When you’re young you can go out, drink loads, party hard, skip sleep, and still function the next day. More or less. When you get older, that doesn’t happen. If you take your body out for a joy ride it’s gonna let you know about it the next morning. And possibly the morning after that. It might even hold a grudge for the rest of the week.
Why? As conscious creatures with an infinite capacity to learn, grow and expand our awareness, we’re supposed to get smarter as we age. We’re supposed to learn from the information our body gives us today and make instant adaptations so that tomorrow is better. And better. And better. And so on.
When you look at the development of a baby there’s a huge amount of learning and progress. From total inability to do anything, to moving limbs in a coordinated fashion, realising they can affect their environment and their own position in it, rolling from back to front, working diligently to press up to hands and knees (and face planting numerous times in the process). The world expands as they learn new things. From hands and knees, the next mission is standing. The world expands again as this is achieved. And so on and so forth.
This is supposed to continue happening. We’re supposed to keep receiving new information from our body and continue acting on it to embody the next lesson.
We’re not supposed to ignore the signals from our bodies and make the same mistakes again. We’re supposed to continuously refine what we do. Our bodies and our life experience should keep optimising. We should become more efficient and more proficient at life. It should get easier.
Our bodies are designed to get more intelligent as we get older, as we embody our accumulated wisdom. When we violate this principle, when we ignore the plethora of signals our body is sending us at any given moment, we suffer. Big time.
The number one cause of disease according to Ayurveda is Prajnaparadha, the failure of intellect, a crime against wisdom. In essence, not learning from our yesterdays. Overring the information received from our bodies.
I have a humbling example of this from just this week. On Wednesday I made enough pasta to feed the whole street. It was delicious. I ate most of it. It felt gooooood. So yummy and creamy and cosy on a cold winter’s day. Plus, I’m pregnant, I’m feeding the baby too, right?
Next morning I woke up with a heap of ama. Urgh. Ama is the ayurvedic term for toxin. It’s the gooey-gunky residue from food (or experiences) that we’ve been unable to process effectively. It accumulates in our digestive system when we eat too much, or throw more food down the trap before the previous meal’s been digested. It also starts to appear
when we eat crap that our body has to work double-time to breakdown and turn into something useful or simply shift out of the system. In any case, when you wake up in the morning and you have white gunk on your tongue, when you feel a bit stiff in your joints, a bit hazy and cloudy in your mind, that’s ama. Take note, that’s useful information.
The body doesn’t lie. The mind lies, routinely. ‘I’m pregnant, it’s OK, I should tuck in and enjoy’ goes the mind. ‘Dude, we’re pregnant, we’re not a family of four,’ points out the body.
What a stroke of genius that we have this inbuilt, reliable source of feedback: our own body. Imagine if we didn’t get the hangover, the achy joints, the low energy, the mental down, the general icky-sticky-cloudy feeling when something’s not quite right. We’d never know we were veering off track. We’d never have the chance to autocorrect. We’d just die, suddenly.
When I woke up the morning after my pasta incident it was obvious I’d eaten more than my body could process and usefully use. I chose to skip breakfast to give my body space to clear up the mess. I made some ginger tea instead to help stoke my digestive fire and burn away the ama.
Our body is always giving us information, are we paying attention?