Ayurveda essentially requires us to be aware enough to sense feedback and make measured choices to create a harmonious balance in health and life.
Awareness about what really, one may ask? The key idea in Ayurveda’s definition is ‘measures’ – qualitative & quantitative. We are required to keep an eye out for the extent to which different elements impact life. These elements could be behaviour, foods, seasons, practices, medicinal products, social environment. Their impact is judiciously accounted for by an individual, a family, a community, an expert physician, a specialist or established health systems; progressively as complexities increase.
As individuals, our conscious awareness about their impact enables us to respond to feedback from our body, mind and spirit. We can then quickly balance the excesses and incorporate the missing elements, becoming physicians.
Ayurveda is concerned with: What and how much we eat and when, how do we spend our mornings, what do we do more of in winters, when do we drink water, how do we respect natural urges, when do we take supplements and corrective measures for ‘feeling unhealthy’, how do we ward off effects of an occasional late night meal, whether we address our modifiable risk factors, how are our attitudes to medications when needed, whether we realize a dependence on them to correct it or respect it, how we learn from health experts, specialist doctors and our grandmas, whom do we interact with often, how we channel our emotions, how we respond to situations, how much love we channel, how do we gain contentment by ‘giving back’.
Thus it is a way of life and not just a system of medicine. It is a system of healthy living which also includes corrective measures.
Informed choices are made when we know their risks and benefits and we intelligently balance them out to achieve our life goals*. Fortunately there are almost no absolutes on this path, although some choices may be more beneficial or detrimental than the others!
*Ayurveda embraced all four kinds of life goals (Purushartha – the purpose of an individual): of virtue (dharma), wealth (artha), passion (kama), liberation/nirvana (moksha). You could have any pursuit in life and benefit from Ayurveda. It does NOT need you to confirm to a particular religion or have ascetic aspirations.