The Ayurvedic view of Love

Ayurveda is the science of life, and what would life be without love?

There are many different types of love. The three main ones are; love of oneself (self-love), love of another person (romantic love), and pure love (divine love) which is the universal love that transcends everything.

But without self-love (self-care), romantic love, divine love or any other kind of love will be almost impossible to achieve.

What is love?

Love is commitment.

Love is devotion.

Love is compassion.

Love doesn’t have an agenda. It isn’t about attachment or ownership, lust or infatuation.

Love is honest and pure, and that’s the way it should be given and received.

Love never comes with strings attached.

Does that sound like some unrealistic, ‘pie in the sky’ idea of what love should be, rather than what it truly is in ‘the real world’? It isn’t.

When you think about the philosophy behind Ayurveda, the importance of balance in achieving and maintaining perfect physical, mental, and spiritual health, consider the essential role the doshas play in keeping our mind and body fit and well.

As we discussed in the last few blogs, the doshas are the biological forces that what keep our constitution in balance, and the maha gunas are the psychological forces that keep both our mind, and the rest of the universe, in balance. When we understand how our doshas and maha gunas interact with each other, we gain a complete picture of our mind-body-energy state.

But love is both a physical and emotional condition, which means our doshas play an important part in it too.

Today, let’s take a closer look at self-love, why it’s important, and how practicing an Ayurvedic lifestyle can help you attain it.

Why is self-love so essential?

When I talk about self-love, I don’t mean ‘arrogance’ or ‘narcissism’ or ‘being so full of confidence that you think you are better than anyone else.’ Those are three perfect examples of what self-love isn’t.

Self-love is taking the very best care of yourself possible. It’s about eating correctly, exercising properly, having enough sleep, and staying mindful and in-tune with yourself, the universe, and the world around you. It’s all the positive things you do (or should do) throughout the day, every day, to stay healthy, happy, calm, rested and strong.

When we practice self-love/self-care, we’re putting ourselves first, but not in a selfish way. If you’ve ever travelled on an aeroplane, you’ll be familiar with the demonstration they give you as the plane takes off, about what to do in the unlikely circumstance there’s an emergency.

Among the first things they tell you is to put the oxygen mask and life jacket on yourself before attempting to help anyone else. In a very basic way, that’s what self-love and self-care is doing.

That famous rhetorical question, “How can you love someone else if you can’t love yourself?” isn’t the cliché that many people make it out to be. That’s because practicing self-care is essential to achieving balance and, when we’re in balance, we’re naturally keeping the pathways open for all other types of love to come in.

Or think about it this way: How can you reach your full potential and give the very best of yourself – not just to others, but to yourself too – if you don’t treat yourself with love, care, kindness and compassion?

Buddha once said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Think about that for a minute.

Practicing self-care

I spend a lot of time talking and writing about the importance of diet, exercise, rest and sleep; the right types of foods to eat (according to your dosha), the best forms of exercise to take, the optimum times of day to rest, be active and consume your meals.

You’ll find all that advice in my previous blogs, so I won’t repeat myself today. If there’s anything you can’t find, or any questions you’d like to ask me, please get in touch and I’ll do my very best to help.

For now, I’d like to talk about a kind of self-care that’s often overlooked, but the quote from Buddha may have given you a clue as to what it is.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

When was the last time you showed yourself affection?

As human beings, we spend a lot of our time not feeling good enough.

Most of us are programmed to feel that way since childhood, often by parents and teachers who keep pushing us to achieve more and never settle for second best, not realising the damage that does to our unconscious.

As we get older, that sense we’re not good enough is reinforced by the ‘perfect people’ we see everyday on television, magazines, and on our social media.

We look at those around us and wonder why we don’t have what they have (never stopping to realise that they may be looking at us, wondering the same thing.)

We look in the bathroom mirror and we don’t see what the rest of the world sees. Instead, we just see the imperfections we’re unhappy about.

And, no matter how hard we’ve worked during the day, you’re probably just as familiar with criticising yourself and saying, “I could have done better”, as I am.

Are you so critical and unkind about anyone else?

Probably not. And if you ever saw or heard someone say the kinds of things about another person that you regularly say to yourself, I bet you’d have a very low opinion of them.

Practicing self-care is as much about practicing self-compassion as it is about following all the other ‘practical rules’ of an Ayurvedic lifestyle.

It’s about being aware that we’re already beautiful enough, rich enough, and loveable enough, and that we have everything we need, right now, in this moment.

If we ever need more, the universe will provide it.

One of the great things about showing kindness to yourself, and feeling gratitude for what you already are and have, is that you’ll naturally draw more opportunity and positivity towards you.

That’s because your doshas and your maha gunas will be in total cooperation with each other.

In the same way that you’d correct a pitta imbalance by eating cooler foods to reduce heat, showing yourself compassion is unblocking channels and connecting yourself to your full potential, and the potential of the universe.

Where to start?

Here’s something very simple that you can do every day, and with regular practice you should quickly begin to feel its benefits.

Look at your reflection in the mirror (a full-length mirror is best.) Observe every part of yourself, from your head down to your toes, and don’t judge anything you see.

Now, look at each part of you with gratitude and acceptance. Love what you see.

If you feel critical of anything, look at that part more closely and send it more affection.

See the uniqueness in you and realise how perfect you already are. We are all here for a reason, and as the old saying goes, “this life isn’t a rehearsal.”

Living an Ayurvedic lifestyle, practicing self-love and surrounding yourself to the flow of life instead of resisting it and swimming against the current, will bring every other kind of love into your life.

We’ll talk about Ayurveda and romantic love next time.

Until then, to your enduring health and happiness in Ayurveda.