How Ayurveda Brought Me True Wealth in Health

Mahatma Gandhi said, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

Two thousand five hundred years earlier, Hippocrates, the father of medicine said:

“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.”

Two personalities separated by time echo similar thoughts. The message still stands true today as it did back then.

How a Past Experience Can Define Us

I had the good fortune surrounding family circumstances to become responsible for my health at a very young age. Our family of four spent most Saturday mornings queued up outside doctors’ clinics to help manage my mother’s health.

At age eight, I skipped playing in a football championship match at school to be with my mother at the hospital. Though that game meant a lot to me, I made the decision to be beside her instead. Never absent or tardy, visiting my mother in the hospital that day seemed more important than a football game. She looked so helpless and frail to me.

Seeing someone so capable with such a strong persona on a hospital bed had a lasting impact on me. Knowing back then that I would create my life, I did not want to check in at a hospital for any illness. I wanted to own my life and have the weekends free. My hard-earned money would buy experiences and things rather than paying multiple doctors’ fees, expensive surgeries, and over-the-counter pills. 

I grew up in middle-class suburban Manila, very blessed to have an enviable lifestyle in the 90’s. We had a four-bedroom house with a garden in a quiet village, two cars, live-in nannies and cooks, private schools, and a rich, Western and Philippine daily diet. Our dining table had rice as a staple carbohydrate, at least two more dishes of meat, fish or vegetables, and fruit. We picked our food from our garden or bought from the local market. Our family always had more than enough and never lacked for anything. 

The Turning Point

The memory of my mother laying on a hospital bed and having to miss an event set off my interest in the health pages of teen magazines. I followed gym workout exercises and read as much as I could on nutrition and fitness. It took over nine years of eliminating each animal from my diet before I became fully vegan.

At home, spiritual books my parents used lined the mini library. We had a few on psychology and wellness which I read during summers in my teens. I started with the thinnest book I could find: One Minute for Myself. It changed my life. My attitude towards self-care, which naturally and previously leaned towards self-sacrificing, shifted. I benefitted from caring for myself first, using the analogy of putting on my own mask first before helping others. Then I read The Road Less Traveled, Being Happy, and Emotional Intelligence. The message of these books completely blew me away. They amplified the desire to help others be the best they could be.

Throughout my youth, I had strong influences on faith and spirituality. Both my parents were devout Catholics. I learned at a very young age to pray and go to mass daily. They instilled in me the belief of a higher power. We had Muslim neighbors who became my childhood playmates. I befriended agnostics and atheists in university. I studied philosophy, theology and all major religions. It allowed me to see their common theme and essence: love.

Every one of us may have a story behind our current food choices, diet and lifestyle, and even our spiritual practice. Some may be continuing the familiar tradition, culture, and religion that was bestowed upon them. Otherwise we adapted due to illness, moving to another country, marrying into a religion, or simply discovering a new way of living. 

My Journey into Ayurveda

I thought I had a well-established routine for my physical, mental and emotional health by the time I was in my early 20’s. So I ate, slept and exercised repeatedly like clockwork. As they say, “If it’s not broke, why fix it?” Until my body took an unusual turn before I turned 35. 

A mysterious ailment came over me. 

Suddenly, I was sleeping in until mid-morning and waking up still feeling tired. If I ate out in a restaurant, I would come home feeling aches, muscle pains and felt depleted, unable to stay awake. This went on unnoticed for a few years. I carried on doing my best to be do it all: a mother to two children, their driver, the cook and housekeeper, the errand person, a career woman, and all other roles and tasks that goes with being a full-time working mother.

From my years of self-study on nutrition, I knew that making dietary changes had the capacity to heal the body, though it seemed going vegan and gluten-free was not enough.

My healing began when I visited an Ayurvedic centre to address the issue. I was educated about my Prakruti (unique mind–body constitution), Vikruti (imbalances) and which foods, activities, and mindset caused and supported the accumulation of this condition and unusual food reactions. In spite of eating vegan and gluten-free foods, exercising regularly, doing daily spiritual practices, and a few colon cleanses, the agni (digestive fire) in my body was weak. This severely impacted my mood, energy, immunity, and endurance.

My direct experience, study, and practice of Ayurveda began. Over time, I realized its intrinsic wisdom of life. Ayurveda addresses each unique person holistically, working with the sacred consciousness of all nature. It also withstood the test of time beyond fad diets and other modern strategies.

By making some changes in my diet and lifestyle, I overcame what might have been diagnosed as a hormonal imbalance. I did not have to take any hormonal pills at all. I also applied the principles of Ayurveda to design a meal and exercise plan for my son. He suffered a bout of anorexia and severe anxiety due to COVID. Within six months, he put on 20 pounds with 15 more to go. He also gained confidence and trust to go out on his own to bike and walk in the rice fields. Ayurvedic principles also helped control my best friend’s rheumatoid arthritis and anxiety within ten months of eating Ayurvedically, exercising for her body type, and meditating daily.

I have indeed been very fortunate to have had several a-ha moments that brought my life to this path. It allowed me to bring my health and well-being to equilibrium and help those closest to me. 

What Ayurveda Can Do For You

Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health and wellness that revolves around the concept of doshas. These three energy types, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, are unique to each individual and can impact both physical and emotional well-being. Balancing the doshas is key to achieving optimal health. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods such as tailored diets, yoga and meditation, and natural remedies to address specific health concerns. Ayurveda also places a strong emphasis on preventive medicine, focusing on maintaining health and preventing illness before it occurs.

When our physical, mental, and emotional states are balanced, we are free to pursue our dharma at our best, serve the world with our talents, and connect with our truest nature. Everything will flow and we are not so easily fazed by bumps and challenges that are a part of this existence. We touch our divinity and that of others. We acquire a deeper understanding and personal knowledge that we are all so much more than this bag of skin and bones surviving on earth. 

I thought I knew who I was and how I could live, yet through the passage of time, more has been revealed.

It was through experiments on diet for his own health and adherence to ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (passive civil disobedience) that Gandhi was able to undertake 18 fasts—some lasting 21 days—to fight for freedom. 

If our health can take us there, what greater possibilities await beyond! 

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8 thoughts on “How Ayurveda Brought Me True Wealth in Health”

  1. I loved reading about the various influences on your own health journey, and particularly the healing power of Ayurveda that you have discovered 🙏🏽

  2. Rosie B. Luistro

    A very well-written article with a subject matter that is of great value – health. It is in the substance of the message herein, enhanced with experience, that one can begin to learn how to discover an easy and effective way to harmonize one’s life.

  3. A very interesting article to help others understand how Ayurveda works. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story.

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