Health is a dynamic balance between the nutrition and waste in the body, a balance between the intake of nutrients and the elimination of toxins. When the nutrition exceeds the wastes, we are doing well with our health. When the toxins and waste exceed the nutrition, we start making the journey from health to disease.
The 15 indicators of health can be self-monitored on a daily basis. When we begin to notice symptoms in any area, it’s time to assess what is happening with the four pillars of health - diet, lifestyle, sleep, and management of energy - that is affecting the balance of the doshas and state of agni. In this way we can make adjustments (independently or with the help of a practitioner) to clear the symptoms and maintain “good space” so that we can live free of physical and mental distractions and pain.
THE 15 INDICATORS
This is hunger of the body, which is different from cravings of the mind. The physical feeling of hunger will vary depending on the individual. Hunger is typically felt about every 4 - 8 hours, depending on whether a person is eating 2 or 3 meals per day.
One will feel light within a couple hours of eating if they are digesting well, as well as energetic and mentally alert. There won’t be lethargy, bloating, or other digestive problems.
One will eliminate at least once a day and it will float. Ideally it would happen easily upon waking in the morning.
Generally 4 -6 times during the daytime (and not during the night) is appropriate for a healthy person. Color will typically be light yellow.
There will be some sweat every day, especially during exercise, when physically active, or in hot climates or seasons.
The nasal passage will be clear of congestion, and other symptoms. The sense of smell will be good.
The mouth and lips are clear of thick coating on the tongue, cold sores, canker sores, and other symptoms.
The eyes will be free from excess water or dryness, redness on the sclera, and other symptoms.
The skin will be free from inflammation, excess dryness, acne, and other symptoms.
The ears will be free from dryness, itchiness, excess ringing, and other symptoms.
COLOR AND TEXTURE OF THE SKIN
The skin naturally changes as we age, however sudden or significant changes in texture, color, or amount of wrinkles indicates imbalance.
Freedom from illness year round indicates strong immunity, which reflects balanced health. Fever, cold, and diarrhea are the first indicators of a deeper internal problem.
FALL ASLEEP IMMEDIATELY AFTER GOING TO BED AT NIGHT
Easy sleep, without external aids, including supplements, books, or television.
WAKE UP FEELING ALERT AND REFRESHED
Waking up feeling rested and energetic rather than lethargic and wanting to sleep more.
A HAPPY, CONTENT MIND
Peaceful, content, happy mind throughout the day, free from stress and distress. An unhappy, stressed mind reflects on the body systems, including the nervous, digestive, and elimination systems among others. It affects metabolism and sleep, and many of the other indicators listed above.
Start to pay attention to these indicators in your life, daily or weekly, as a reference point to the state of your health and longevity. When you notice one of the indicators is not going well, for example you are having digestive symptoms of gas, bloating, heartburn, or belching throughout the day, make the necessary adjustment if it is clear to you what that is, such as leaving a minimum of four hours between meals to allow the digestive process time to do its work on the previous food before adding more food in, or bring consciousness to chewing each bite thoroughly before swallowing so that it is adequately mixed with digestive enzymes and ready for the stomach to process it.
A general guideline to reduce symptoms and enhance health is to simplify. Rest, including thinking less, speaking less, doing less, and simplifying the diet to easily digested, cooked foods. When the system is rested, the body activates its innate healing capacity.
Or, meet with your practitioner to find out what is causing the symptoms and how to make adjustments in diet, lifestyle, and mental state to support health while still allowing you to participate in life in ways that are important to you.
Making changes to diet and lifestyle can sometimes feel scary. But, it doesn’t have to be scary and should not feel like it is depriving you of engaging in a full, vibrant, joyous experience of life. Rather, continuous adaptation to work within a framework of principles that support optimum health allows for the vitality to be present and enthusiastic in the beautifully varied experiences that unfold as part of the human journey. This is where Ayurveda truly takes the turn of being an art in addition to a science, and we get to participate in the painting of our life experience.