What Exactly is a Behavioral Rasayana?
To answer this question, let us first understand what a rasayana is. The word "rasayana" means "that which supports rasa." Rasa or plasma is the first of the seven tissues, namely:
- Rasa: essential fluid — plasma
- Rakta: blood
- Mamsa: muscle
- Meda: adipose tissue or fat
- Asthi: bone
- Majja: bone marrow and nervous system
- Shukra: reproductive tissue
Rasa, quite obviously, is the foundation of the human physiology: therefore, anything that supports rasa nourishes the other tissues and the immune system.
Maharishi Ayurveda bestows the status of a rasayana on super-healing foods and supplements such as ashwagandha, ghee, and above all, Amrit. Made from 44 rare healing herbs and fruits, Amrit is a nutritional supplement that boosts immunity and overall health.
But that is as far as physical rasayanas are concerned.
Rasayanas of the Mind
A behavioral rasayana is that which deals with the mind's influence on the body in a very concrete, observable way. For instance, when you are happy, your body releases certain feel-good chemicals that promote health. On the other hand, when you are stressed or unhappy, the body releases neurochemicals that put a strain on and harm the body's vital organs.
Many centuries ago, ayurvedic physicians made this connection between the mind's state of health and its effect on the body's well-being. That is why they laid down a comprehensive list of behaviors that a person must cultivate in order to achieve perfect health or "swaasthya." In fact, ayurvedic sages were so convinced of the mind-body relationship that they emphasized matters such as a doctor's bedside manner as key components in the process of healing. In his insightful book, Contemporary Ayurveda, Dr. Hari Sharma lists some of the healing and toxic behaviors according to classical ayurvedic texts like the Charaka Samhita.
Behaviors and attitudes to maximize:
- Speech that uplifts people
- Charity and regular donation
- Religious observance
- Respect toward teachers and elders
- Being positive
- Moderation and self-control, especially with regard to alcohol and sex
Behaviors and attitudes to be avoided:
- Harsh or hurtful speech
- Speaking ill of others behind their backs
- Coveting another's spouse or wealth
Another important rasayana, says Dr. Sharma, is "knowing the measure of time and place with propriety." In other words, a healthy and regular daily routine is an important behavioral rasayana. Modern science calls it chronobiology — following the natural rhythms of nature.
The Value of Routine
Following a regular routine is one of the founding principles in ayurvedic healing. Taking simple steps such as re-scheduling your meal and bedtimes can make a huge difference to your health, says Maharishi Ayurveda. The age-old advice of "early to bed and early to rise" can truly be your key to happiness.
Think about it. When you sleep early — ayurvedic physicians advise going to bed at the latest by 10:00 p.m. — your body gets a chance to refresh and rejuvenate. The digestive system gets adequate time to process dinner, and you wake up feeling energetic and healthy.
However, "early to bed" in these stressful times has become less easy to achieve than it sounds. If you are among the 70 million Americans struggling to get a good night's sleep, here are some tips that will help you out:
Sleep Easy Tonight
Begin with three easy changes in your lifestyle:
- Cut down on caffeine, especially in the afternoon. The effects of caffeine, as is only too well-known, are anti-sleep.
- Eat a light dinner. This will keep your digestive system happy, and with good digestion comes good sleep.
- Create a restful environment. Avoid sense-stimulating activities like watching television, reading a book, or working on an office file. Just lie back and relax. Ideally, being in bed by 10:00 p.m. is a great sleep-promoting habit to cultivate.
See a Vaidya
An ayurvedic physician will study your pulse and determine which specific imbalances are causing your sleep disorder. Based on his conclusions, the vaidya can recommend herb blends to help restore overall balance, and with it, your ability to sleep well.
Maharishi Ayurveda has in its treasury of herbal healers some wonderful sleep formulations. The Blissful Sleep herbal tablets promote deep and restful sleep. The ingredients in these tablets are time-tested healers. Indian Valerian and Muskroot (Jatamansi) are highly respected in ayurveda as natural sleep aids. Winter Cherry (Ashwagandha) helps balance the mind and emotions. The first night that you get the sleep of your dreams, you will have taken a giant step toward feeling healthier and happier. Then, blessed with physical and mental well-being, you will find it easy — and natural — to follow the behavioral rasayanas in your life.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.