When I was growing up in India, I witnessed a spiritual master, my grandfather, whom I addressed as Baba, remind the diseased and the suffering of their abidingly healthy nature. He taught them simple ways to align with Nature on a daily basis, and enigmatically, this ignited powerful healing of body, mind, and soul. While there wasn’t a focus on the symptoms of disease perse, I saw cancers disappear, ulcers heal, and chronic depression lift.
I think I had rationalized that these “miracles” were possible because my teacher was a spiritually realized being. Clearly, my guru’s spiritual presence was undeniable. But as I grew up and observed more, I recognized that Baba’s skills in transmitting a highly rational science of Ayurveda lifestyle was also a key factor.
Ayurveda proposes two methodologies toward approaching health. The first is preventive and promotive. It proposes protecting and enhancing health with a set of lifestyle practices. This is the “wisdom” approach of evoking inner health, known as swasthya-raksha in Sanskrit. It incorporates at every step lessons from the spiritual sister sciences of yoga and Vedanta.
The second methodology is “restorative.” It includes disease management using herbal drugs, body treatments, and even surgery (though surgery is no longer an active modality in Ayurveda today). This methodology is known as vikara prashamana in Sanskrit. Both approaches are equally valid, at appropriate junctures.
If disease management via drugs is taken up without a parallel investment in a healthy lifestyle, the body becomes a battle-ground all too quickly. There is a wellspring of power within us, a spiritual truth, that we must honor; and we never give away our power to any disease, just because we have a scary-sounding condition with a grim prognosis. In fact, it is now more than ever that we must activate our latent health response through a scientific life-style that is in sync with Nature’s laws. If you are consuming Eastern or Western drugs, a healthy Ayurveda-inspired lifestyle in conjunction will expedite recovery and additionally facilitate well-being.
When we examine Ayurveda’s source literature, spanning from the Vedas (4500 BCE) all the way to the sixteenth century, it was lifestyle wisdom that occupied the central stage. Disease management gained increasing priority in the later texts. In fact, this is how the sages who gave us the ancient Vedas and original spiritual sciences of Ayurveda, yoga, Vedanta, meditation, sacred art, architecture, music, and dance lived! They boldly cultivated radiant health day by day as an expression of their god consciousness.
I am one of the fortunate teachers born into a family of teachers with an uninterrupted educational lineage, a family that has lived as well as transmitted this ancient wisdom for untold years in the plains of northern India. I have not only mastered the knowledge academically, I have also lived it.
Vedic education was imparted to the student for a minimum of twelve years. I studied for fourteen, along with regular schooling, and graduated as an acharya, which means “a master spiritual teacher of lived Vedic knowledge who teaches not only by word, but through role modeling by behavior.” When I was growing up in India, living and learning this knowledge in the family of my teacher, I had no idea that one day I would be writing this book for a world audience. And yet, this is what has happened. This is less a testimony of my life journey and more of a shout-out for Ayurveda. What is the truth cannot be kept under wraps for long. More and more people are seeking Ayurveda’s lifestyle and benefiting from its transformative wisdom.
I hope this wisdom will change your life for the better too, as it did mine. But first, you have to believe that anything is possible.
Excerpted from Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom, by Acharya Shunya. Sounds True, February 2017. Reprinted with permission. For more information, visit www.acharyashunya.com
AYURVEDIC FACE PACKS
Chickpea face pack for dull skin
This is one of the most effective and efficient face packs for dull skin. Its exfoliating action takes away the dead cells, and it is a famous Ayurvedic remedy for blemishes too. Regular usage will result in soft, smooth, and glowing skin, and slowly, blemishes will start fading too. There is no other face pack that takes sun tan away like this one does. It clears the skin and gives it an added glow.
1 tablespoon chickpea flour (besan)
Few drops fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of turmeric powder
1–2 tablespoons rose water (for aged skin) or milk (for dry skin) or yogurt (for acne or oily skin), or enough to make a paste
1. Mix all ingredients to make a paste.
2. Apply the mask to cleansed face and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
Saffron skin glow-enhancing ubtan
Saffron is the best antiblemish and complexion-enhancing agent. Oats are highly absorptive and soften the skin. Red lentil has excellent skin-cleansing properties. It can be used on the face as well as all over the body. Milk has a nourishing quality. All of these wonderful ingredients, when mixed and applied on the face, clean it as well as soften it and add a glowing quality.
½ cup red lentil flour (masoor)
¼ cup ground oats
¼ teaspoon saffron strands
1 tablespoon cool milk, or enough to make a paste
1. Mix all ingredients into a paste.
2. Apply a thin layer on face and body. Wash off with cool water after ten minutes.
This recipe is for good for all skin types including extremely sensitive skin.
1 teaspoon rock candy, ground into a fine powder
1 teaspoon whole milk
1 teaspoon rose water
½ teaspoon honey (for oily/hot skin) or ghee (for dry skin)
1. Mix all ingredients to make a paste.
2. Use both hands to exfoliate the face by rubbing the mixture gently on the skin.
3. Rinse with warm water after a few minutes. Moisturize if desired with a light moisturizer.
MUNG BEAN PANCAKES
Mung is mentioned as the best among beans in Ayurveda texts. This is my everyday breakfast. I make the batter ahead of time and make fresh pancakes for the entire family. This recipe is satiating but very light and works for everyone. Whether you are trying to lose weight or gain, mung supports a healthy metabolism.
1 cup yellow mung beans (soaked 3 hours or overnight)
½ teaspoon ground, roasted cumin
½ teaspoon rock salt
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon grated fresh ginger ⅛ teaspoon asafetida
2 tablespoons ghee
1. Drain soaking liquid from mung beans and place in a blender. Blend on high speed for about 1 minute, adding a small amount of water (about 2 tablespoons) until smooth.
2. Add cumin, salt, turmeric, ginger, and asafoetida and blend again briefly. Thin the mixture with enough water so that batter is a medium-thin consistency similar to wheat-flour pancake batter.
3. Heat a small amount of ghee (½–1 teaspoon) in a skillet or griddle on medium heat.
4. Drop a small ladle full of batter (¼ cup) onto griddle and spread in a circle. Cook on first side until edges start to brown and lift, about 5 minutes.
5. Flip pancake with spatula and cook on second side until golden brown, about 3–5 minutes.
6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 with the rest of the batter and ghee.