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          Friday, March 23, 2018


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Mind, body and medicine
By  Agantuk

Ayurveda provides an integrated approach to preventing and treating illness through lifestyle interventions and natural therapies. It is based on the view that the elements, forces, and principles that comprise all of nature - and that hold it together and make it function - are also seen in human beings. In Ayurveda, the mind (or consciousness) and the body (or physical mass) not only influence each other, but also have to work together in overcoming a disease. The implications, effect and influence of mind over body, and vice versa, have been amply documented in the ancient Ayurvedic books. This concept, which has been immemorially there, has been a new focus of attention of late 20th, early 21st century society.

The scientific community may be reluctant to accept, but a form of mind-body medicine has been inextricably linked to scientific medical research for decades. It is called the placebo response – seen in the controlled study and testing of prescription drugs.

The basic tenet of mind-body medicine is to treat the whole person. It is to treat the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states of human beings in such a way that there is balance between them. Mind-body medicine, according to Goleman and Gurin, is "an approach that sees the mind – or thoughts and emotions – as having a central impact on the body's health." Another major theme of mind-body medicine is prevention of disease or illness by helping patients realize the healing potential in themselves; empowering them with the tools to heal themselves so that reliance upon professional help is lessened.

The tools or therapies of mind/body medicine include relaxation training, meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback, psychotherapy, and guided imagery, and prayer. These therapies are practiced differently; each of them a field unto themselves. However, their basic philosophies are the same – utilizing the power of mind and body to heal.

Isn’t all that what Ayurveda propounds?

Ayurveda says there can be no mental health without physical health, and vice versa. In Ayurveda, symptoms and diseases that could be categorized as mental thoughts or feelings are just as important as symptoms and diseases of the physical body. Both are due to imbalances within a person, and restoring the natural balance mentally and physically treats both. In Ayurveda your whole life and lifestyle must be in harmony before you can enjoy true well-being.

Lifestyle interventions are a major Ayurvedic preventive and therapeutic approach. Lifestyle interventions have the same effect on you as may have your immediate surroundings, different climates, your domestic environment and so on. If your marital discord can weaken your heart, a happy marriage will imperatively strengthen it. Everything that is a part of your lifestyle has a positive or a negative effect on your health. Ayurveda, using the mind-body-medicine triangle, takes the lifestyle part of it a little further in the shape of prescriptions.

However there is a word of caution here. It is important to realize that mind-body medicine does not promise humans the ability to recover from major physical disease simply with "happy thoughts." If you come across such claims anywhere from any Ayurveda promotion organization, website or agency, you may feel free to rubbish the claim. Mind-body medicine is a deeper entity that only tells informs you of ways to uncover the best ways to prevent, lessen, and cure major illness by incorporating into everyday life a group of techniques, not necessarily old only, but new also. Mind-body medicine attempts to combine the ancient philosophies of health and healing with the proven techniques of modern medicine and genetics to create an ultimate healing regime.

The practices of mind-body medicine date back decades, centuries, and possibly even millennia. Traditional healers, mainly in India and elsewhere too, knew of this possibly more than what our mind-body laboratories do now.

Medicine in the ancient times had high doses of ethics thrown in, which are reflected anywhere from Hippocratic oath to teachings by Charaka and Shusuruta. All of them employed mind-body techniques to help a patient because they knew there are few, or totally none, risks or adverse side effects to be gotten from mind-body therapies. What could be safer for a patient than knowing that what he or she is using is inherently his or her own to begin with – mind and will power. .


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