Is life short or long? I suppose it all depends on how you look at it. Days can pass quickly. Unhappy times seem to go on and on; while times of great joy pass in a flash. Young people cannot imagine becoming old and believe that “old age” will never happen to them. Older people look back and are amazed that the years passed by so quickly and that they have reached an age defined as “old” or “elderly.”
Recently a friend of mine visited his hometown and saw a group of his high school friends for the first time in a long while. His friends had been athletes in high school, in shape and vigorous. He told me that he was saddened to see how time had taken its toll on so many of his friends. Several of them were extremely overweight. A few suffered from diabetes type 2. There were those who had battled cancer and heart disease and those who looked weak, ill and just plain “old.”
My friend said he left the group feeling grateful for his health and vitality. Should he be grateful or should he be patting himself on the back?
I think he should be doing both of the above.
There is no doubt that a tendency to good health is genetic. At the same time, we know that more illnesses can be prevented and Ayurveda teaches us that it is possible for the vast majority of us to enjoy a healthy and happy old age. Old age will come knocking at your doorstep and, of course, you want to enter this stage of life with a vital physiology.
The human physiology is an aspect of the natural world and if we do not live according to the Laws of Nature we will experience disease and a less than delightful old age. Living life according to the Laws of Nature is more than common sense but once one learns the basic concepts following the directives is easy. In our book Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way Sandra and I explain these concepts in detail. Whether you wish to avoid depression or strive to have a healthy old age the answers are the same: keep doshic balance and clear the physiology of toxins (ama).
The three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) operate in the macrocosm of the universe as well as in the microcosm of the human being. Every aspect of the natural world, including the human being, is a pattern of intelligence, and it is the doshas that govern the workings of this pattern of intelligence. Knowing how the doshas influence your individual mind and body is the key to functioning in harmony with nature. The necessary tools are awareness and intentionality. Awareness of how the doshas function allows us to become intentional about our daily choices and habits in order to keep our physiology in a state of balance. Had my friend’s buddies had this awareness I believe they, for the most part, would be enjoying vitality, not illness, in their old age. Read about the doshas in Chapter 3 of Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way.
Ama is the Ayurvedic word for toxic accumulation. Whereas Western medicine focuses primarily on putting substances into the body (such as medicines) Ayurveda has always considered purification of the physiology – getting things out – to be equally important for health maintenance.
According to Ayurveda, “gunk “is what causes disease because it blocks the free flow of our innate intelligence at different levels of our being. This gunk, or ama, is the product of inefficient metabolism. There are three types of ama: physical, mental, and emotional. Physical ama obstructs our biological processes and is formed when the food we eat is not digested properly. Emotional ama is a residue carried from one experience to another, obstructing the full enjoyment of the here and now. Mental ama blocks access to our inner knowledge, our intuition. Ama cements depression and illness. A physiology filled to the brim with ama will not be a physiology capable of an active and healthy old age. Read about how to prevent the accumulation of toxins in the mind-body in Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way.
Once disease invades the mind-body it becomes very difficult to return to vitality and good health. Old age will sneak up on each of us one day at a time but this stage of life doesn’t have to be a time of misery. Ayurveda gives us all the information we need to enter old age with vitality and happiness. We just need to apply the information in our own lives. We encourage you to begin to learn about the doshas and ama today and to prepare for a vital future and a totally enjoyable old age!
Thanks for reading and have a great week,