Life is sustained as long as the body, senses, mind and self are linked with each other.
This link cannot be maintained without effort. The linking of these four factors must be sustained.
Body has been referred to in Sanskrit as ‘Deha’. The word Deha is derived from the root ‘Dih Upacaye‘ which means ‘that which continuously reconstructs itself’.
Majority of the functions of life happen in autopilot mode as it were. Life is self created, self organised and self maintaining. Yet, what we do consciously has a profound influence on this underlying automated mechanism of life. When our voluntary actions are wholesome, the body is able to repair and maintain itself efficiently.
In the Bhagavad Gītā, it is mentioned – Rajo rāgātmakaṃ viddhi. Rāga means to colour ; it also means attachment. Rajas colours the mind, clouds awareness and creates attachment.
When we do not understand the proper significance of the sense objects in the world, we get attached to them or develop aversion. The result is that our interactions with the world become unwholesome because the mind and intelligence are hijacked by emotions and awareness is distorted. This is the seed of all emotional turbulence and stress, the basis for disease and sorrow.
According to modern scientific understanding, stress leads to an increase in stress hormones mainly cortisol which leads to an increase in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Hence the introductory verse in Ayurvedic classics is a warning – Attachment to objects can lead to serious illness and death. Its very much like the warning issued when selling products containing alcohol and tobacco.
To obtain that by gaining which everything else is gained, one has to focus on the essence. To focus on the essence, one must have unclouded awareness. When awareness is clouded by emotional turbulence, then the focus moves away from the essence.
By a radical change in mental attitude and behaviour (Ācāra), all that makes life complete and fulfilled becomes within our reach. Ācāra means action with awareness in all circumstances. Only a mind focused on the essence can act with awareness.
Virāgata or Vairāgya (living with awareness and without attachment) is the only way to live in the world without being affected. Without losing awareness and initiating the cascade of stressful emotions.
This implies keeping the parasympathetic nervous system engaged at all times except in case of a dire emergency. This nervous system then leads to enhancement of growth, immunity, digestion and reproductive systems. On the other hand ‘Raga’ or attachment forces us to engage and live a life dominated by Sympathetic nervous system. This system keeps us on the hook, always ready to face an emergency. High blood Cortisol along with high sugar and cholesterol are the armor that the body adorns to tide over this emergency. These are the root causes of most modern day health concern.
The knowledge of Āyurveda reflects the laws of nature. Teaching and learning Āyurveda means to put it into practice. Making changes even little by little can help in the long run. When we become aware of the laws of nature, we become powerful.