Impact of Modern Culture

Impact of Mondern Culture and Ayurveda

Insert from the book Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur

In Ayurveda we cannot address the idea of living in tune with nature without also addressing the ways in which our culture creates disharmony in the first place. Today, many of us spend more time in "civilized" environments than we do out "in nature." These man-made worlds have their own energetic influence, which we cannot ignore if we want to achieve inner balance. Disconnected from the cosmic rhythms, yet not exempted from cosmic laws, modern culture (like every culture in history) has its own constitution,  its "collective consciousness" which reflects the energies and activities of the individuals and groups who compose it. Because of totality is always greater than its parts, however, the makeup of the culture also influences each member in turn. 

In Ayurvedic terms, many aspects of modern life are vatogenic in nature. Contemporary society is characterized by constant movement, speed, change, and mobility, the attributes of Vata. The age of air and space travel (vata, of course is air and space), computers, computer games, electronics, mass media, communications, and information, is a Vata age. "the acceleration of change in our time, is itself, and elemental force," Alvin Toffler wrote in Future Shock almost thirty years ago and the pace is not slowing down as we go into the next century. We produce more goods, consume more resources, create more garbage, cover more miles, meet more people, explore more places, and change jobs, homes, and partners more frequently than in any other time in history. In addition, we are exposed to ways to reproduce not only visual images, but also sounds, smells, and tastes. This tronic age, all aggravate Vata. On the other hand, we rarely make time anymore for nurturing touch, which is the sense that helps most to balance the elements of space and air. Instead, we annually consume billions of dollars worth of antidepressants, tranquilizers, and other mood-altering drugs, purchased over the counter, by prescription, or on the street, most of which are vatogenic as well. Meanwhile, the West's aggressive, competitive work ethic aggravates Pitta. Its materialism and acquisitiveness, along with its diet rich in fats, carbohydrates, and sugar, and poor in nutritive value, all aggravate Kapha, a fact that is evident in the alarming rate of obesity among Americans of all ages.

These imbalances in our collective lifestyle contribute to the high levels of stress and disease in the industrialized nations of the world. You do not have to escape to the mountains and go "off grid" in order to escape their effects, however. By following the principles of Ayurveda and using some of the stress-reduction techniques, you can enjoy all the benefits of modern life and still have a natural, balanced lifestyle no matter where you live. An Ayurvedic lifestyle does not mean renouncing material comfort, achievement, or wealth. To the contrary, it means having the clarity and energy to attain all your goals and still have the health and longevity to enjoy your success.