Making Mindful Health Choices through Ayurveda

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to spend two weeks detoxing at Sukhavati Ayurvedic Retreat Bali and whilst I feel blessed and fortunate I was able to have that time for myself, the lessons Ayurvedic medicine can bring to family life is available for anyone, anytime, any place.

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian practice of medicine and really a way of life as well. It harks back to one of my favourite themes – making mindful choices about how we live our lives. In the ‘olden days’ as I called it as a child before modern medicine became so readily available, generations had passed down their health secrets and remedies via the wisdom of the family matriarchs. They didn’t all work of course but many have stood the test of time as people have now become more aware and more interested in directing their own health care and by using natural methods to achieve it. Ayurveda is thousands of years old and is one of those health systems and practices passed down through the generations.

You could say Ayurveda is involved in establishing personal health regimes that are largely preventative towards illness and to use the natural world to help existing ailments. For example, as a family, you may wish to establish sleeping routines that are more in sync with nature like ‘early to bed’ an idea that follows our natural patterns of when we are actually ready for the sleeping cycle. Or you can easily explore which type of constitution you have and then choose to adhere to a lifestyle and way of eating that syncs with your own body to bring greater health and contentment to your life.

It is fascinating to explore what Ayurveda can offer and obviously in my short blog with my layman’s knowledge I can’t begin to paint the whole Ayurvedic picture. There are many authors who dedicate themselves to writing about Ayurveda, some more easily readable than others but the book I absolutely love and is written with adaptation to everyday life is Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health by Mark Bunn. I love the point of view he writes from and the sub-title says it all for me, ‘rediscover the simple, timeless secrets of health and happiness.”

I’d love to report that I always follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle but given the demands of everyday modern life, I do the best I can, adhering to whatever resonates with me and what brings the greatest results for me personally! I do know, however, after spending two weeks immersed religiously in its practice, it is possible to feel very, very well, centered and contented so I try to make as many mindful choices that support Ayurvedic principles as are practical for me.


Ayurveda and mindful living

My now adult children and I often look back on the foods we ate when they were growing up and have a laugh! I thought I was doing the right thing but given the move in our family’s eating habits  towards whole foods, it seems virtually inconceivable to us that they were often eating fish fingers and sausages (at least it was always with vegetables) for dinner and muesli bars and chips in their lunch boxes at school!

Whole foods are now very much what we eat. The influence started for us with our interest in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, a practice that dates back thousands of years and embraces so many of the holistic principles of living that have become so important to how many people now aspire to eat and live their lives.

The new interest in the Western world towards eating ayurvedically is a part of the swing to mindful living where we pay careful attention to what we eat, where it comes from and how it is prepared. Just like shopping at the farmer's market where you become conscious of the ingredients going into your food and get to know the growers who produce it, cooking ayurvedically and noticing the effects of different foods on your mind, body and spirit is an important step on the journey to mindful living, just being conscious of everything going on around you and within your body is to be mindful.

With ayurvedic food, everything is made from scratch (though it's not too time consuming I promise!) and different types of foods in the ayurvedic diet have positive or negative effects on the mind, body and spirit depending on your individual constitution or dosha as it is called in ayurveda. So eating ayurvedically encourages to be mindful not only during the cooking process but also during and after eating meals, to be mindful of which foods affect us in different ways so we can work towards our optimal health.

If Ayurveda interests you I can recommend two wonderful books that will open your eyes to another way of looking at both health and living life in general; Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra and Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health by Mark Bunn are both life-changing reads and ones I hope to write about more fully here at Making Mindful Children in time.

Happy reading and eating!