Creating Joyful Relationships
"I can't talk now — I have a terrible headache." "Leave me alone — I've had a miserable day and I need my space." "What happened to us? Don't you love me any more?"
In some form or another, we have all experienced these statements and what they can do to a relationship. Those who are lucky have encountered them only in books and movies. Others, perhaps the majority, have faced them in their own lives at some point or the other.
Observe these statements again. The first one tells of physical stress; the second, mental fatigue; and the third, emotional breakdown. All three of these — either individually or collectively — are potential relationship-wreckers.
Ayurveda has always recognized and respected the intimate connection between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our being. More than 5,000 years ago, ancient texts like the Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, and Ashthanga Hridayam recorded some amazing insights into the body-mind-soul connection.
Ayurveda, therefore, looks at relationships as a function of several complex factors. The prime factor, say ayurvedic vaidyas, in causing not only relationship problems but also physical ills is the inability of a person to feel centered within himself or herself. This can happen due to a variety of causes, ranging from genetics to hormonal or environmental imbalances. These imbalances affect an individual's ability to combat day-to-day stress. As a consequence, they diminish the person's ability to work, love, heal, pray, and live in the true sense of the word.
Because the problem/disorder is complex in nature, its solutions must also be more than material. That is why ayurveda combines several therapies as the solution: sadhana (meditation), aromas, music, massage, herbal treatment, proper diet, exercise and detoxification. Together, these healing therapies provide the balm that heals consciousness and makes a person feel whole again.
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians says ayurveda always approaches a problem at the root level. And at the root of all relationships is the human heart.
To the ayurvedic physician, the heart is not simply a pump. It is also the seat of emotions. It is endowed with immense potential to love, feel and give. It contains the essence of the cosmos within itself, just like a seed contains the whole tree. No wonder, then, that when you subject this sensitive, emotional heart to the stress-laden travails of daily living, it sometimes quails and shrinks within itself. This is an effect of pragya aparadh or "mistake of the intellect," when the intellect, drawn toward and influenced by material consciousness, loses connection with the wholeness of consciousness. This is when we stop being centered within ourselves.
The way to make this mistake right, says The Council, is to allow the heart to expand — to listen to its quiet voice, and to follow what it is telling us. When we start doing this, slowly, the pragya aparadh will be corrected. The seeds of doubt, despair and disappointment will shrivel up and die. We will be whole again, in ourselves and in our relationships with others.
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians shares five tips for keeping the emotional heart healthy and strong. Recognize that:
- True love is and should be unconditional. It gives without reservations.
- Your relationships will flourish if you follow your truest feelings and honor your commitments.
- It is important to experience all your thoughts and actions. Don't speak or act in haste.
- A positive attitude is a great relationship-strengthener.
- Giving is the key to receiving.
The other principal player in matters of the Self and its relationships with others is the mind. Ayurveda sees the mind as messenger between the Self and the senses. For the mind to be working in peak order, therefore, its "hinges" should be well-oiled, so to say.
Ayurveda believes the mind has three hinges:
- Dhi: The power to learn — acquire knowledge
- Dhriti: the power to retain what has been learned
- Smriti: the power to recall what has been learned and retained
When these three components work in perfect coordination, the mind is balanced. And a balanced mind is the key to harmony both within the Self and outside it. Ayurveda recommends some powerful mind-empowering herbs like brahmi, which enhances all three aspects of the mind. Maharishi Ayurveda's Blissful Joy System uses the synergy of powerful herbs to smoothen the mind-body connection and restore peace and happiness. A sampling of the herbs used in the Blissful Joy formula: arjuna is especially known to strengthen the heart and emotions. Ashwagandha and basil have powerful "adaptogenic" properties. They assist the body's natural resistance to stressful situations. Ashwagandha is also very effective in balancing the mind and improving emotional stability. Arjuna helps strengthen the body's natural rejuvenative processes, hastening the replacement of dead or weak cells with fresh, vital ones.
Vaidyas also recommend using intellect-friendly herbs and spices in daily cooking. Freshly-crushed black pepper, for instance, makes nutrients readily available to the microcirculatory channels of the body — giving mind power an immediate boost.
Ayurveda also recommends introspection as a powerful relationship-saving tool. Most relationships go wrong when the people involved start trading blame. If they were to stop and look within, they would be sure to find that the blame does not always lie with the other person. It can be hard to do, but once you do this introspection, you experience a sense of humbleness and forgiveness, both of which are tremendous relationship-repairers.
Finally, your diet and lifestyle also directly affect the way you think, feel and behave. We know only too well what happens when we miss breakfast or cannot sleep well. By eating that stewed apple, you may be keeping not only the doctor but also the therapist away.
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.