In the ancient Indian medical science of Āyurveda, the basis of all positive and sustainable action is rooted in dharma, a Sanskrit term that refers to the natural way of things. This ‘natural way’ applies to all facets of our lives, including diet, lifestyle, and medicine. Literally meaning to ‘follow the day’, dinacaryā is a series of ancient practices based on the principle of dharma, designed to optimize different aspects of health, including metabolism, digestion, and memory. Considered the ‘missing link’ absent in many different systems of medicine, both ancient and modern, the practice of dinacaryā in Āyurveda forms the basic structure of a happy and balanced life, and hence is also known as ‘the regimen of the wise’.
The daily regimen in Āyurveda is described in the very earliest of its teachings, including the Suśruta samhitā and Caraka saṃhitā, which originally date back to before 1000 BCE. Dinacaryā is extolled through the history of Āyurveda, as the single most important practice in the prevention of disease and maintenance of health. Modeled on natural rhythms and cycles that connect to us to the earth, the practice of dinacaryā allows us to consciously remove obstructive and unskilful elements in our lives, to create a more peaceful, balanced and harmonious approach to living. On this blog, I have reviewed some of the traditional dinacaryā practices utilized in Ayurveda such as oil-pilling, but isolated practices such as these only form a very tiny part of the overall knowledge base and practice. As I argue in my post, too often practices like oil-pulling are taken out of context and fetishized to the point where the practice actually becomes injurious. One cannot understand the whole of something by only examining a tiny part of it. To understand what oil-pulling really is, one must have a deeper understanding of dinacaryā.
Traditionally, the practice of dinacaryā is comprised of three components:
- dinacaryā: the daily regimen
- niśācaryā: the nightly regimen
- ṛtucaryā: the seasonal regimen
The daily, nightly, and seasonal regimens include important many important facets, all of which are coordinated with natural rhythms to harmonize and support health. This includes establishing proper sleep and wakefulness cycles, as well as practices to balance metabolic function, enhance digestion, maintain physical strength, optimize sexual function, and prevent seasonal illness.
Too often we are reactive instead of being proactive, only treating health problems as they come to the forefront of our experience. As the saying goes, “one can become healthy either through grace or by disgrace” – and indeed, many of us end up choosing the latter. We do so out of ignorance – for if we only knew by the grace of wisdom – we could not contemplate any choice except that which meets the best interests of our physical and mental health. But far from striving towards some unrealistic and obsessive standard of health, or promising the fruit of immortality as do some other traditional medical systems, the practice of dinacaryā is a rational and empirical practice that is meant for all people, without any special restriction or limitation. Although originally formulated in the language of ancient India, the practice of dinacaryā is beyond religion, culture or creed. It’s practices represent our shared human heritage, expressing a way of life that desperately needs to be revisited by the modern world.
New 40 hour Dinacarya certificate program
The Dogwood School of Botanical Medicine is now providing a 40 hour program that covers all the components of dinacaryā, as well as a firm grounding in the theory and practice of Āyurveda. More than just information, however, this program will give you the skills to apply the principles and practices of Āyurveda in your daily life, providing you with a flexible methodology and skill set that you can successfully apply in different situations.
This program is available as a local in-class lecture, and will be available simultaneously as a live webcast for distance learning students. Thus, even if you aren’t actually seated in the classroom, you are still an interactive part of the classroom environment. Both in-class and online students will be able to ask questions during the lectures at regular intervals. And, if you miss a class, it will later be available as both video and audio files that you can access whenever you want. Registration for this program provides free registration the Dogwood School of Botanical Medicine, and access to our student discussion group for a whole year.
Date: Sundays, July 5 – Aug 23
Time: 10am-3:30pm Pacific time
Cost: $495 (includes course manuals, online access to recorded lectures, and certification)