The Gerson Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine

Scott Gerson, M.D., Ph.D. (Ayurveda) Medical Director, Jupiter Medical Center Dept. of Integrative Medicine Division of Education and Research

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Mary Clinic, Gerson Ayurvedic Spa, and Panchakarma Facility: at 635 Primera Blvd. Lake Mary, Florida 32746

Jupiter Medical Center at The Calcagnini Center for Mindfulness
1210 S. Old Dixie Highway, Jupiter, Florida 33458, Suite M-117.2

 

 

 

 Telephone: (561) 263-MIND (6463); option 2 (407) 549-2800

Ayurvedic Living: Trayopastambha

Lifestyle is simply the way in which a person lives. More specifically, a lifestyle is a distinguishing group of behaviors adopted by a person which is recognizable by others and by oneself as defining one’s priorities and understanding of what is important and not important in life. A lifestyle includes one’s social group, mode of dress, general diet, kinds of entertainment, language characteristics, and livelihood. A person’s lifestyle is also the habits, customs, and the manner in which one performs common daily activities of living. Our lifestyle is often an accurate reflection of our deepest values, attitudes, prejudices, moral standards, economic approach, and personal philosophy. Sometimes a person’s individual “philosophy” cannot even be verbally articulated but it is clearly conveyed by one’s lifestyle.

Doctrine of Trayopastambha

Ayurveda places great emphasis on paying attention to many aspects of one’s lifestyle in order to maintain health. Of these, three are seen as so important that they are given their own independent term: trayopastambha, or three pillars of health. These three aspects of one’s lifestyle are said to be so vital in creating one’s positive or negative state of health that they are analogous to the three strong pillars upon which the entire structure of life rests. The trayopastabha of Ayurveda are:

  • Ahara (proper nutrition)
  • Nidra (proper sleep)
  • Brahamacarya (proper sexual behavior)

It is clear that the impulse to seek out food, to sleep, and to procreate are instinctive and are found in all forms of sentient life. What differentiates mankind from all other life forms is his capacity to observe these instincts arising and not only be aware of them but also to exert control over them. Being supported by the instinctive three pillars of health and regulating them according to reason, the mind and body become strong, vibrant, resistant to disease, and long-lived. It is said that properly observed, no other health regimen is required other than the trayopastambha, as long as the individual does not abuse himself in serious ways. The benefits of the trayopastambha come when all three are correctly observed though they have separate modes of action. Ahara is brimhana (nourishing); Nidra is abhiradha (preserving); and brahmacarya is utpadana (creative, generative). Together they form a strong foundation for a long, happy and fruitful life. In addition, one should also follow the recommendations of dinacharya.

In Sanskrit the daily routine is known as "Dinacharya". It means to merge your daily cycle with the natural cycle of the Sun, Moon, Earth and the other universal rhythms. Dinacharya is one of the best things that you can do to stay in balance, prevent disease and follow as a support for the treatment almost any disease.

One way to describe the daily cycle is in terms of the doshas. "Vata", the air element, "Pitta", the fire element and "Kapha", the water element. "Vata" is dominant from 2 to 6 in the morning and afternoon. "Kapha" is from 6 to 10 in the morning and evening, and "Pitta" is during mid day and midnight. Stay mindful of these energies during the day and move with them, not against them by observing the following recommended activities.

  • Waking From 2 to 6 the "Vata" element is dominant. The ideal time to arise is around 4:30 to 5:30. This is the time when there is the most sattva in the atmosphere. It is the most fresh and pure time of the day. Some exceptions to this rule of rising are the very young, the old, parents with small children and people with fevers or diarrhea.
  • Remember (Smriti) Take a moment to remember your true nature. Remember what you are. Recognize and honor That.
  • Prana Take a short stroll outside and experience the five elements as they are in Nature.
  • Elimination As soon as possible empty your colon and bladder. If you wait until later in the morning or during the day you are slowly poisoning yourself and creating an opportunity for chronic conditions to arise.
  • Cleanse The Sense Organs Wash the eyes with rose water and triphala jala (triphala cold infusion) to purify the sight. Wash your ears and apply a tiny amount of sesame or almond oil in them to purify your hearing. Brush your teeth and scrape your tongue with a tongue cleaner to purify your mouth and sense of taste. Tooth powder made from both bitter and fragrant herbs are used to clean the teeth (i.e. neem, khadir, babool, ela, twak, tejpat). Gargle with warm water or an astringent herbal tea. Finally do "jal-neti" followed by a few drops of oil in your nose to purify the sinuses and your sense of smell. The traditional dinacharya also recommends that you inhale the smoke of medicinal herbs (i.e. tulsi, jatamansi) every morning to purify the mind, head, face, neck and lungs.
  • Oil Massage A major part of aging is the drying out of tissue that results in slower transport of nutrients into the cell and body and toxic wastes out of the body. Oil massage removes this dryness, removes stagnated substances, and nurtures your mind and your body. It also makes your skin youthful and radiant. Ayurveda places special emphasis on massage of the head and feet.Exercise "Vyayama" is the sanskrit word for physical exercise. This can be anything including "Yoga", walking, tai chi, a swim or whatever suits you. This early morning exercise removes lethargy in the body mind, strengthens the digestive fire, promotes excretion of wastes, increases endurance, reduces fat and gives you an overall feeling of lightness and joy. The Ayurvedic guideline for the amount and intensity of exercise is that one should never exercise to more than half of his/her capacity (ardhashakti vyayama).
  • Bathing (Snana) After exercise bath to remove any excess oil and dirt. Usually warm water baths are suggested, but do not put very warm water o the neck and head, as this will throw you off balance. Bathing increases the digestive fire, especially if the water is a little cold. Put on clean clothing after the bath and apply essential oils as you wish.
  • Meditation For a few minutes to an hour sit down and see who you really are, remove the focus from any single object and rest your attention in pure awareness. Simply be quiet. Sit in peace for just a little while (15-30 minutes).
  • Breakfast Eat a light breakfast. Western science has studied the aging process for some time and, to its credit, has at least recognized one practice that is definitely anti-aging: reduce excess calories while maximizing nutrients.
  • Lunch (11:30 to 12:30) This is the main meal of the day so eat a healthy nutritious meal that has moderate calories. After the meal it is good to take a little walk, a couple hundred steps only, to help the food digest.
  • Sundown Sundown (goraj muhurta, “time of the cow dust”) is a special time of balance between day and night. This is the time for evening prayers and meditations in many cultures around the world.
  • Dinner (6:00 to 7:00) This meal should be lighter than lunch and before the sun completely sets. After dinner take a peaceful walk with family and friends.
  • EveningFrom dinner to bedtime just take it easy. Spend time with family, read, and relax.
  • Bedtime Around 10:00 go to sleep so that you can get a minimum 7 hours of sleep before 5:30 am. A good practice is to massage the soles of your feet with calming oil before going to bed. This will calm your system and promote well being.

Vedic Health Care: Knowing the Truth

"Ayu" means life and "Veda" means knowledge from the Vedic texts. This holistic science is the knowledge of complete balance of the Body, Mind and Spirit, including emotions and psychology, on all levels. Ayurveda includes in its consideration, longevity, rejuvenation and self-realization therapies through herbs, diet, exercise, yoga, aromas, tantras, mantras, and meditation.

It is said to have originated from Lord Brahma (Creator of the Universe, according to Indian mythology) and descended to the earth through various generations of gods and saints. The sage-physician-surgeons of the time were the same sages or seers, deeply devoted holy people, who saw health as an integral part of spiritual life. It is said that they received their training of Ayurveda through direct cognition during meditation. In other words, the knowledge of the use of various methods of healing, prevention, longevity and surgery came through Divine revelation (Cosmic Intelligence); there was no guessing or testing and harming animals. These revelations were transcribed from the oral tradition into book form, interspersed with the other aspects of life and spirituality.

The original ancient Ayurvedic scholars also comprehended a true method to study and fully understand Ayurveda. The Vedic Way to study and understand Ayurveda is the same Vedic Way one takes to study life itself.

The Vedas describe life as a series of experiences. Each experience can be seen as the fundamental unit of life. It may be overwhelming to try to understand life as a whole, but by understanding each experience, one can, therefore, understand life itself.

Every experience has three components: (1) an experiencer, (2) an object of experience, and (3) the experience itself.

  • The experiencer is you.
  • The object of the experience can be any stimulus or environmental influence, e.g. a sight, a sound, a thought, a material object, a circumstance, a situation, a person, etc.
  • The experience is the interaction between the experiencer and the object.

An experience takes place only with all three components.

The Vedic approach to understand each experience is threefold:

  • Sravanam (receiving Truth),
  • Mananam (contemplating Truth), and
  • Nidhidhyasanam (absorbing Truth)

These are the three aspects of the study and understanding Ayurveda. It is from this approach that Ayurveda derives its name, for it is a true path for learning the meaning of life. Every popular book written by the burgeoning numbers of uninitiated Ayurvedic ‘authors’ translates the term Ayurveda as “knowledge or science (ved) of life (ayu).” However it is clear that very few individuals realize the profound meaning of this appellation.

Sravanam can be achieved through exposure to the primary Ayurvedic scriptures or other numinous literature and through the teachings of knowledgeable professors.

Mananam can be individual or through discussion and debate with other students of Ayurveda.

Nidhidhyasanam can be approached through a specific form meditation, sometimes referred to as reflection, which allows the truthful understanding to become absorbed Only by absorbing Truth, can one truly understand these principles and put them to use.

It is not necessary to approach sravanam, mananam, and nidhidhyasanam in a serial order (i.e. one after the other), but rather one can incorporate different levels of each throughout one's study of Ayurveda. We can constantly aspire to incorporate all three in our studies and in our lives and perhaps glimpse the same truths as did the ancient Vedic seers.

Here is a brief example of how this approach to learning Ayurveda is used. In the first year of Ayurvedic medical school there is a course known simply as “Charaka”—which is the study of the textbook known as the Charaka Samhita. It is the equivalent of Harrison’s Textbook of Medicine for western medical students, who memorize the myriad of facts and figures in its pages. However, the Charaka Samhita is used in quite a different manner.

Sloka (short passage) from Chapter entitled Sarirasthanam 1/19: "Anutvam chaikatvam Gunou manasou smritam."

Translation: “Atomic dimension and indivisible unity Are the two qualities of mind”

Students are asked to read the entire chapter, but reflect on this particular sloka everyday. There are discussions of each students experience.

Ayurveda is an ancient science of life, a traditional and the oldest and most holistic medical system available on the planet today. Its major premise involves the symbiosis of mind, body and spirit. Any imbalance in this synthesis results in physical ailments. This ancient Indian medicine seeks to reestablish the harmony between the mind, body and its environment. It was placed in written form over 5,000 years ago in India, and was said to be a world medicine dealing with both body and the spirit. Before the advent of writing, the ancient wisdom of this healing system was a part of the spiritual oral tradition of the Vedic tradition. This has been handed down to us by means of ancient venerable scripts as palm leaf books, leather leaves, etc. The oldest works in Ayurveda still available are the Charaka Samhita, Sushuta Samhita and Ashtanga Samgraha, among others.