In India, everything is an opportunity to be reminded of our psycho-spiritual connection to source. Everything is an opportunity for ceremony. Even the treatment table for Ayurvedic oil massage is shaped like a temple yoni.
Ayurveda recognizes the interconnection of all things. It gently teaches us that the mental constructs we hold affect our health as strongly as the medicines we take and the as food we eat.
When Vagbhata, author of the classical Ayurvedic text Ashtanga Hrdayam, wants to remind us to eat right and take care of ourselves, he tells us poetically. He tells us to imbibe of only that which is pathya -- meaning, that which is healthy, or 'suitable'--and avoid apathya-- 'unsuitable' stimuli. Just prior to this line, he's been talking about food and drink, so it is clear to the reader that he's implying food. By choosing the broader terms pathya vs. apathya, he is implicitly implying that he means more than just what is on the plate.
Vagbhata asks us to contemplate our general consumption. In asking that our choices be 'suitable,' he gives us a picture of nourishment beyond a rulebook of right and wrong. Instead, he wants us to contemplate our individual needs: the season, place, even our personal preference. He wants us to investigate what we eat with our minds and hearts as well as our tongues, but he graciously leaves it up to us to draw the lines outward without dogma.
What are we eating, metaphorically speaking? At home? At work? What are we eating for pleasure? Can we digest what is offered on television, radio, the book on our nightstand? What about our relationships, family dynamics, the feeling quality at dinnertime. Every sensory stimulation in our daily routine makes up our diet.
Ayurveda asks us to live in accord with Nature and points us toward self-reflection, but it does so in the most spacious and gentle way. It shows us a picture of personal health integrating activities body, speech and mind.