+ What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a system of preventive medicine and healthcare that developed in India more than 5,000 years ago. The word Ayurveda comes from Ayus (life) and Veda (knowledge or science in Sanskrit, and translates to “the science of life.” Ayurveda offers practical tools, insights, and information for living in balance and health, without interference from illness.

+ Is Ayurveda a form of holistic medicine?

Yes. Ayurveda is a healing system that treats the whole person – the body, mind, and spirit – because people are more than a collection of individual symptoms. Stress damages our immune system, for example. When the immune system is weakened we are more vulnerable to disease and illness. Likewise, our brain releases healing chemicals to our entire body when our mind experiences pleasure, promoting health by creating feelings of happiness and well-being.

Going deeper, Ayurveda treats people not as isolated individuals, but as a critical, unique, and irreplaceable part of the very world around us. The ancient Vedic tradition explains that there is an underlying intelligence that flows through and connects everyone and everything in the universe. Ayurveda sees life as the exchange of energy and information between individuals and their extended body, which is the environment. We thrive in nourishing environments and we become sick in toxic environments. Consider how many articles are dedicated to dealing with a toxic relationship at work, with friends, or within the family. Learning how to recognize and remove ourselves from toxicity within a healing environment is vital to healthy lives in full.

+ How is Ayurveda different from conventional Western medicine?

While conventional Western medicine isolates the differences among various diseases, Ayurveda focuses on how wellness and illness is expressed or manifested in an individual. Treatment plans to address illness are based ideally on an understanding of an individual’s unique mind-body constitution or dosha. In order to determine how diet, physical activities, or medications will offer the most help - and avoid harm - an Ayurvedic doctor must first understand a patient’s dosha.

In addition, while Western medicine treats the symptoms of disease as separate components of the system, Ayurveda seeks to eliminate illness by treating the underlying cause systemically. Rather than prescribing medication first, an Ayurvedic doctor examines root imbalances that lead to illness. By considering lifestyle, activities, diet, recent stressful events, beliefs, and mind-body constitution, the Ayurvedic practitioner recommends a treatment plan taking all of these factors into account.

Ayurveda is not opposed to psychopharmacology. Rather, it provides us with a framework for how medication and other treatments (including Ayurvedic treatments) can be used together, in harmony, to create superior outcomes. The principle focus of Ayurveda is employing healing methods or approaches that restore health and balance. These resources might include herbal remedies, changes in dietary habits, pharmaceutical medications, meditation, mindfulness practices, exercise, and psychotherapy. For this reason, Ayurveda is an invaluable complementary approach to therapy.

+ What are mindfulness practices?

Over the millennia, masters of many healing traditions have learned, practiced, and taught exercises in mindfulness. These practices are a form of meditation to help an individual achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This enables the relaxed mind to refocus on the present moment. The ability to exercise control over one’s awareness and potential reactions is crucial to maintain presence and, in time, overcome psychological suffering.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD introduced the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. The program is an eight-week course that offers a set and sequence of practices that encapsulate the essence of the Zen mindfulness tradition. More than 100 randomized control studies support the MBSR program’s efficacy in a wide range of psychiatric and medical conditions.

I had the good fortune to study directly with Dr. Kabat-Zinn.

+ Do I need to be interested in Ayurveda or Mindfulness practice to benefit from Intuitive Psychiatry?

No. We offer a full spectrum of both Western and complementary treatments. There are many treatment options available for a variety symptoms. What is more important is that we understand your unique values, preferences, and strengths to design a personalized treatment approach that’s right for you.

+ What is integrative mental health?

Integrative mental health (IMH) is the combined use of psychiatry and alternative, complementary healing arts. IMH, with psychiatry at its core, provides the best chance to attain wellness for both the body and the mind.

+ How can I learn more?

I invite you to review the blog and resource links provided.

You may also connect with Intuitive Psychiatry to learn more.