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Ayurveda Basics: Ayurvedic Psychology
Ayurveda is an ancient science of body, mind, and spirit which has stood the test of time for over 5,000 years. It has eight branches. One of these branches is Ayurvedic psychology, also known as graha chikitsa or bhuta vidya.
Ayurvedic psychology addresses mental imbalances and how to treat them with holistic methods so that patients may return to their inborn state of mental equilibrium. The mind is known as manas (phonetically mun-us) in Sanskrit.
Ayurvedic doctors (vaidyas) or practitioners can determine a patient’s current psychological state (manas vikruti) through the eight-fold examination process (ashta vidya pariksha). This includes observing how the patient speaks, taking the pulse, looking at the person’s nails, tongue, etc. Manas vikruti is also felt through the second of the seven levels of pulse in Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis. Manas vikruti can be classified by the three doshas or Ayurvedic body types: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
People with Vata imbalances in Ayurvedic psychology, they will exhibit symptoms of fear, loneliness, extreme anxiety, nervousness, a very restless mind, and ongoing insomnia. The patient will speak a mile a minute, quickly change topics during a conversation, have restless leg syndrome, and crave ongoing external stimulation. The patient will have very dry skin, rough brittle nails, and a shaky tongue.
Those individuals with Pitta imbalances in Ayurvedic psychology will be prone to anger, criticism, judgment, temper tantrums, and never ending analysis. The Pitta person speaks sharply, impatiently and concisely and expects the same in return. The patient will often be balding or prematurely gray, be prone to moles, freckles, and inflammatory conditions.
Patients who have Kapha imbalances in Ayurvedic psychology will exhibit a heavy type of depression, greed, attachment, and lethargy. They enjoy routines and are quite caring and nurturing. Kapha patients walk and talk slowly and may be overweight. They may ponder a question for a while before answering or forming an opinion. Once they make up their mind, then it is difficult to alter their mindset.
Why psychological imbalance occurs
Manas vikruti in Ayurvedic psychology is attributable to a number of factors. These include following a diet which creates more vikruti, incompatible food combining, toxins from repressed emotions, unresolved emotions, stress, trauma, and poor lifestyle habits.
Manas vikruti may be balanced through eating a proper doshic diet, meditation, following a daily routine to balance your dosha, and herbs. Ayurvedic also offers herbal remedies which can be used to calm the mind. If you are taking any allopathic prescription or OTC medication, please consult with your primary care physician before you begin taking any herbal supplements. It is also advisable to get a full Ayurvedic consultation to help you on the road to recovery. Some herbs traditionally used for the mind are Brahmi (in powder form or as an oil or as a tincture), Bhringraj (powder or as an oil), Bacopa (powder or as a tincture), and Shankhapushpi.
Manas prakruti is our inborn mental constitution in Ayurvedic psychology. This is determined by the sixth level of the pulse. It is described as an eight-petaled lotus. An adept Ayurvedic practitioner will be able to identify what the manas prakruti is though this refined pulse assessment. Each of the eight petals is linked to a Vedic deity and the attributes of that deity. These attributes will reveal qualities such as compassionate, introspective, judgmental, etc. Pulse assessment will identify which of these petals is activated.
3 types of mind
When looking at Ayurvedic psychology, we can characterize an individual’s mind as falling into one of three categories. Sattva is purity, clarity, truth, and balance. Rajas is activity, passion, dynamism, and changeability. Tamas is inertia, lethargy, heaviness, and indecision. Ayurveda also classifies foods into the qualities (gunas) of sattva, rajas, and tamas. There are corresponding deities for each guna. Sattva is associated with Brahma, rajas with Vishnu, and tamas with Shiva.
In Ayurvedic psychology, we pay attention to how the sense organs function. To support the nasal passage, we may use herbal nose drops. For ear problems, Ayurveda offers specific formulations. Ayurveda has herbs to assist with throat or vocal difficulties. There are also herbal supplements for sleep disorders. Please consult your doctor if you are on any medication before taking herbal products.
In Vedic astrology or Jyotish, the Moon is linked to the mind, as it is fickle in its waxing and waning qualities. We can often tell the state of one’s mind by examining the Moon in the birth chart.
Ayurvedic psychology states that both physical and mental prakruti and vikruti go hand in hand. We cannot separate our thoughts from our bodies. Everything is interconnected. To lead a life truly in harmony with nature, we must also live harmoniously with ourselves and society. Through understanding Ayurvedic psychology and balancing our doshas, we can also exist in a greater state of equilibrium.