Three Pillars of Healthy Life & Skin
The three pillars of life form the foundation of Ayurveda. According to the ancient Ayurvedic text Caraka Samhita, proper management of these three pillars guarantees a full and healthy life, free from disease. These pillars consist of the proper management of food and digestion, sleep, and sexual restraint (known as brahmacharya in Sanskrit).
The key to reaching our body's full potential is through the proper management of these three pillars.
Proper digestion is of utmost importance, as it allows our bodies to extract all the nutrients and life energy (prana) from the food we eat. Ayurveda emphasizes that proper digestion involves several levels, including agni (digestive fire), dhatus (organs and tissues involved), ojas (immunity level for both physical and mental health), and ama (toxins). The end result of proper digestion is the production of ojas, a subtle energy that protects both our body and mind from diseases.
To achieve proper digestion, it is essential to consume the ideal foods for one's constitution and to eat them properly. Improper food choices or combining can lead to disturbances in bodily tissues, interfering with the formation of ojas, potentially creating toxins, and eventually leading to disease. Therefore, proper digestion is essential to maintaining good health.
The second pillar of life is Sleep, which is crucial for maintaining overall well-being. During sleep, the body utilizes its energy to heal and repair damage accumulated during waking hours. Inadequate sleep prevents the body from repairing damage caused by stress and strain, leading to breakdown.
Both too little and too much sleep are unhealthy. Insufficient sleep upsets the Vata dosha and causes weakness, while excessive sleep disturbs the Kapha dosha, leading to congestion and heaviness. Therefore, it is important to get an appropriate amount of sleep that is suitable for one's constitution. This will allow the body to heal and repair itself while maintaining balanced energies (doshas).
The third pillar of life is Brahmacharya, which has several interpretations. The most common understanding is that it pertains to properly managing sexual energy. Sexual energy is the foundation for producing ojas (the protective force), and therefore preserving it is essential for maintaining good health. However, the term can also be translated as "not wandering away from God."
The practice of sexual restraint, as taught by Vedic teachings, is not rooted in judgment or the threat of eternal damnation. Rather, it is a practical approach for those seeking enlightenment and for individuals seeking a return to health. For those who are ill, sexual release is believed to reduce the energy available for healing the body and mind, while indulging in sexual activities weakens both the body and mind.
By properly managing the three pillars of life, individuals can enjoy a long and healthy life. Understanding the value of proper nutrition, sufficient sleep and rest, and appropriate energy management can help us pay closer attention to what, how, and when we eat and how we manage our energy levels.