Ayurveda takes the philosophical outline of Sankhya and applies it to the art of living, stretching its reaches beyond the confines of ascetic practice to the real world of relationship, career, conflict and even technology. The gunas (tamas, rajas and sattwa) and the five gross elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether) converge to explain doshas, or individual constitutions. This provides a basic categorization process to everything from body type to spiritual practice, disease, human cravings and proclivities.
Now that I have the skill to meditate and rediscover the internal terrain, I find that it can be very rough and vast.
This confusion is due to the time of life I’m in, but also to the time of the world. The rivers of East and West have joined, and the flow of time has become very muddy. It’s a time in which the average American is said to change career paths six times. The world is in an ecological crisis, there is suffering as always, and there are plenty of places to serve.
My suggestion is – should you feel a little lost – to develop your yogic skills as tools with which to carve out your Dharmic path. The worst that can happen is that you see a little more of yourself. You get to see the view from a new place – at a new job, a new home, or in a new phase of relating to another. Be sure to sit – to “wait upon the Lord” as the Hebraic traditions suggested – in prayer or journaling or meditation. Even a good road trip with the talk radio off can clear the internal clouds so you can see the signposts of realization.
André Gide wrote, “Every perfect action is accompanied by pleasure. By that you can tell that you ought to do it.” This very French advice is also truly Ayurvedic. Ayurveda and yoga teach that a beautiful scent can help ground us in stability. Touch can open our hearts. Hearing can hone our sense of truth. And taste can incite us to create. But like children at a carnival, we can run too quickly from sense to sense, overwhelmed with the whirl and flash of modern living. We therefore sense much, but absorb very little.
The concept of a spiritual purpose is so prevalent in my psyche that it has permeated all my professions, and even compromised my dealings with money. After listening to tense kitchen conversations about bills throughout my childhood, I falsely concluded that choosing a spiritual profession could lead to money troubles. This is simply not the case.
To the uninitiated, yoga can easily seem like just another exercise fad.After all, we’re moving quite a lot in an asana class.It takes strength, balance, flexibility – a lot of things you could also improve in an old-fashioned aerobics class, in this millennium without the French-cut leotards and elastic headbands. But to those that have experienced yoga through steady practice, it is clear that yoga is so much more than a good workout.