Deepak Chopra wrote Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide from the perspective of a hybrid of Ayurveda and western medicine, but the wisdom in it reminds me of my dear grandmother. Ayurveda, according to Wikipedia, is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent. My grandma always told me that my body would tell me what it needed, if I listened closely enough. I’d forgotten completely about that, obviously, over the years of cubicle-sitting and heavy occupational grindage.
Now that I’ve moved beyond being defined by my occupation and am again seeking health, I found this book enlightening at the same time it brought back a lot of her wisdom – she was Christian and very much Western, showing that knowledge of the heart doesn’t come from a particular place on the globe.
Perfect Health: On Disease
Unhappiness is a warning.
Unhappiness indicates that action is needed to avoid disease in the future.page 95
What a thought! I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been surprised by illness. There’s clearly a pattern to when I get sick – usually it’s on a Friday, out of universal irony or because of some mental mechanism saying “okay, you can feel your unhealth now”. But now, looking at all my mental troubles as warnings of imminent illness, I’m slowly becoming more aware of how much disease is as much a social as a physical phenomenon.
Disease is accumulated.
Disease comes from accumulation of bad food, bad sleep, negative emotions, and physical or mental strain.page 114
You have to work yourself in and out of ill health; there’s no sudden moves. Also, healing is a matter of cleansing.
Your body knows how to fix itself.
Nature has already given us proper instincts for recovering and maintaining balance. Ayurveda principles serve to uncover and sharpen those instincts.page 121
This is the one that really struck me. My body already knows how to heal! All those times I’ve looked online to find a quick cure for some nagging thing, the profundity of spirit within me could have lead me back to wholeness.
Music, life style changes, smells, and much more can heal.
Anything can be used as medicine if you know the patient well enough.page 191
In order to become ill, your body has to let the virus or bacteria propagate within you – which is an unusual event. Pharmacology is just a single path to wholeness.
When we took our birthing class in preparation of my son, the instructor told us that “the more interventions you get from doctors, the more you will need to get.” I’ve used that mental justification a thousand times since to avoid going to the doc, so the idea that drugs and surgeries are a last resort is a welcome thought.
Perfect Health: On The Mind
Imperfection comes from attachment.
If you can let go of imperfection, perfection will appear by itself.page 149
Our thoughts and perceptions guide our manifestation. That is, our way of being in the world is a reflection of our way of seeing the world.
Quieting the mind releases attachment.
The silence of pure awareness is extremely refreshing to the mind, which finds it increasingly easy not to cling to old thought patterns; rigid ways of thinking and feeling begin to fall away of their own accord.page 161
You know I had to encourage you to meditate in discussing this book. 🙂
Your focus determines your path.
Whatever we put our attention on becomes stronger in our lives.page 175
This is the idea behind affirmations, positive statements of intent you do (preferably) out loud, in meditation, and/or as you go to sleep.
Addiction starts with dissatisfaction.
We hold that the source for addiction is a search for satisfaction.page 200
Addiction comes from over-attachment to pleasure (which is very different than happiness). We become addicted when we try to substitute pleasure for happiness.
Addiction is clotting of negativity.
The vital thing for you to realize is that this negativity is not you. It is the result of physical and mental ama that has been built up over time.page 210
Your essential self is untouched by addiction. It is happy, free, above all problems, and at peace. Once you begin to touch this true self of yours, everything will work out. Be patient and allow yourself to emerge in freedom.page 211
These are very profound, if you reflect on them. You have only been dirtied by your addictions, not corrupted. When we become slaves to demons (totally not a Deepak thought, this is all me), they cannot lodge within us at the level of our souls.
Living is knowing.
You are a knower, your body is the object you form with your knowledge, and the millions of cellular functions taking place inside you are the process of knowing.page 217
I’m still coming to terms with this. My body is a creation of my mind.
Perfect Health: On the Body
There is no perfect diet for everyone.
Ayurveda says that there are no absolutely good or bad foods, only food that is good or bad for you.page 294
After trying multiple diets that were highly reviewed, I’d come to this conclusion myself – what works for one person may not work for another. This is a good thing to vegetarians to remember when dealing with meat-eaters (and the other way around, too).
There is no perfect exercise routine for everyone.
If you get only one benefit from Ayurveda’s approach to exercise, it should be that “no pain, no gain” is a myth.page 319
That’s damn right. Too many people work on their bodies out of pride, rather than as a way of communing with this physical world.
Obviously, I highly recommend Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide, Revised and Updated Edition for everyone who is unfamiliar with Ayurveda. Springing out of this, on top of the recommendations from Chopra, I’ve discovered a new interest in traditional Indian cooking (I intend to give my chef skills a try with it) and of course a new perspective on the attachments I’ve formed over the years – both in terms of bodily health and in terms of other ways I’m manifesting. There’s a reason this book has been so successful, it’s merited.
Keep on keeping on,