Written by John Immel,
Do-It-Yourself MedicineAyurveda is the ideal do-it-yourself healthcare system. Practicing Ayurveda feels like a trip to Home Depot rather than a trip to the spa or beauty parlor.
If It Sounds Complicated, It's Not Ayurvedic!Since Ayurveda was to be passed down through the generations orally, from grandma to child, the founding principle of Ayurveda is that it should be simple, direct, and profound. Ayurveda is a folk tradition that should be communicated in simple terms. If it sounds complicated or requires a textbook, it's not Ayurvedic. Ayurveda wasn't meant for professionals, it was meant for you and me.
Five Sense MedicineAyurveda doesn't require equipment or tests. The only equipment required to practice Ayurveda is the five senses. The mind is the 6th sense in Ayurveda. It 'senses' the sense organs, and interprets their experiences. Ayurveda places great importance on improving the acumen and strength of the five senses. What if your taste was stronger, your eyes keener, your ears more sensitive? You would have a higher perception of reality. Your sense organs are truly your only means of contact with the outside world. Your sense organs are the best tools you have to keep your body healthy, including selecting the right foods, wearing seasonally appropriate clothing, and even interacting with your community. Here are some simple ways you can strengthen your senses:
Ayurveda has developed a simple vocabulary for talking about your experiences. Have you ever felt hot or cold? Ayurvedic practitioners are adept at interpreting your experiences and making sense of them. For example, many practitioners could expound for hours on how a slight, chronic cold condition affects your body and what it means. You can learn a lot about your body just by studying hot and cold. Hot and cold are two of the 20 most important words you can use to learn about your health. Sound simple? It is.
Have you ever experienced an omega-3 fatty acid? Omega-3 fatty acids have been a health buzzword for several years. Could you identify an omega-3 fatty acid blindfolded? If not, you probably learned about it from a textbook, TV commercial, or a friend's testimony. Ayurveda appreciates expert knowledge, but focuses on what you can learn and experience in the world using your five senses.
Making Sense of Health BuzzwordsWhether you are five years old or fifty, Ayurveda should make sense. It seems like every time you turn on the TV there is a new report about the health benefits of this or that food.
For instance, are tomatoes good for you? Everyone has an opinion, but no one agrees with each other. First, the experts say tomatoes are bad for your health. A few years later, they are good for you again. The solution to sorting out the mountains of confusing information is to recognize that our bodies are all different and unique. Tomatoes aren't good or bad, they are simply acidic, difficult to digest, and perhaps, like most members of the nightshade plant family, a bit funky.
How do you feel when you eat a lot of tomatoes? Whether tomatoes are good or bad depends on the person, the weather, the time of day, the preparation, how well the food is chewed, etc.
Experience Over KnowledgeIf you want to develop a good relationship with food you have to eat mindfully, paying attention to your experiences. The difference between knowledge and wisdom is experience. Experience brings you into a personal relationship with knowledge. Ayurveda teaches you how to be a poet of food rather than a librarian. Storing up mountains of knowledge doesn't just sound overwhelming, it irritates your nervous system. Experience helps us determine relevant knowledge. Ayurveda suggests that we learn from feeling, not from textbooks or labs.
Lab knowledge is okay and valuable, but as a person we should focus on waking up, knowing our body, and having a good relationship with food and the world around us. To get a better grip on reality, Ayurveda emphasizes strengthening the five senses. If you don't use your senses, they will atrophy.
From the Horse's MouthA colleague who studied Ayurveda with me brought her horse from Vermont to New Mexico. Within two weeks the horse learned how to survive by eating plants in the desert. How many of us would survive by eating plants in the desert? Don't worry, your tongue is no less sophisticated than a horse's. The problem is that our tongues are sleeping. If you were a horse in the desert at noon and you came upon a chili plant and a tomato plant, which one would you eat? What if you encountered a tomato plant and a cucumber plant? Are tomatoes heating or cooling? The answer is relative. It is much easier to understand the qualities of food by comparison.
Wake Up Your TongueThe best way to wake up your tongue is to eat something wild every day. Start with a dandelion green, lamb's quarters, chickweed, or one of the many wild foods in your area.
READ MORE ON THIS TOPIC
BROWSE SIMILAR ARTICLES BY TOPIC
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
What do customers buy after viewing this article?
Questions, Comments & Impressions of 'develop your five senses'?Is there something you'd like to know about 'develop your five senses'?