Healing can be a complex process because there is more to it than just the physical body and the mind. In Ayurveda, life is often described as the combination of Indriyas (the senses), Sarira (the body), Sattva (the mind) and Atman (the soul)1. The way we live and what we consume either balances or unbalances some or all of the aforementioned parts of us – thus, the method of treatment in Ayurveda changes according to what is imbalanced or what is showing signs of disease.
Healing Manasika Rogas, emotional and mental disorders, is known as psychotherapy in conventional medicine. Mental disorders like depression, anxiety, insomnia, phobias, manias and schizophrenia can be included under the term Manasika Roga. This is because when emotions cross the line into the realm of the extreme they can exacerbate existing mental problems.
So when you have a client that comes to you with their own mental/emotional health issues or those of their child or someone they take care of, the first thing to do is a thorough examination of your patient’s Manas Prakriti - basically their personality and character. Next is studying the emotional in’s and out’s of your client, called Manasika Bhavas. This is where questioning how they feel about their family, friends, job, past, present, future and lifestyle is important. Ask them how they respond to fear, anger and embarrassment. What do they consider their biggest accomplishments and their worst failures, and why? What are their regrets? You can also have them keep a daily journal, jotting down how they felt during the day so you can gauge the rise and fall of their emotions. Are they extreme or almost nonexistent? These examinations and questions are essential to correctly recommending practices and Ayurvedic medicines that will have a strong healing effect. Your Samkalpa (spiritual guidance and balanced advice) will be used to help your clients return a state of balance!
Charaka (of the Charaka Samhita) classified healing in Ayurveda into three separate categories: Daivavyapasrya, Yukti Vyapasrya and Sattvavajaya1. We will go into each one in more detail below.
Daivavyapasrya – Faith Therapy
Daiva roughly translates to “the acts of your past life”. This type of healing includes chanting mantras and developing the belief that getting better is possible and the Ayurvedic treatment methods will work. Daivavyapasrya is used to erase negative karma accrued from past lives and heal diseases that stem from that karma, also called Daivakrt diseases1. Any type of prayer method, meditation, self-healing and self-massaging technique or spiritual and religious practices with positive intent can be included under Daiva Vyapasrya.
Yuktivyapasrya – Rational Therapy
- This is the more scientific approach and is the most similar to modern medicine. The root cause(s) of the health problems are reasoned out and then proper diet, daily and seasonal routines and herbal medicines are recommended accordingly based on the principles of Ayurveda. Yuktivyapasrya uses Panca Mahabhuta (the five senses), the three Doshas, and Samanya Visesa (the concept of like attracts like and opposite brings balance). “By the rule of Samanya-Vishesh, a medicine used properly should strengthen the Doshas that have become weak (by its similarities) and at the same time it should reduce the Doshas that are increased out of proportion to cause the imbalance (By its opposite nature). A wise application of Samanya –Vishesh principle is a key component in choosing the most effective plan of treatment that involves food, activities, medicine and other modes like Shodhana (Cleansing of body) or Shamana (palliative approach).”2 Antahparimarjana, internal treatments like Ayurvedic medicines, and Bahihparimarjana, external treatments like abhyanga, are also included under Yuktivyapasrya.
- Sattvavajaya – Non-pharmacological Psychotherapy
Satvavajaya is also included under Antahparimarjana. This form of psychotherapy focuses on balancing Manas Doshas, basically mental constitution and health. While Daivavyapasrya also includes some attention to mental health because of its basis in faith and trust, Satvavajaya is different because it deals with strengthening the control of the mind.
- The practices used in this healing modality focus on stopping negative or materialistic goals (Arthas), negative thoughts (Prajnaparadha) and overindulgence of the senses or contact with violent TV shows, unhealthy food, negative people, etc. (Asatmyendriyartha Samyoga). Mental disease is also caused by Parinama, which covers many things like too much sexual intercourse, violent or disrespectful behavior, avoiding healthy food and activities, fear, vanity, anger, greed, etc.
- As a practitioner, you will focus your efforts on three things: Cintya, thinking positive thoughts, Vicarya, replacing negative beliefs with positive ones, Uhya, thinking positively and logically, and Dhyeya, setting positive goals.
- Simply put, Satvavajaya enables the client to believe in their innate mental ability to overcome imbalanced emotions and mental illness. The practices of Yoga and Pranayama, teaching your client rational thinking and addiction relief therapies are all included under this section of treatment.
Dhriti, patience, will be necessary for both you and your client as you move through the healing process. The Charaka Samhita says that patience is what helps to control the mind and keep your client from reflecting on negativity1 as much as humanly possible!
Herbal Recommendations for Emotional and Mental Health
Chyavanprash – made with a base of Amalaki, this Ayurvedic medicine strengthens digestion while also balancing Pitta Dosha, leading to a greater capacity for patience and positivity. Recommend 1 – 2 teaspoons once or twice a day, depending on severity of problem.
Saraswata Ghritam – heals insomnia and improves memory as well as relieves the symptoms of psychiatric disorders. Recommend 1 – 2 teaspoons once or twice a day, depending on severity of problem.
Saraswata Arishtam - this brain tonic can be included when ghrita is contraindicated in a patient. For example, when Kapha is in excess and a client is obese. Recommend 2 – 4 teaspoons once or twice a day, depending on severity of problem.
Brahmi Capsules – relieves stress and tension while improving concentration and memory. Recommend 1 – 2 tablets once or twice a day, depending on severity of problem.
Brahmi Ghritam – especially useful in Vata types when constipation is present along with anxiety and hyperactivity. Recommend 1 – 2 teaspoons once or twice a day, depending on severity of problem.
Contributing Editor: Dr. JV Hebbar
- Murthy, A. R. V., and R. H. Singh. "The concept of psychotherapy in Ayurveda with special reference to satvavajaya." Ancient science of life4 (1987): 255.
- "Samanya –Vishesh Sidhanta: Principle of Similarity- Dissimilarity." Ayurved Says. N.p., 1 Apr. 2012. Web. 17 Aug. 2016.
The purpose of this article is to provide information about 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 problems please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or e-mail us and we will provide you with our affiliated practitioners. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.