Upashaya is not a dirty word

by Sandra Radja

Humans can be complicated animals.  They will come into a session with a list an arm’s length long of woes and sorrows.  Add to that the idealistic modern marketing viewpoint that one herb can cure a disease that may have been sticking around for a very long time.  I see it often when I find myself in health food stores.  A store owner will give advice on supplements without actually doing any diagnostics.  And sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't work and what we find is, if you open the cupboard of any householder these days, there are a heap of herbs and vitamin supplements half eaten and laid to waste.

So it’s a known fact that we live in a world of trial and error.  The scientists will lay claim to a hypothesis, create an environment to ideally hold constant some variables whilst they observe the variable in question and then make a conclusion, only to potentially revisit the hypothesis when a variable they didn’t consider comes into play.  Kind of sounds like Ayurveda, no?

Upashaya means therapeutic trial or guidance. Aushada anna viharanam upayogam sukhavaham means medicine, diet and lifestyle can be used as exploratory therapy. If an individual has vague symptoms, possibly involving two or three doshas, it can be difficult to determine the type of disorder. In that situation, Ayurveda suggests the use of upashaya.
— Textbook f Ayurveda - Dr Lad
Upashaya goes to the fair. The management of doshas can be like this game of Whack-a-Mole. Just as you think you nailed one, the other bugger appears to torment you.  

Upashaya goes to the fair. The management of doshas can be like this game of Whack-a-Mole. Just as you think you nailed one, the other bugger appears to torment you.  

In upashaya you try a remedy on the face of the symptom and dosha underlying it.  It might work but if it doesn't, it can flag the other dosha at play.  You have to start somewhere.  If the other dosha is a sneaky little mole (see picture inset) then this type of trial and error can unearth it to the blaring spotlight. 

At a basic level, seasons are always the best gauge to work out your own personal Upashaya.  Once you are past the chronic aspect of disease that rides all seasons, you may start to notice that Summer causes migraines, a heat rash and anger.  You may then notice that those symptoms subside as Winter causes sadness, edema and mucous.  Now you’re starting to see how the qualities external to you are affecting the qualities inherent in your own system, or Prakruti/Vikruti dance.  Now you are starting to understand the unique aspect of being you.

The seasons are always changing.  Winter is not the same Winter for 3 months.  It varies in light and heat every day.  That means that the protocol you might use to treat your Winter ailments at the beginning of Winter may need an adjustment half way through.  It could be external, but it could also be that your rising dosha for the next season might also be out of balance and need to be considered in the situation. 

Even though we always look for the simple to treat the complicated, we may need to change it often to accommodate the dynamic motion of being human.  I think life is like that too, feelings and circumstances can change so swiftly that without a connection to a higher presence I honestly don’t know how a person could cope with the demands of movement, most especially these days. Learning how to adapt to change can be a critical component of growing older, in fact it’s damn necessary.  And seeking the wisdom of a person versed in a higher perspective can be the best medicine you could buy yourself these days.