Ayurveda Guidance for a Disease Epidemic
The Corona Virus pandemic has swept through all corners of our planet. One of the classic reference books for Ayurveda, dated to a few centuries BCE, the Charaka Samhita teaches us somethings to do during epidemics:
“Truthfulness, compassion for living beings, charity, sacrifices, prayer to the gods, adoption of preventive measures, tranquility, protection of the self by mantra, etc., search for things that are good for the self, residence in auspicious places, observance of brahmacharya, service to those observing bhramacharya, discussion of religious scriptures, great sages and those who have self control, and constant association with religious, sattvika and learned persons – these are the therapies which if adopted during the epidemics can easily save the lives of individuals provided the death of a particular individual during the period is not predestined” Charaka Samhita: Vimanasthana III:12-18
For the less spiritual, we can summarise it in a more modern dialogue: it is important to maintain moral standards to ensure collective peace, live in a place that is auspicious (clean and well looked after), to devote time for the study of and company with good subjects and people (to establish mental peace), and to keep the lifestyle as prescribed by Ayurveda, without excesses in any way, be it activity, food or other habits. When Charaka states that some deaths are predestined, we can view on the understanding that some things are incurable even with all preventive measures, depending on the current health constitution of the individual.
This is not the first time we see ourselves threatened by a disease. Every year, or every other year, something similar occurs, maybe not to the extent of the current situation, but still similar. When the issue is not a virus or bacteria, it might be a conflict, an economic crisis, a terrorist attack, a natural catastrophe. Fear is part of the scope of human emotions and is a necessity for survival. Without it we would die very fast, not measuring the dangers that are in front of us. But, as with every emotion, it has an optimal response that should be defined according to the situation. The current situation should not be taken lightly, but definitely being terrified will not help anyone. Much to the contrary, as these emotions can increase the stress in our bodies and deplete the potencial for immunity, which at the moment, together with hygiene measures, are our greatest allies.
In the globalised world, we are facing a new condition for humanity where the problems of our neighbors can quickly become ours. It is a two way street: on one hand we can develop a larger sense of humanity, beyond borders, races, and cultures, it can teach us in time to be more compassionate, emphatic, caring; on the other it can extend our sensations of fear, anxiety, prejudice, and being ungrounded. Through social media, more and more we are living in a realm of images, ideas and several fragments of reality.
Therefore, this is the time to put in practice the ideals that we so passionately teach at Plantation Villa. Maintaing a healthy diet, respecting the rhythms of the body regarding times of meals and sleep, exercising according to your capacity and stage of life, finding some time to appreciate a sense of calmess – be it through meditation, being in nature or contemplating something that is uplifting. It is also a time to think collectively, understanding the dependancy that we have to others. Ayurveda places much emphasis on balance. To balance fear, stress and low immunity, we need to bring the oppostite actions into play, so that the body can maintain its homeostasis – a state of balance and established in itself.