Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion School
Imagine you are suddenly faced with an anxiety provoking situation. Maybe you witnessed a road collision, or heard a loved one was rushed to hospital. When your mind becomes frantic, there are immediate effects in your body. You may feel tension in your muscles, a pit in your stomach or your heart may start to pound as stress hormones are released.
The mind-body connection is a two way system that also works in reverse. If there is an imbalance of the physical body, this will impact your state of mind and emotional stability. Using anxiety as an example again, an accumulation of toxins in the colon due to improper diet will irritate the nervous system. This toxic accumulation and irritation of the nervous tissue can progress to constant feelings of low level anxiety in the mind.
The mind (manas) processes all of this stimulation and tries to organize and make sense of all the sensory input. Nerves (majja) allow you to experience life through sensations and the mind (manas) makes sense of these experiences. The mind refers to how you think, react, and respond to sensations reported by the nervous system.
Wherever nerves are present, thinking is also present - so in Ayurveda there are both nerves (majja) and thinking (manas) throughout the body. One could say that the mind is infused in the whole body, not just in the brain. The idea that we have feelings and awareness in various parts of our body is reflected in common sayings such as "gut feelings" or a "broken heart". We feel our emotions in many places of the body. This mind-body connection is a fascinating subject of study.
Majja is purely physical, made up of neurons and nerves, but manas is physical and spiritual. Beliefs that you hold about experiences, like what you think about your mom, are attributed to your spirit because beliefs represent free will choices. Only the spirit is free, in the sense that it can act independently of the flesh. Nevertheless, everything that happens to us affects our spirit as we make decisions and draw conclusions from our experiences. In Ayurveda, whenever something happens, it affects your body, your mental state, and your beliefs about the world.
The gunas are an integral framework that Ayurveda provides to understand the mind. They are incredibly useful for assessing someone's current mental state, and offers a workable system to bring these gunas into balance.
Imbalances of the gunas in the body affect the mind because of majja. Nervous tissue is very sensitive to changes in the blood chemistry (rasa), including any toxins in the blood, and these in turn affect the mind. Digestive toxins (ama) in the bloodstream can irritate nerve tissue, making your nerves feel frayed. Often, these toxins come from the digestive system, so taking care of digestive health is a key factor in supporting mental health. Toxins may come from other sources as well.
Ayurveda addresses mental health issues by balancing the gunas in a step by step approach. First, Ayurveda balances digestion and elimination to reduce the amount of accumulating toxins. Then, it uses diet, lifestyle & herbs to correct blood chemistry and balance the gunas in the blood. Along the way, Ayurveda nourishes the nervous system with healthy fats and appropriate herbs.
Ayurveda also recommends that you protect your sense organs from gratuitous exposure to disturbing images and thoughts - such as one might encounter in a horror movie.
Some forms of meditation advocate complete disembodiment, and these are ultimately unsuitable for physical health and well being. Since meditation affects the person on a spiritual level, great care must be taken to choose a form of meditation that will be truly supportive for the years to come.
While these causes may not have an immediate impact on your mind, they slowly accumulate and twist the reality in the mind. The mind is supposed to contain an accurate map of reality. However, each person's mind frequently misinterprets reality as well. Incorrect beliefs slowly warp this map of reality over such a long period of time that the individual often has difficulty identifying the true cause. The mistakes of the mind should not cause despair, or indecision, but instead should inspire renewed commitment to understanding and good use of reason.
Find Ayurvedic health tips In these main areas:Sleep Patterns
Pharmacological Actions Affecting Mind Stress Sleep
ANTIDEPRESSANTHerbs that lift feelings of depression, benefit the mind and improve mental function.
|Herbs that lift feelings of depression, benefit the mind and improve mental function.|
ANXIOLYTICHerbs that help people suffering from anxiety or panic. They promote a state of calm and often improve sleep. Most anxiolytic herbs are also nervines.
|Herbs that help people suffering from anxiety or panic. They promote a state of calm and often improve sleep. Most anxiolytic herbs are also nervines.|
BRAIN-TONICAn herb that strengthens the brain, thereby improves either mental function, stamina, or stability.
|An herb that strengthens the brain, thereby improves either mental function, stamina, or stability.|
GROUNDINGEncourages feelings of stability and heaviness. Makes you feel settled, mentally relaxed. Mildly sedates the nervous system to ease stress. Can bring a spacey or anxious person back to earth.
|Encourages feelings of stability and heaviness. Makes you feel settled, mentally relaxed. Mildly sedates the nervous system to ease stress. Can bring a spacey or anxious person back to earth.|
Makes you tired
MAKES-YOU-TIREDInduces drowsiness and promotes sound sleep.
|Induces drowsiness and promotes sound sleep.|
NERVINEHerbs that specifically go to the nervous system and brain. They can help with stress, memory, early alzheimer?s, even chronic pain.
|Herbs that specifically go to the nervous system and brain. They can help with stress, memory, early alzheimer?s, even chronic pain.|
NUMBSInhibits sensation in a particular area.
|Inhibits sensation in a particular area.|
RELAXES-EYESEases tension in eye muscles, so the eyes feel less strained, often by supporting the liver.
|Eases tension in eye muscles, so the eyes feel less strained, often by supporting the liver.|
RELAXES-MINDReduces mental agitation, irritation, stress and racing thoughts.
|Reduces mental agitation, irritation, stress and racing thoughts.|
Relaxes solar plexus
RELAXES-SOLAR-PLEXUSSoothes and comforts the muscles of the upper abdomen, reducing any tension or pressure in the solar plexus area.
|Soothes and comforts the muscles of the upper abdomen, reducing any tension or pressure in the solar plexus area.|
RELIEVES-TENSIONAn herb that releases tightness, constriction, and rigidity in a muscle.
|An herb that releases tightness, constriction, and rigidity in a muscle.|
SEDATIVESedative herbs create a sense of calm in the mind and body by specifically calming or quieting the nervous system. Excellent for anxiety, stress and chronic pain.
|Sedative herbs create a sense of calm in the mind and body by specifically calming or quieting the nervous system. Excellent for anxiety, stress and chronic pain.|
Stimulates front of brain
STIMULATES-FRONT-OF-BRAINCreates a feeling of awareness or tension in the area in the forehead. Activates the frontal lobe - the area responsible for motor function, emotional expression, thinking, and decision making.
|Creates a feeling of awareness or tension in the area in the forehead. Activates the frontal lobe - the area responsible for motor function, emotional expression, thinking, and decision making.|
Wakes you up
WAKES-YOU-UPInvigorates the body and improves energy by stimulating circulation.
|Invigorates the body and improves energy by stimulating circulation.|