This list was originally shared by Ayurvedic practitioner Nidhi Pandya with Mindbodygreen. Ayurveda is an alternative medicine system with historical roots in India and Nepal, where around 80% of the population report using it. One particular man laid on his deathbed with over 35 members of his family gathered around him to say goodbye.
His granddaughter reports that despite his old age, he still had most all his dark hair, and a heart that functioned like a teenager's. His heart was full, and she could see the fulfillment on his face. Even his doctors were amazed. But his granddaughter wasn't; she knew that it was all thanks to the Ayurvedic principles he lived by.
These principles helped him counteract the typical struggles that plague us when we age, and live his life to its fullest potential.
Passing It On
The family lived in Mumbai, where the grandfather "Bapuji" volunteered at hospitals with low hygiene standards. He put his own health at risk to make lonely patients ad someone to talk and everyone got free medicine. He kept up this tradition even in his 90s despite there being no elevators, or cane to support the seven flights of stairs he needed to walk up. His granddaughter explains: "He had trust in his body's ability to protect itself, and in the 30 years of these visits, he never once caught something."
That's why on the 14th anniversary of his death, she wanted to honor his memory by sharing the principles of Ayurvedic life that inspired her with everyone, so that we may also maximize our health and capacity to help each other and live fulfilling lives.
Timing When To Wake Up
Bapuji's alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. She explains that his alarm "often interrupted my REM sleep, as he slept on a floor mattress in a room with my four sisters and me. ("Sleeping close to the ground keeps me grounded," he'd joke.)
He woke up at Brahma Mahurat, the hours between 4:30 and 5:20, to take advantage of theta brain wave patterns, tap into the subconscious mind, self-reflect, and alter brain chemistry in the morning. He believed that a man who wakes up early sees more of the world and remains inspired to make good of his life."
Eating In Moderation
Despite being in great shape, Bapuji never deprived himself of anything but rather accepted that his body was always shifting. Rather than jump from diet to diet, he ate an Ayurvedically balanced diet, and never gave up any particular food item as long as he ate it in moderation. He would eat every bite slowly and mindfully, to fully be able to enjoy it.
"Breakfast was always warm to offset the cool, dewy environment morning brings. All meals were vegetarian, fresh, warm, well-spiced, and cooked in ghee. Mung lentils were an essential part of the dinner for the entire family, and he made sure to educate all of us on the importance of shifting foods as the seasons shifted."
The Power of Family
Unfortunately, Bapuji's wife died when he was just 50 years old, sentencing him to 40 years of singlehood. Yet, he never felt lonely. While it's a natural craving to want human connection, Nidhi explains that they all lived in a joint family system "with his three sons, three daughters-in-law, and seven grandchildren, including me."
While he technically could dictate all decisions in the household as the head of the home, he passed on the torch to his sons to distance himself from worldly matters. " He compassionately witnessed each one's journey and led by example. As a result, not only was he dearly loved and respected, but he remained stress-free in a parasympathetic mode so his body could continually repair and heal," she adds.
Athashakti: "According To One's Ability"
We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves but there is a difference between having a vision and working towards it, and simply going through the motions. The first one requires discipline and flexibility, while the latter is not a way to live. Bapuji believed in the principle of Yathashakti, which means "according to one's ability." He believed that "a balanced life is not a rigid prescription but should happen in a state of flow. 'If it disturbs your flow, drop the practice,' he'd say.
" The purpose of his life was to move away from charge and toward flow." Remaining in a state of flow doesn't mean not doing anything, it simply means controlling only what you can and accepting the rest.
Being Self Succient
Bapuji had a lot of staff and a big family but he didn't rely on them to do his tasks or to cook for him. He preferred to hand wash his own clothes and mop his own room.
'He believed that a person's self-worth depends on how self-sufficient they can be. Once someone becomes overly dependent on others, they lose confidence, and aging speeds up," he'd say. While there is no harm in asking for support, with it sometimes being necessary, there is a real sense of accomplishment and opportunities to grow when we take our lives into our own hands.
Bapuji practiced yoga and exercised as part of his daily routine, even in his old age. "He maintained that its true purpose was to regulate organ secretions, soothe the nervous system, stimulate the endocrine glands, and change the body's electromagnetic field," explains Nidhi.
All 14 members of the family were inspired to adopt a strong practice too of Ayurvedic Principles like their grandfather and perhaps you should be too.
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