Relationships As Health: Ayurveda’s Healing Power with Insiya Rasiwala-Finn

by Insiya Rasiwala-Finn

“No one is an island.” I paraphrase the poet John Donne here, which is a thought that always comes to mind whenever I think about Ayurveda, the ancient wisdom tradition from my homeland of India. It is only when we allow for and witness the relationship between all aspects of life, that we can begin to understand the healing power of Ayurveda. But what does that mean? What is the interplay of this ancient wisdom tradition and our modern relationships?

Defining Relationship

At a time where the fabric of how we live is changing so rapidly, in which we struggle with isolation and a culture of extremes, it can be helpful to dive deeper into traditions which have withstood the test of time. These ancient maps to living well offer us potent insights into how we may be able to bring more connection and peace into our present day lives. Peace, after all, begins with our relationship to ourself first, and then expands into how we connect with all beings and the environment around us.

To understand why, let’s discuss a foundational principle of Ayurveda: that we are made up of the very same building blocks that exist in the entire universe. Sometimes it’s called the principle of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm.

What are these building blocks of all life? The seers of the past called them the Five Great Elements. Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. 

Consider the earth in the universe and the earth in your own body. The bones and the muscles, the dense parts of ourself, are created from calcium and phosphorus and magnesium — all minerals that exist in the rocks we see strewn around Sedona. There is water outside and within. The rivers, lakes and oceans of our planet, the water contained in plants; it is what gives our cellular structure pliability and movement and flow. It is in our blood and our lymph. The third element is Fire. The external fire, which is the universal fire, is the sun, what cultures across millennia have worshipped for its life giving form; as well as borne witness to its destructive power. Within us, we have the fire of digestion that helps us to transform not just food but also all thoughts, sensory information and sensation that we take in. This internal fire is called our agni. 

This is again one of the main pillars of Ayurveda, which tells us right off the bat that we are not just what we eat; we are more importantly, what we digest.  Our inner fire is the fire of our passion, our ambition and our zest for life, it is also the fire that transforms what we take in to live our lives every day. Keeping this agni balanced and healthy is what will allow us to thrive and live a life of purpose and vitality.

The last two elements are Air and Space. Air is the life-giving air we breathe in and out — it connects us to our larger environment and gives us life. Without air where would we be? If you did think you were an island, this is a good time to put that thought at rest!

And finally, we have Space or Ether, the most subtle aspect of the cosmos. In yogic thought, Ether is the spaciousness from which the Aum sound of creation arises from and dissolves back into. Within us, Ether is the space between each inhale and exhale; the pause between thoughts. It is the aspect of ourselves that is most connected to a higher self, to infinity.

Understanding Balance

Ayurveda tells us that when we are in balance it is because the elements within us are flowing in and out of us in a balanced way. Balance means that we are taking in the right amount of of food, sleep, and sensory information, which includes touch, connection, and what we see with our eyes, hear with our ears and what we eat. Balance means that we are transforming these inputs into the right resources for our mind body spirit continuum to thrive. Additionally, balance means that we are eliminating what we don’t need. When one of these processes is skewed, we begin to feel uneasy and out of balance, and we move from health towards disease.

How do we minimize the possibility of disease according to Ayurveda? We can begin by taking simple daily steps that create habits of flow, sustenance and ease. By aligning with universal principles of the elements, we can experience wellbeing and vitality and bounce back from challenges with resilience and happiness.

Here are 3 simple tips you can incorporate into your life today, based on Ayurvedic wisdom.

  1. Minimize technology. Turn off all devices at least one hour (ideally two) before you sleep so that your body is not processing all the high speed sensory information before bedtime, but is instead able to turn its attention to helping your nervous system calm down and rest.
  2. Eat seasonally.  Local, seasonal foods are what offer us the best benefits against seasonal shifts. And you will notice that when you eat in this way, you begin to crave exactly what you need in that particular season. For example as we move towards spring, you may want to eat less denser foods, e.g. reduce the amount of dairy you might eat or the sweet taste, and instead explore more fresh, vibrant bitter greens that are sprouting up with life to support the natural cleansing of spring.
  3. Commit to doing at least one thing slowly and with intention every day. It could be watering your plants, reading a poem, making time to journal, a yoga or meditation practice. Life is moving very fast these days; and we must balance out the speeding whorl of endless to do lists with pauses that remind us that we are connected to something higher.

Learn more and dive in deeper into Ayurveda with Insiya at the festival! Passes are still available. Use code INSIYA10 for 10% off any Pass — Day Passes and 2-Day Passes also available!



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