”The root cause of disease is not listening to the body. Intelligence is the flow of awareness, that tells us what we should and should not do. To purify the blood means to listen to the intelligence of the body. A sensitive body is the abode of God. With a sensitive body, life becomes a ceremony, because it is the action of awareness.”
Dr. Vasant Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda, p.122.
“How can I be more spiritual?” is a question I am asked not infrequently. It’s seemingly a heavy one – but I simply share my personal understanding. To be spiritual, I think it’s important to maintain a connection and belief in something larger than yourself. In yoga and ayurveda, the understanding and respect for natural law and nature is one way to stay healthy, and feel balanced. By taking care of the body and the mind, one can better maintain connection with the soul. The soul being one small gem of that larger consciousness, that larger force.
I was inspired by this article I came across recently, by Chelsea Rice, “The Spiritual Significance of Yogic BodyCare.” I think it’s a wonderful topic, and would love to share where she got my mind going. To take this idea a little deeper, and to connect it with ayurvedic self healing practices, also known as dinacharya.
Dinacharya : To come close to the Day
Dinacharya offers daily routine and self-care practices for aligning ourselves with greater forces in order for our physiology to function optimally. The doshas, or the elements (Vata, Pitta and Kapha – Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth) each rule a time of day. The qualities of these elements present more strongly during those hours, and those qualities can be utilized to our benefit. For example, during the morning between 6 and 10 a.m., is the best time to exercise to counter the effects of Kapha on our physiology, but during the evening between 6 and 10 p.m., we want to allow the heavier tendencies of Kapha to bring us towards sleep. For another example, we want to eat our largest meal of the day between 10 and 2 pm midday, when Pitta (Fire) is the strongest, which optimally affects our digestive fire, or agni. Vata is dominant between 2 and 6 a.m. and p.m., and we can utilize the expansive quality in those hours to meditate or study.
Macrocosm and Microcosm
Without going into all the details of dinacharya practices, I’d rather go into what the significance could be. When we learn and practice these things, we are literally aligning ourselves with the day – realigning our physiology with the movement of the sun and moon, and more. These universal laws, simply put, affect our being. As I said before, we can find better health when we are not fighting against these natural laws, but I can also subscribe to the idea that the microcosm (that’s us!) affects the macrocosm.
“According to the Law of Microcosm and Macrocosm, everything that exists in the vast external universe, the macrocosm also appears in the internal cosmos of the human body, the microcosm. Charaka says, ’Man is the epitome of the universe. There is in man as much diversity as in the world outside, and there is in the world as much diversity as in man.’ When the individual becomes aligned with the universe, the lesser cosmos functions as a harmonious unit of the greater.” – Dr. Robert Svoboda
When we adopt self care practices according to these laws, we are bringing awareness to nature – or you might even say God’s rules – and respecting a revering her creation. The more respect and love we give to our selves as vessels, the more harmoniously we can live amongst others. The more self-love we practice, the better a channel we can be to the love all around. We can invite this energy flow with our intention and attention. As my teacher, Dr. Claudia Welch always shares, “where our attention goes, prana flows.”
This idea could dangerously seem narcissistic, but I think we can actually begin to take ourselves less seriously if we see our daily self care practices as devotion and ritual given up to the divine.
I love this article by Dr. Claudia Welch, which goes more in depth about specific dinacharya practices.