I’ve been hearing a lot about “wholeness” recently. And everyone talks about the mind-body connection.
When you look in a dictionary, you’ll see the words: undivided, not broken.
Wholeness is what pertains to all aspects of human nature, especially one’s physical, intellectual and spiritual development.
This made me look a little deeper to figure out what wholeness means to me.
I have been practicing Yoga for the last 35 years. My practice consists of breathing techniques, postures and meditation. Also I studied Yoga philosophy and endeavored to apply into my life the principles of discipline, self-awareness, and self-study that I was taught. Finally I have been a vegetarian for 30 of those years as a way to increase my life force .
Honestly, I thought I had the concept of wholeness down packed. I thought I was the epitome of wholeness!
Until, I got sick.
I started having digestive issues that would wake me up in the middle of the night with burning sensations in the belly and in sweats. No matter what I ate, I would feel sick. I stopped going out for dinner with my friends. I felt isolated and shameful.
How can this happen to me?!!!
After flailing for a few months and crying “poor me, poor me”, I sought the help of Ayurveda to heal.
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest systems of health care with thousands (some say over 5,000) years of trial and error.
(You can read more about Ayurveda in this article on sleep.)
It’s the sister science of Yoga and traditionally the two are practiced together. Yoga takes care of the soul while Ayurveda takes care of the body.
But really, they’re interlaced, Yogic principles are found in Ayurveda and Ayurvedic principles are found in Yoga.
What I discovered looking through the lens of Ayurveda is that to be whole is to heal.
To be whole is to heal
Did you know that in old English the words whole and heal have the same root?
Through the lens of Ayurveda, I discovered that despite my practices, what my symptoms told me is that I was broken and fragmented, not whole.
Let me explain.
Symptoms, whether physical like my digestive issues, or mental, like stress or anxiety, or spiritual like fear, distrust and attachment are expressions of imbalance.
Most importantly, Ayurveda teaches us that a symptom on one level means that all levels are out of harmony.
As above so below
In Ayurveda, I’m dominantly of a Pitta nature. That means that I inherently have a tendency towards heating up. This explained my symptoms.
But what I discovered next was eye opening.
Ayurveda contends that the root of my specific imbalance or symptoms is distrust. This lack of trust permeates my inner consciousness. It is then expressed in my self-conscious mind as judgment, anger and impatience. At the level of the nervous system it manifests as intensity, urgency. And finally shows up in my physical body as burning digestion, night sweats, inflammation, and fever.
I couldn’t pretend anymore. It was time to recognize that despite my spiritual ‘”work”, I carried deep within the feeling that I couldn’t trust myself, people and Life.
By the way, I see it now in all Pitta dominant people in the way that they feel like they have to do it all. They have to work hard!
Does that resonate with you?
Healing from the inside out
So how do I heal myself and ultimately experience wholeness as my everyday reality?
Ayurveda offers lifestyle and diet strategies, some of which, like meditation, I was already doing. The difference is that I finally understood the intention, the lesson, so to speak, behind these techniques and that made all the difference.
No matter what strategies I integrate in my life, the underlying intention behind them is to help me surrender and trust.
Doing my practices with that intention in mind, completely changes my experience. And in the end it will heal me.
I also incorporate other practices which help me surrender like painting which I’m not particularly good at but that’s the point, as well as going for a walk on the beach when I know I have a ton of things to do.
Next time, I’ll share what the core imbalances are for Vata and Kapha doshas.
Tell me what does wholeness mean to you? What are some things you do that make you feel whole? And what are some things you do that make you feel broken?
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