. In the modern age, it is evident that most diseases, even the ones that are physical in nature, have a root in the mind. It has been proved through clinical studies that the mind plays an important role in both manifestation and treatment of diseases. Some experts even go on to say that all diseases originate in the mind or sub-conscious mind and the body is just a manifesting area for them.
According to Ayurveda, the mind has three different characteristics, known as the Gunas, namely Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. A mind dominant in Sattva is peaceful, relaxed and strong. In this state, the intelligence is active and one can discriminate between what is good and what is bad. Rajas is responsible for an active mind, but when Sattva is low and Rajas is dominant, the mind is negatively active and will come up with do things that can harm the body. Tamas indicates an inert or dull state of mind and, when dominant, it generates confusion.
Modern foods and lifestyles generally enhance Rajas and Tamas, making the mind overly active and confused. In this state, our intelligence does not work properly. As a result, we eat foods and do things that cause imbalance in the normal functioning of our body and mind. For example, you might have often seen people jogging with their walkmans on, exercising while watching TV or in loud music (in gyms), or wearing torn and dirty jeans, etc. These are just some cases of confused actions which are caused due to high Rajas and Tamas in the mind.
Low Sattva and high Rajas and Tamas are responsible for causing various mental and physical disorders. According to Ayurveda, one of prime causes of disease is ‘not using the intelligence’ (Pragyaparadha). Human beings are the most intelligent race on the planet. But do we really always use our intelligence? Maybe not, especially when it concerns our own body and health. We use our intelligence to solve the most difficult problems in our outer world, such as our jobs, finances, family, etc., but when it comes to our own body, we don’t use it. Let me give you some examples to prove my point.
In India, I often meet patients who come and complain to me that they are suffering from hair loss, acne, pimples, heartburn, hyperacidity, burning sensation in the urine, burning or itching on the skin, hot and sweaty palms and feet, etc. When I ask them, Do you eat chilies or drink black tea (chai), the answer is a big Yes. Any intelligent person, who has heat and burning in the body, will not make this mistake because there is already excess heat/fire in the body and chilies and black tea (chai) are heating in nature. There are also people who proudly tell me that they eat junk food almost daily. The word ‘junk’ means garbage; so actually, they are saying they ‘EAT GARBAGE’ daily. Why would someone with intelligence eat garbage?
So, why don’t we use our intelligence to make the right choices for our mental and physical health? When Sattva is low, our intelligence does not function and we do things that are self-destructive or that cause imbalance in our systems. Then, whats the solution? Its simple – increase Sattva in your body. When Sattva is dominant in the mind, our intelligence functions properly and everything is in order.
The best means of increasing Sattva is by taking things that are pure, clean and fresh. In Ayurveda, we apply the rule like increases and opposite decreases, which means foods, things and activities which have similar qualities as that of Sattva will increase it and those with opposite qualities will decrease it. Fresh, natural, organic, and vegetarian foods increase Sattva, so try to include them in your diet. Canned foods, old-kept foods items (leftovers), processed foods, foods containing chemicals/preservatives, deep fried and heavily spiced foods, junk foods and meat, etc., should be avoided as they increase Rajas and Tamas. In addition, stimulants like caffeine (coffee, black tea), alcohol, smoking, fizzy drinks and drugs should also be avoided.
In Ayurveda, food (aahar) is defined as anything that goes into the body. So, food is not only limited to what goes into our mouth, but also includes things that go in through our eyes, nose, ears or thoughts. So, be careful of the kind of music you hear, television shows you watch, and thoughts that you bring into your mind. Choose music that is soothing (classical, spiritual), watch programs that relax you (history, culture, humor, etc.), use soothing aromas and think positive. These will help in increasing Sattva.
Lastly, take good care of yourself. Protect your body and mind from outer disturbances, and enjoy life. Do not forget that we are all ‘souls’ – temporary residents of this body. One day, all of us have to leave our bodies. So, what’s the fight about, whats the stress about, whats the competition about? We are all in ‘transit’ waiting for our flights. Let us enjoy this wonderful opportunity (called life) to do something good and positive. Let us live with love, help each other, and do something constructive. Start from today – Sattvic food (aahar), Sattvic lifestyle (vihar), and Sattvic thoughts (vichar), and you will be able to feel the difference in yourself in just one month.