(Last Updated on : 25/03/2011)
Vihara is defined as the second most important pillar of the Ayurveda
. It means activity. Just like the pillar of Ahara, this second pillar also plays a significant role in the proper functioning of the body. The principle of vihara or activity explains clearly how to act in different ways that are life supportive and it also includes lifestyle guidelines for maintaining optimum health and balance. In Ayurveda, it is defined that the successful use of vihara`s recommendations depend on the ability to know exactly what is good is for the health and also on the motivation to act on whatever is known. That is why, it is said that the sattvic mind is really important. The prime focus of the various lifestyle suggestions is to refine the quality of the mind.
There are actually an endless number of demands from various spheres and a lot of attention is required for keeping the minds constantly actively. Additionally, the negative influences from the environment create confusion and fear. These negative influences cause the mind to be confined to a separate superficial level, where it is either too dull or too scattered to even experience the emotional, mental and physical resources that lay hidden most of the time. Ayurvedic scientists say that the limitless possibilities that exist in the subtler levels of awareness that remain inaccessible except to a peaceful and settled mind. When the mind is strongly influenced by the sattva then it is quite possible to have the access to such a calm and composed mind. This stage allows appreciating the whole of life and its various aspects.
Meditation is defined as the best way to enhance the quality of sattva and its positive effects. In Ayurveda, the first recommendation of vihara is daily routine practice of meditation. Throughout the history of Ayurveda, each and every great civilization has endorsed regular practice of meditation as a way to enhance the various aspects of life. Meditation is not an escape from the responsibilities of life or it is not the way to indulge in the luxuries of life. In fact, meditation is a necessity considering the stressful and fast pace of life. Vihara in Ayurveda says that meditation allows one to transcend the active phases of the mind. It significantly restores balance in life and psychological health.
Apart from meditation, another aspect of vihara in Ayurveda is staying rested. This key feature promotes sattva in mind. One of the major contributors to the mind`s loss of knowledge and knowingness is fatigue. With the increasing demands of the modern life, loss of rest and fatigue is experienced by almost everyone. Ayurveda gives tremendous emphasis on meditation and proper rest in order to promote health. These aspects allow the body and mind to release toxins and stress. Moreover, vihara also suggests working in moderation. Getting exhausted negates the ability to enjoy the achievements. It is a proven fact that desires are easily fulfilled when they are created from comprehensive and clear sattvic mind.
Vihara also emphasizes on exercise for enhancing the quality of the lives of the people. It gives importance to two types of exercise mainly aerobic or cardiovascular exercise and secondly sensory exercise. The first type of exercise strengthens and improves the circulatory system of the heart. Exercise or more commonly known as `vyayama` helps in gaining energy. The sensory exercise, unlike the aerobic exercise, is done in a very slow and gentle manner. It powerfully influences the mind. The recommendations made by vihara for the daily routine life are popularly known as `dinacharya` in Ayurveda.
Vihara in Ayurveda are designed to promote the body`s normal and healthy functioning.