Ayurveda: What is Natural in Your Environment? (Part 1)

What does it mean to be in harmony with nature?

Last Spring I spent 2 months in India and it made me ponder on the question “What is really natural?” more than ever before. India is the motherland of Yoga and Ayurveda, the ancient sciences of living in harmony with nature and with oneself. However, modern day India has moved far away from the natural ways of living. Upon our arrival in Jaipur, Rajasthan on a taxi ride to our hotel, my husband and I were most astonished to witness cows crossing busy roads and eating out of piles of trash. Trash was scattered everywhere our eyes could see. Our taxi driver explained that many of the cows were so-called “holy cows”. These cows don’t have an owner and they roam around in the middle of busy cities amidst trucks, motorcycles, cars and piles of trash looking for food.

After the initial shock, my eyes got used to the scene of trash in every place we traveled in India with an exception of wealthy hotels, ashrams and temples. Rivers and lakes where women wash clothes were flooded with human trash, plastic bottles, feces, etc. My heart was breaking looking at a little duckling popping its tiny little head out of trash floating all around it. My mind was busy thinking about what it would take to create an infrastructure that would help clean up India and particularly what it would take for the people there to begin to care for their environment and appreciate cleanliness. I watched people time and time again throw away plastic bottles and wrappers on the streets without any attempts to dispose them in trash. In fact, trash bins almost didn’t exist, not to mention a non-existing concept of “recycling”.

What happened to this Motherland of Yoga and Ayurveda?

This extreme case of living in complete disharmony with nature occurred due to people’s greed for more and more that became insatiable. This living out of tune and disharmony with nature shows up as a disharmony in our minds and imbalanced in our bodies. We became so driven by success and behaviors that create an illusion of getting somewhere that would be better than this present moment of NOW. Pema Chodron said it beautifully and simply: “One of the deepest habitual patterns that we have is the feeling that the present moment is not good enough”.

I deeply believe that it will take a lot of us coming together and realizing that we need to turn towards being a “Restoring society” versus an “Exploiting and neglecting society” taking away from the Earth and not giving back.

For my second month in India, I was blessed to land in a paradise I’d been longing for – a true heaven on Earth – a healing village of Vaidyagrama in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. It was founded by four Ayurvedic doctors with the principles of living in harmony with and healing ourselves with the support of Nature. Upon my stepping into the property of Vadiagrama, I immediately felt enveloped by the tranquility and harmony of the environment. I spent a month receiving the Ayurveda-prescribed treatment of Panchakarma. I was deeply touched by the purity of the environment and the commitment of the doctors and staff to returning to the natural ways of living and healing. The main moto of this place: “Nature has enough for everyone’s needs, not everyone’s greed”.

Cows of Vaidyagrama

This healing village had their own cows who provide milk to the patients and staff. I was so happy to see a young calf staying with its mother happily drinking her milk. You would ask why so happy? Because outside of this village, newborn calfs are separated from their mothers as soon as they are born so that the humans can have majority of the milk to themselves. Calfs at Vaidyagrama drink about 2 L of milk a day, while people get 2L to themselves. On the other hand, “greedy” farmers manage to receive at least 10X more milk by separating baby cows from their mothers and taking all the milk for human consumption. This is what I see as being completely out of tune with nature.

What does it really mean “living in-tune with nature”?

It starts with living in-tune with our own bodies, which is nature. In our modern high-paced productivity, technology and greed-driven life styles we go so far away from living in harmony with nature and our bodies. Why does it happen? I believe that’s because our minds tell us we need to do more, have more, receive more and prove more to ourselves and the society of how successful we are.

Living at Vaidyagrama for a month with no internet and other distractions in the middle of a natural vegetation I got used to waking up before sunrise to a natural alarm of beautiful bird songs outside my screened porch and falling asleep within minutes after an evening meditation between 9 an 10 pm. It was the first time that during my menstrual cycle I experienced complete rest for 5 days. My body was so grateful. After this experience upon my return home, I strived to create sanctuary of rest to honor my body’s rhythm during menstrual cycle.

In part 2 of this article I will be talking about how unnatural and detrimental to our wellbeing is suppressing our biological urges, emotions and feelings and how it creates suppression of life and our healthiness and happiness! There are 13 natural urges that Ayurveda emphasizes.

For now, I’d love to hear how you feel you are contributing to the “Restoring Society Movement”?

Here are few of my contributions to caring for our Mama Earth:

  • Purchasing produce from local farmers who don’t use pesticides, herbicides or insecticides
  • Recycling and collecting recyclables on my walks in the woods and in the neighborhoods
  • Composting food scraps, napkins, leaves, etc. in your backyard or signing up for a composting service in your area, such as Green Camino Curbside Composting
  •  Minimizing my use of office supplies and paper
  • Planting shrubs and trees to restore natural habitats for birds, bees and butterflies
  • Using Zero VOC paints and non-toxic materials from Green Design Center
  • Making my own cleaning supplies and healing remedies with DoTerra Essential Oils
  • Bringing my own utensils and plates to a potluck and bags to a grocery store
  • Donating to organizations such as Tree Sisters to contribute to reforestation of our Planet
  • Giving away clothes, house supplies, furniture to Freecycle or local charities instead of throwing away to the landfill
  • Adopting animals from shelters, humane societies or rescue organizations such as Pet Finder or HALO (Havanese Angel League Organizations) instead of purchasing from breeders and puppy mills. After adopting our Havanese boy Waldo, I found this article “11 Things Your Should Know About the Havanese” and was amazed to learn that their puppies cost $1800-2500, which is driving the puppy mill industry, adding to the cruelty that people treat these dogs with in order to make money off of them.

What are your ideas and ways you are already contributing to restoring our Planet?

This is a two part series:

I’m sending you blessings of peace and harmony within yourself and with the nature around you.

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