I recently attended a two day seminar by the world renowned Ayurvedic doctor, Vasant Lad. Dr Lad is a brilliant, humble, funny and wise human being, who gives his time and energy to teaching the deep wisdom of Ayurveda.
The second day’s topic was relationships, and it was a day that had a profound impact on me and made me question my own and other people’s patterns of behaviour.
Ayurvedic Medicine places great emphasis on relationships, and because Mind, Body and Spirit all need to be in a healthy state if we are to truly be in complete health, we need all of our relationships to be healthy and clear. Perhaps these days we are too preoccupied with the physical aspect of health and we are consequently overlooking the metaphysical. We only have to look at the current issues regarding mental health as well as global issues such as war, extremism and the refugee crisis, to see that it is not just physical disease that is increasing at unprecedented rates.
For our relationships to be healthy and thus promote Mind health, we need clarity. However, we are all aware that there is too much judgement, criticism and anger in many relationships (between individuals, groups and nations), and we all draw conclusions about others. These conclusions make us decide how we see the people we come into contact with- in fact, we have already decided what we think even before we engage in any dialogue.
Ayurvedic philosophy is deep and insightful; it says that in order to have absolute clarity in our relationships, we must practise conscious thinking. During the seminar, Dr Lad explained that our subconscious thoughts are simply thoughts that we are not conscious of until we CHOOSE to be. When we allow subconscious thinking to dominate our relationships, we are in chaos, but once we become conscious, or aware, we can objectively observe these thoughts and put them in order- We can rationalise them. This allows space for the relationships we have, and this space stops expectations that in turn lead to disappointment.
It made me start thinking about how we in the West see health and well being and how we seem to be missing something fundamentally obvious….
The Western idea of health seems to be one that is made up of a series of unlinked fragments that one is able to dip into depending on where one’s interests lie. Some like to practise yoga or pilates, others run marathons or attend fitness boot camps; some people decide to become vegetarian, or vegan, all for the sake of better health. Whilst this is fine and ultimately does some physical good, it is a fragmented way of looking at our wellness. What we are overlooking is the interdependence between Mind, Body and Spirit; we cannot focus on one without the other.
Ayurveda is an incredibly conscious medicine, one that asks us to forgive far more readily than we like to. Forgiveness is not easy for human beings, because our egos are easily hurt, and though we are all making mistakes all the time, it seems that we cannot see this in ourselves,and we cannot forgive it in others.
Once we form a pattern of thinking and we assume that those we are close to are at fault, our initial expectations are not fulfilled and we decide to separate from them. This could be any kind of relationship; once the expected behaviour of another is not met, we become confused, and the relationship loses clarity. We are fickle beings who find it easier to walk away, carrying hurt, confusion, anger and sorrow with us and bringing them into the next relationship. We look for the answers in new connections, but the emotions we bring to these relationships are not magically erased by them. They are still there, an integral part of us, and they are ready to surface again the second we feel that the person we are pinning our hopes on has let us down. Thus the cycle continues. If we can start to take ownership of our feelings and address what it is in us that feels hurt, confused, angry and sad, we can come to see our relationships as vehicles for learning and growing.
How many times have do we convince ourselves that another person has hurt us, made us angry or let us down? Have they done this to us or simply highlighted emotions that we have carried with us through past experiences? Think of all the feelings floating around in our subconscious waiting to feed on our weak moments.
How many relationships could be saved through self acceptance and responsibility for our own learning and expansion? It is tragic that we cannot see this. We divorce, we break ties with old friends, we even lose touch with family members, through blame and unconscious thinking.
The sooner we can accept that life is never perfect and that relationships and challenges are part of our development, the sooner we can begin to bring more clarity and wholeness to our lives.
Fragmented lives are lives that can never be holistically healthy.