To practice or not to practice?

A question that emerges in the mind of almost everyone who strives for advancements in his/her physical, mental or spiritual domain. Whether it is a workout or a meditation, it all takes willpower, time and perseverance. Often a lot of perseverance.

Practicing Ayurveda is not an exception. It is much more a lifestyle than an occassional hobby. And lifestyle changes can rarely be adopted overnight. Every time one’s hand reaches out for an easily accessible ready-made comfort food we have to sharpen our willpower by opening an Ayurveda cookbook, looking for a healthy recipe and actually spending time preparing it. Every time the workout hour approaches and a call of a friend inviting out for a movie is diverting our attention, we have to shift it back to our internal goal so important for the development of our personality, have the strength to say “no”, pick up that sports bag or yoga mat and consciously choose to practice, practice and practice.

What is practice and why is it sometimes so hard to follow? In Ayurveda, the daily practices around the physical body mean cleansing and nourishing it, so that it functions at its optimum and the vital force Prana can freely flow and feed it. Such practices include self-massage, oil pulling, lubricating the ears, rinsing the nasal channels and eyes (more on what it is and why doing it is important I will write in the upcoming article). In the busyness of the 21st century doing it once a week would be the absolute minimum. A question here arises why on earth are we brushing our teeth 1-2 times a day, whereas the rest of the channels and openings delivering us the wonder of sound, sights, smells and tastes are rarely attended to?

And indeed, why is it so hard to follow? The answer lies in how we see our body. Many of us are born healthy. Health is given to us upon birth for free and, illusionary enough, we look at it as an intrinsic property that will always stay. Whereas buying a car, boat, house cost us hours of hard work to make money. Those are the hours we value high and are the reason we bring that car to a garage and look after and repair the house regularly. Somewhere at the back of our mind a thought sits that these material values can fade unless we lubricate and repaint them. So true.

Another reason why we prefer to “forget” to practice or find countless reasons why not to do it is the seemingly subtle effect on health and delayed effect of disease. The time span between the day we start practicing and actually seeing the effect (feeling vibrant or falling ill) is too long to make the connection between the two. In Ayurveda the immediate effect of practice is often missing. It’s not a pill that reduces headache instantly.

What happens meanwhile with our bodies? The body works hard every second to stay in homeostasis or balance. That balance, sometimes more and sometimes less, is constantly challenged by the environmental impact and our often not so supporting daily activities. The more the balance is compromised the harder the body has to work to keep its functions up and running. Just like a car, it needs its channels cleansed and lubricated (preferably preemptively rather than after a disease has emerged). By doing it we alleviate this task and keep diseases away. Acting preemptively may cost some time, but it is by far cheaper and way less painful than buying expensive medicines, visiting doctors trying to repair the damage. What’s even more motivating, we have only one body in this life and, unlike a car or house, spare parts are not available and cannot be replaced. A little scary, isn’t it? The best part of the story though is – after having practiced, it ALWAYS (I promise – always!) feels good. So why not do what makes us feel light, sharp, energetic and happy?! OK, now time for practice! In the next article I will talk about how oleation of the body channels works on our physical and mental (yes, that too!) health.