“Philosophy is an infertile hybrid. Life is a prolific hermaphrodite.”
My least favorite thing about Ayurveda is the tendency towards punctilious rule following. My favorite thing about Ayurveda is its incredible dynamic flexibility.
A core adage of Ayurveda is:
Anything can be Medicine; Anything can be Poison.
There are no hard and fast rules, only guiding principals. In a world where even the reliability of seasonal weather changes are untrustworthy this flexibility is both a great gift and a great responsibility. We may not know what is lurking around the next corner, but we are armed with orienting principals no matter what.
This is all very liberating; the power and responsibility to manage our own health is in our hands. The tricky part of course is the self-awareness to know what is needed and the will to act on this self-awareness.
Self-awareness gives us the knowledge needed to act in the best interest of our body. But this is a certain kind of self-awareness that purely reflects our experience. Our body does not think or read or analyze scientific reports; it feels. The senses, or indreyas, are our window into our own physical needs. So in order to determine what your body needs you must be in tune with the sensations and drives of your body.
The indreyas support health by helping us navigate via the gunas or discernible physical qualities. We are inherently tuned to navigate the world via gunas. Our indreyas provide us with simple identification of experience, free of judgement or concept. What are the elements of any experience? Is this hot or cold, still or mobile, fine or course, rough or smooth? It is in our natures' to seek balance. We instinctively react to being overheated by balancing with something cooling. If our elbows are dry we soften them with soothing lotion. Refining our self awareness further gives us more refined tools to navigate changing landscapes.
I recommend a daily practice of listening to the sensations of the body and identifying them. Even a few moments of this will do. Be silent and listen for what your body knows and needs.
Read more here about how to understand the urges of the body.