Ayurveda literally indicates the science of life. Ayurveda happens to be an ancient medical science which is believed to have been started thousands of years before. Ayurveda confers the prerequisite knowledge of preventing the diseases and eliminating their root causes. Apart from being a physical system of medicine, it is also recognized as a psychological system. The scope of this system of medicine is not limited to curing physical diseases alone. This form of medicine is also beneficial in curing mental diseases. Hence, it is imperative to understand the view of consciousness and mind according to Ayurveda.
Investigating the psychological and mental diseases in Ayurvedic system of medicine happens to be complex as it involves diagnosing the physical as well as mental diseases. It demands application, attention, and expertise like any other form of medicines and other remedies. It is not mandatory that one should be highly trained in psychology for dealing with the psychological aspects of Ayurveda like a medical therapist for dealing with physical aspects. However, one should have to have knowledge about the mind and its functions.
There are a number, of course, materials and books which can confer assistance to know about the psychological aspects of Ayurveda. Below is an overview of Ayurveda and an attempt to encourage students for going deep into the subject.
In accordance with Ayurveda, three main causes are responsible for the diseases which are listed below:
- In accordance with the Ayurvedic system of medicine, the human body is comprised of five elements which are inclusive of fire, air, water, space and earth. An imbalance in these elements is responsible for diseases. As per the Ayurvedic form of medicine, there are three kinds of dosha which are inclusive of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. In Vata dosha, space and air elements dominate whereas, in Pitta, the fire element dominates. In Kapha dosha, the water, as well as earth elements, predominates.
- Excessive tamas and rajas in mind.
- Results of past deeds or karmic factors.
The above-mentioned factors are co-related to certain extension although one is dominant usually. Excessive tamas or rajas are responsible for an imbalance in dosha which results in a deep karmic clash. Thus, the ayurvedic form of medicine is designed for countering the same.
- Ayurvedic system of medicine includes the rational therapies for countering the doshas which are inclusive of applying the right herbs, foods and clinical remedies for putting an end to these doshas.
- Spiritual techniques for reducing bad karma and enhancing good ones. The methods involve using mantras, rituals, and deities.
- Sattvic and yoga therapy for the reduction of tamas and rajas. The therapies are comprehensive of using meditation, mantra, pranayama and asana.
These treatment procedures are aspects and crossover of each other. The mind which is considered to be an essential factor and responsible for psychological issues are present on different levels.
The doshas accumulate in the body and mind as toxins. Thus, they become responsible for several negative components. For instance, Vata is responsible for fear. Pitta, on the other hand, may lead to anger. Kapha is responsible for attachments.
The mind is composed of primarily of ether and air elements. Hence, it is recognized to be an integral part of Vata sphere. Hence, Vata dosha has stronger psychological consequences than other predominant doshas. Vata problems are inclusive of psychological issues such as anxiety, insecurity, fear. Hence, it involves a lot of psychology for managing the Vata doshas.
Any kind of pain leads to an imbalance in Vata. Thus, management of pain will include a stronger part of anti-vata methods. Stress is yet another cause which is responsible for an imbalance in Vata. Hence, relief from stress is considered to be an integral anti-vata procedure.
Kapha and Pitta doshas are also known to have their own psychological considerations and components. Every patient has a particular physical and psychological energetic which one should understand before going for an effective treatment plan for reducing Pitta and Kapha doshas.
The three gunas happen to be psychological factors along with tamas as insensitivity, addictions, deeper emotional blockage and rajas as ego-driven impulses. Owing to these, it becomes hard to deal with these doshas as they will be creating attitudes which may obstruct the treatment in spite of being on a strict diet or consuming the right herbs.
The gunas and doshas are known to be cross-referenced and hence they are treated together. For instance, an imbalance in doshas will include tamas to some extent. Pain, deep-seated trauma or debility are examples of such conditions. A good and well experienced Ayurvedic practitioner should have the capability of discriminating the various conditions of each dosha in tamasic, rajasic and sattvic modes.
Negative karma, known as Buddhi dosha or Prajnaparadha occurs primarily owing to wrong judgment. It is inclusive of wrong use of emotions, senses, prana and mind. It is a representation of the effects of gunic distortions and long-term doshas as they create psychic problems. Rajas are known to be the initiation of wrong judgment as it includes wilfulness. It also happens to be the reflection of tamas over the time. It provides an indication of tendencies that an individual fails to recognize, see or change. Ayurveda is however not limited to enhancing the sattva guna or reducing the doshas. This form of medicine also assists in the removal of negative sanskaras and karmas which are carried in their behavior. Vedic astrology plays an indispensable role in this aspect as it helps in understanding the karmas.
As we think of an Ayurvedic form of medicine, we must understand the psychology of karmas, gunas and doshas. The mind contributes to having an integral role in this part. The body is only the place where the lodging of the imbalances is accomplished, manifested or responsible for diseases.
Ayurveda and Counselling
Ayurveda is recognized to be a counseling based form of medicine in the West in these days. A large part of this form of medicine involves making the patients understand how changing lifestyle assists in the prevention of diseases. This system of medicine is also about educating the patients how a change in lifestyle help in maintaining an optimal health and treatment of specific diseases. A significant part of the Ayurvedic system of medicine is based on right diet, herbs, and proper exercises, a deep understanding of the psychology of people is required. It is essential to have a good rapport with the patient for ensuring the right compliance and communication with the treatment options.
The ways to deal with a person suffering from vata dosha for putting an end to the anxiety differs widely in comparison to the ways to deal with an individual having pitta dosha and hidden anger problems and kapha dosha. Their psychology will depend largely on how these recommendations are accomplished and if they will work in the right ways. It is not competent in Ayurvedic system of medicine for Ayurvedic practitioners to arrive at the right diagnosis and right treatment plans. It is a must that the Ayurvedic practitioners should have the right counseling skills to encourage the patients to implement the treatment plans in an effective manner. The primary reasons for the failure of Ayurvedic treatments are the inability of practitioners for understanding the psychology of patients in a proper manner and the failure of patients to follow the Ayurvedic recommendations in a strict manner.
Psychological and physical suffering:
The statistics reveal that in the West, there are more psychological suffering than physical ones. The modern system of medicine has been successful in curing several acute diseases in an effective manner. However, emotional suffering has enhanced many folds due to several factors in our modern life owing to the interruption of harmony with nature.
Psychological-mental problems such as depression have become an epidemic in these days. As per the reports, even children suffer from these conditions on a regular basis. Some of these conditions are hyperactivity, ADD (Attention deficit disorder). The recent medicine, which is based on drugs is responsible for the development of special medications and for the treatment of such conditions. However, these medicines are highly powerful and come with several negative effects on human body. Ayurveda can offer a good alternative to the treatment of psychology and mind, primarily through drugs. The culturally disturbed psychology demands that Ayurvedic practitioners should be having psychological tools for dealing with the same.
In general, the doctors recommend high power drugs for patients suffering from Vata dosha. The issue is that such drugs are responsible only for suppressing the Vata dosha in lieu of correcting the same. Hence, we should ensure that patients suffering from Vata dosha should not get involved in these drugs as they may never come out of the same.
A number of patients who prefer going to Ayurvedic practitioners in these days do so for attaining some psychological and spiritual relief. They go to Ayurvedic practitioners for the treatment of body and mind with some spiritual basis. They come with the expectation that Ayurvedic practitioner will be capable of handling spiritual and emotional problems. The treatment procedures will not be limited to a physical level. Hence, psychology is considered to play an essential role in Ayurveda in these days.
However, there are few sources of information available, related to Ayurveda and psychology. Similar topics are readily available in Sushruta, Charaka, and other Ayurvedic classics in comparison to organized in one place. They also include teachings about exercises, yoga, and spiritual issues.
One of the primary requirements of the Ayurvedic system of medicine is presenting a better psychological model which will be beneficial in the present cultural context. A number of Ayurvedic practitioners in the West have followed this process. A number of Ayurvedic practitioners need to encounter the challenges involved.
Ayurvedic Psychology and Yoga
In accordance with Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Classical Yoga is an indication of calming the Chitta and working on the mind which contributes to being the basis of removal of suffering. The psychological therapy of Ayurveda of enhancing sattva is primarily yoga therapies. Classical yoga happens to be a psychology itself. It indicates that Ayurvedic psychology must utilize the views and tools of Yoga.
A number of yoga teachers have tried marking the psychological applications of Yoga and designing a fresh psychological model of Yoga. This is usually accomplished from the greater Yoga tradition. Though the work is highly useful, it will be of higher value if it is integrated into a better Ayurvedic approach. Ayurvedic psychology should be an integral part of Yoga psychology. It is not possible for the development of the two to flourish without each other.
Models of Mind
Ayurvedic system of medicine primarily involves the Samkhya-Vedanta model of the mind which in turn is divided into the following:
Conditioned consciousness or Chitta
Judgment of intelligence of Buddhi
Capacity of Imagination or Mind- Manas
Ego – Ahamkara.
In accordance with the Yoga terminology, Chitta refers to a general term for mind along with manas that signifies sensory mind. In accordance with Vedantic terminology, manas refers to mind as a whole whereas Chitta refers to memory bank as a whole.
In general, Chitta is counted to be the field of mental disturbances which should be removed or calmed. Buddhi is the representation of higher discriminating intelligence that should be developed for the removal of disturbances and procuring peace of mind. Manas signifies outer sensory and mental activity which is responsible for keeping disturbances in motion and should be controlled. Ahamkara contributes to being the self-will or ego factor that is responsible for keeping the procedure in motion.
It indicated that procedures of reducing ahamkara, controlling manas, development of Buddhi, calming the Chitta are mandatory to Ayurvedic approach.
There are also differences how every guna and dosha is known to have an effect on every level of mind. For instance, vata in Chitta happens to be a deep-seated disturbance of mind which is known as anxiety. The tamasic will include a wider chance of suicidal tendency and self-negativity.
Ayurveda involves the elimination of predominant doshas of Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. It also includes removal of tamas, rajas and mental doshas from the field of psychology and from every level of mind. Enhancing intelligence or Buddhi through meditation and study plays an indispensable role in the process. There are severe problems of translating the insights and terms into an understandable dialect. Thus, it becomes easier for patients to understand the same and use them for the development of strategies for the improvement of lifestyle.
Mantra contributes to being the primarily healing tool for the mind. Mantras are believed to have a strong influence on prana at the same time. Using pranayama and mantra is considered to be the right option for doing this.
Mind and Prana
Yoga and Ayurveda regard prana and mind similar to two wings of a bird. The prana happens to be the power of action whereas the mind is considered to be the power of knowledge. The mind has a deep level of awareness in comparison to outer pranas which are operative in motor organs and senses. The main prana happens to be a deep level of awareness in comparison to the thinking mind.
It is not possible to treat mind without treating prana. It needs the yoga practices of pratyahara and pranayama. It is not possible to treat prana without considering the Kapha, Pitta, and Vata, the three predominant doshas in the body. It indicated rectifying the diet, inclusion of useful herbs in the diet, Ayurvedic massage, Pancha Karma and cleansing procedures. Using pranayama and mantra is considered to be a perfect option to accomplish the same.
Mind and Self:
Ayurveda is known to follow a Samkhya-Vedantic view in which the mind happens to be an instrument of consciousness. For the treatment of mind, it is a prerequisite to keeping the greater Vedic view in mind which indicates that mind and body are transcended by awareness and being. The main objective of Ayurveda and yoga is not limited to mental harmony. It is also about bringing the mind in peace.
Ayurvedic psychology leads to self-realization and self-examination. The best option of harmonizing the mind is returning the self behind mind along with a stream of thoughts.
In India, modern Ayurveda along with Ayurveda-allopathic training has decreased psychological and yogic elements of traditional Ayurveda. Western Ayurveda, with the naturalistic and yogic background along with application in psychological disharmony, is known to have a higher requirement and interest for the psychological aspects of an Ayurvedic system of medicine.
Along with the application of meditation, mantra, changes in lifestyle, Pancha Karma, massage, herbs, diet, the psychological elements of Ayurveda is indispensable. Ayurvedic psychology is also considered to be a good field for specialization at the same time.
Reinhard Kowalski is a renowned German or British psychologist who has accomplished several works in this field. Some of his works can be found in his book named The Only Way Out is In. Working in the British Health Care System, he gained success in integrating Ayurveda into the practice.