Ayurveda - Exploring solutions in Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

Ayurveda - Exploring solutions in Sri Lanka

Ayurveda is a Sri Lanka must to try for foreign travellers. When I first experienced Ayurveda treatment in a hotel in the south, I thought it was a kind of massage style quite similar to some South East Asian countries. After years of living in Sri Lanka, I gradually got more Ayurveda knowledge and realised it is a different lifestyle and East philosophy.

As a frequent user of Ayurveda balm, healing herbs cough syrup and others, I know Ayurveda is a way to live healthy through keeping balance in life. It is important to understand how to create harmony of body, mind and consciousness. Meditation, healthy diet and the use of herbs are Ayurveda treatment methods, and Yoga sometimes combines with it. As for the main difference between Ayurveda and western medicine system, my Ayurveda doctor friend told me, “Western medicine heals body, but Ayurveda also heals heart,”

Sri Lanka Ayurveda has something in common with traditional Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on over 3,500 years of practice that includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping therapy, massage (tui na), bonesetter (die-da), exercise (qigong), and dietary therapy. According to our theory, everyone has a unique pattern of energy, a combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics. It is similar to the Ayurveda theory of doshas. The basic Pitta, Vata and Kapha make everyone unique in his own features.

Traditional Chinese medicine

In the traditional Chinese medicine, everything in the universe is formed according to the ancient concepts of Yin and Yang which explores the idea that everything is connected to everything else by mutual states of development and change. As the night found in Yin opposes the day found in Yang, the two form equal parts of the same whole to bring about stability and balance to all things. Together with the theory of Yin-Yang, the Five Elements Theory forms the basis of Traditional Chinese medicine theory, diagnosis and treatment. The five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water show us how our internal organs, systems and structures are connected and affected.

I was told by my Sri Lanka neighbor that seafood is ‘hot’ food. She suggested to me to eat something ‘cold’ to balance my diet. She is a kind woman who sent me milk rice with honey placed in a beautiful tray on the day she knew that I was pregnant. People in our culture similarly believe that food has different natures, ‘cold’ or ‘hot’. But we believe seafood like crab is “cold”, while pepper is ‘hot’.

Different ways of cooking may also change the nature of food. For example, duck is “cold”, but if cooked with ginger, the nature will be balanced. That’s why ginger duck soup is a famous Chinese dish. Diet is not the only factor considered. Bad habits or pressure also results in hotness remaining in the body and causes illnesses.

Balance and harmony

In both the two Asian medicines, we can see that balance and harmony are emphasised. Traditionally, we treat not only the symptoms of a person’s ailment, but also look for the roots in emotional and mental aspects and possible links to one’s living environment, habits and diet.

The two Asian treatment systems have been proven effective by the long history of practice. People are discussing how to make traditional medicine more mainstream. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter whether it is eastern wisdom or western science, as long as people benefit. In a world of cultural diversity, for a long period, we followed western methods to solve problems. But it’s also meaningful to look back and explore solutions within our own culture system. The world will be a harmonious place if people appreciate their own beauty and that of others, and make the best use of all human beings achievements as the saying goes “Harmony but not uniformity”.

Amy Yang, an author and blogger lives in Colombo and writes about Sri Lanka mostly in the Chinese Language, with seven books published and more than million followers in China.