Hey there! Ready for an enlightening article about Ayurveda’s perspective on Covid-19?
PLUS how you can best protect yourself and your loved ones against the pandemic with Ayurveda? You found it.
Today’s blog was written by a local Ayurvedic legend… Meet Cynthia Copple, NAMA Certified Ayurvedic Doctor who’s been in practice for over 37 years. She’s the longest continually practicing Ayurvedic Doctor trained in the U.S. and lives right here in my hometown of Santa Cruz!
Her breakdown about HOW this pandemic came to fruition – according to the laws and perspective of Ayurveda – will enlighten you – it certainly did for me.
Here’s Cynthia’s explanation of Ayurveda, Covid-19, and what you can do to stay safe, healthy, and protected.
The answer I like came from the Ayurvedic masters of 5-10,000 years ago who studied the history of epidemics in India over eons and came up with an answer, which still seems appropriate today. I first studied this in 1982 and never forgot it. This might be a good time to share it.
According to the Vedic texts of India and Ayurveda, epidemics have always been preceded by irregularities of nature–polluted air, earth, water, and improper seasons.
The pollution of air, water, land, and seasons combined with a human immune system weakened by its attempts to cope with the stress and pollution and other things, creates vulnerability to irregular changes.
Seven million people a year were killed by air pollution even before the coronavirus, according to National Geographic.
In Caraka Samhita we read that epidemics are caused by unseasonable weather, excessive dryness, hotness, humidity, polluted air and earth, and water.
In other words, our environment is not “normal” and does not support the normal ecology, so things change. Not always for the better, in the case of epidemics. There is a change, like a new virus, and humans are not strong enough to resist it.
Today we only need to see the blue skies over New Delhi, Wuhan and Los Angeles (due to less air pollution caused by the quarantine from the coronavirus) to realize we have polluted the air. Wildfires in Australia polluted the air worldwide.
Water is polluted in the ground by fracking and chemical runoff from factories, the ocean is polluted by plastic, oil spills, and the waste of centuries dumped into it. Weedkiller kills birds (their eggshells are weak) and upsets the natural balance of predator and prey.
According to Ayurveda, when the natural ecology of the earth is not in balance, the human systems are also out of balance.
And humans’ weakened immune system makes them victims of the unnatural events which occur, like germs, curses, viruses.
How is the immune system compromised? Ayurveda says that Ojas (akin to immunity) is depleted by pollution, by wrong food at the wrong time, by excessive stress, by excessive motion (like commuting by car or train, air travel, excessive exercise).
Also, worry/fear, white-hot anger, fast food, raw and dry food, irregular meals all deplete ojas. Weak digestive fire (agni) caused by wrong diet and everything listed above results in an inability to eliminate toxins properly as well as depletes ojas.
In short, our immunity is poor in large part due to our modern lifestyle.
The stress of worldwide competition for resources, a cultural and economic transition to a robotic world where economic might is in the hands of few and many cannot find meaningful, independent work (small businesses and factories dying out) and polarization of moral systems (we are always right and they are always wrong, creating anger) poisons our immune system.
We feel there is a right and a wrong point of view to fight for, my way or the highway—haves vs. have nots, autocratic leaders vs. those believing in democracy, Democrats vs. Republicans, ecological warriors vs. those who exploit natural resources, and more. There is an internal war going on, and it is killing us from the inside.
Our fight or flight sympathetic nervous system is always “on,” preparing us to fight the lions and tigers of our nightmares. It is exhausting, causing poor sleep, digestion, and low ojas/immunity.
There is also a cause behind the cause, Caraka said—something which we may not quite understand or agree with.
In the Caraka Samhita, a 50 AD compilation of Ayurvedic wisdom and medical knowledge from thousands of years previously, we find that epidemics are correlated with sinful acts of humans. These acts come from past life/DNA combined with present choices.
Caraka says that epidemics are especially common when there is a leader that rules his subjects by sinful means. In the earlier time, the leaders were Indian rajas and rulers of states.
Sin means out of harmony with nature.
Whether or not we have done something sinful as individuals, we all have polluted the earth.
One interesting side note: Caraka says that curses only have an effect on people who have committed sins; others may escape the disastrous effect of the curse. Committing sins—going against nature and our own innate nature — makes us vulnerable to negative energies from others!
The Ayurvedic approach during a pandemic is to make sure your actions are in harmony with nature externally and your own unique nature. This will strengthen your ojas/immune system. It might be a good time to see if you have fallen into bad habits that are not aligned with nature and recommit to a daily routine that supports your health.
This would be a good time to realize we are not separate beings in competition with each other but we are nature, we are all, we are god. And we are here on earth for a short time, so this is an opportunity to wake up and see if we are living and doing our dharma. Dharma is that which we are meant to do, that which we have a passion for, a talent for, a need to express.
A sweeper sweeps, a leader leads. There is no greater or lesser contribution. The dharma that keeps you balanced and gives you energy is the one that is aligned with your nature. Introvert? Write, teach, and support others. Extrovert? Talk and gather with others. Sing if you have the voice, dance if you have the body for it. Work hard and express your nature in everything you do.
To avoid expressing our nature actually reduces ojas and depression may result. What makes your heart sing? This may be the time to start looking for ways to do it, even in your unusual and difficult circumstances. I see the smile on the face of the homeless that are involved in helping other homeless people.
Trust that life will work out the best way it can. We are not in control. Embracing that truth reduces stress.
1–Fear is the greatest force depleting ojas today. Love defeats fear and having compassion for others, volunteering to help others increases your store of love, your feeling of love. When that feeling exists, fear runs away. And your ojas increases.
2–Trust increases ojas. How can we increase trust? We can’t trust that things will never change; they always change. Always. We can’t trust that tomorrow will be better or worse or the same—we don’t know.
What is true is we are not in control and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. And yesterday is just an interpretation, possibly not really true at all. If we embrace that truth and trust that we will meet tomorrow’s challenges tomorrow, focusing today only on this day, this hour, this moment—we will be happy in the moment and fear will have no toehold.
3–Do you remember a time when you felt unconditionally loved? Or can you imagine it? Hold that feeling for a few minutes. Is it there, in your lungs, heart, and guts? Is it warming you? Do you feel safe and secure and loved? Bring up that feeling whenever fear tries to grab you.
4–Remember what you are grateful for. List what you are grateful for before bed. In the morning, write a list of your fears. Get them out of the way. Then proceed through your day doing the best you can. Let tomorrow’s self deal with tomorrow. Today do what you can do.
5–Meditation, breathing practices (pranayama), and yoga. These practices restore the body/mind to factory settings. They melt away the contractions and defenses and tensions and fears stored in the body and mind. Tap into your universal underlying energy body where everything is always okay and fight/flight is on hiatus.
6–Focus your breathing practices on awareness of your lungs. Love them, expand them, feel them, and give them energy. Then they will be in a better position to fight off a virus.
7–If you feel anxiety, ask yourself what you really want, what you really need, and keep asking until your deepest need is uncovered.
8–Eat right. For a virus that attacks the lungs, avoid kapha-producing foods like yogurt, cheese, sweet taste, sugar as well as excessive fruits, avoiding all sweet drinks and smoothies.
Avoid anything cold, raw, overly salty, oily, breads. Eat a healing diet, which you can find in Cynthia’s book, “Know Your Blueprint” and Talya’s book, “The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen.”
The best diet for stressful times and to increase your immunity is an Ayurvedic healing diet, mostly vegetarian, cooked, warm, freshly made, with all six tastes. Nothing too extreme.
9–Eat hot, cooked, soupy foods at the right times, not constantly and without more than a 6-hour gap during the day. See Cynthia’s book to find the interval that would work best for you—not one size fits all!
10–Have a social life, spend time with friends and family. Self-expression is the secret of health, according to Ayurveda. Loneliness depletes ojas and energy.
Choose to be around people who encourage you to be yourself. Know how to set boundaries to protect yourself from people who don’t know better than to criticize you.
Know that no one can take care of you the way you can take care of yourself, but you need others, to give and receive love. Zoom, email, text, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. If all else isn’t available, write in a journal to a friend or to yourself. Your best friend is inside.
Epidemics happen when the earth does not operate naturally when seasons do not follow each other normally, when the air, earth, water are polluted.
And people survive when they live in accordance with their own nature and do not suffer from anxiety, fear, greed, grief, cruelty, anger, etc. When people have spiritual beliefs and live in accordance with their morality and do not do sinful acts, their immune system stays strong.
Cynthia Copple is the author of Know Your Blueprint, The Ayurvedic Secret to Restoring Your Vitality in 30 Days, co-founder and past president of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, and co-founder and past dean of the Mount Madonna Institute of Ayurveda. She’s also director of the Lotus Holistic Health Institute in Capitola, California.
Thank you, Cynthia! You’re a gem in our community. We’re so lucky. – Love, Talya