the body, to the intelligence of the body, is to be aware, and this is one of the most effective methods of preventing diseases. Developing awareness for early recognition of unbalancing factors is the first and necessary step to maintaining health. The second step is to take corrective measures, that is, to perform certain actions.
How to adjust your health?
Factors that tend to upset the balance constantly affect both from within and from outside. The weather changes, our immediate environment changes, thoughts and feelings change, and stressful situations come and go. In response to these changes, we must act appropriately. As stated in the Bhagavad Gita: “The ability to perform correct actions is called yoga.”
You have to be very smart to learn from your past history. For example, when I eat peas, my stomach usually gets upset, so even now I don’t want to eat them. However, if there is nothing else to eat besides peas, I should add ground cumin, GI, and a little mustard seed to it, and then it will be quite edible for me. Wet GI and warming spices will correct the properties of peas.
Adding spices changes the properties of food and can make “forbidden” food, which provokes a violation of balance, quite acceptable. For example, some people are sensitive to potatoes. From potatoes, they form gases and there is a slight ache and pain in the muscles and joints.
However, if you cook potatoes with a small amount of turmeric, mustard seed, ground cumin and coriander, it will soften the exciting quality of the potatoes, and the body will be easier to digest it.
Thus, if you take measures to correct the cause, the reaction of the body will be different, and this factor will not have adverse consequences. This principle applies equally to mental factors.
Let’s say that watching movies with violent scenes throws you off balance, and as a result, you have nightmares. If you notice that images of violence disturb your mental balance, causing anxiety and fear, then the next time you “get a chance” to watch a movie with scenes of violence, you can consciously refuse to do so.
The first step in maintaining health is to develop awareness of the potential causes of illness. The second step is to take measures to correct them. The next step is to restore the balance, if it is still disturbed. The main method used for this purpose is to apply the opposite qualities.
If you are cold, eat some hot soup or drink something warm. If you are agitated or upset (perhaps against your better judgment you have watched a movie with violent scenes), sit down and do some meditation to calm your emotions and mind.
If you have been provoked and are angry, swim in cool water or eat some sweet cooling fruit. This principle looks simple and obvious, but it is not easy to remember it in everyday life. However, it is very powerful and effective. Using it, you will eventually find that you are able to quickly and effortlessly restore mental and physical balance.
Excerpt from the book: Vasant Lad. Home remedies of Ayurveda