Coming back into balance can mean a number of things for different people, but in general it means that we are healthy, which we all typically define as: a state of well-being free from disease. But this is just one part of health’s full picture. Ayurveda describes the state of good health as svastha, meaning “established in the Soul.” In other words, Ayurveda is not just interested in you getting the “perfect body,” killer washboard abs, or seeing a certain number when you step on the scale. Its biggest concern is you becoming who the heck you really are.
When we are in svastha, we rest in the unchanging center of who we are, which makes us feel good because we feel at home and at ease in our bodies. Western medicine, while excellent at many things, tends to treat isolated conditions that have already manifested as disease. Ayurveda, on the other hand, focuses on prevention and treating the whole person. Ayurveda embraces the fact that you are unique, with your own idiosyncratic life experiences that have created the unrepeatable woman you are today. A skilled Ayurvedic practitioner would want the low-down on everything that makes you, well, you.
When I first began to incorporate Ayurveda into my daily life, I was astounded by the strong emphasis self-healing played in the journey toward wellness—and how much self-healing is rooted in knowing oneself. Ayurveda wants us to develop a very close relationship to our own body, our skin, our tongue, our belly, our emotions, as well as the struggles we go through in life, work, sex, and relationships. We are asked to look at these elements of our life as a path toward healing because Ayurveda honors the direct and intertwined relationship between the body’s physical health—this flesh and bone thing that we can see and feel—and the mental/emotional body.
Ayurveda asks us to dip into that mental/emotional body by looking at the changing “little-me” or egoic self (asmita), and identifying with it less. Oh, you know the little me. She is the one that endlessly worries and doubts. She wonders if she will ever have enough money, enough time, enough validation, enough fame, enough good sex, enough pairs of shoes. She can’t channel her anger and fear into clarity and understanding. She is afraid of stopping long enough to bear witness to her own feelings. She feels guilty for going for her dreams. She envies the good fortune of others. She feels unwanted and unworthy. She is ashamed to ask for what she really wants. She is afraid of being lonely. She ponders, perhaps if only in the silent corners of her heart, whether there really is enough love to go around. She grabs for more when less would do. She operates on a belief in scarcity and negativity, even when abundance is staring her in the face.
Ayurveda says that unless we move beyond that limited self, we will never taste the golden nectar of real health. You see, Ayurveda views total health as a real and intimate connection to the Big or Higher Self inside us. This Big Self speaks when the little me gets really quiet. You can hear her as the voice of your intuition telling you to ditch that energy-vampire friend. You can feel her stir when you agree to go out with friends, when you really should be resting from last week’s flu. She speaks using the language of body sensations, bliss, knowingness, unbounded willpower, and straight-up love.
You may have even been rescued by your Big Self. Remember the last time you felt like you had really hit rock bottom? Then suddenly, as if out of nowhere, there was a voice somewhere saying, “Get up, honey. You’ve got work to do!” That was your Big Self—the part of you that actually is the Big Mama, All-Knowing, Ass-Kicking, Fear-Busting, Doubt-Dousing, Wise and Spicy, Reverently Orgasmic Cosmic Grandma herself.
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