Consciousness Begins In The Mouth
In the ancient medical science of Ayurveda it is said that digestion begins in the mouth. The sister Vedic science of Yoga says the same. Swami Kripalu has a famous quote that captures the essence of this thought around consciousness perfectly – “Before you speak decide whether it is an improvement upon silence.”
Consciousness is a tricky thing. Being aware and being conscious are not the same thing despite dictionary definitions. In the Vedic sciences they have a close relationship but are not synonyms. I can be aware that I am articulating a thought but am I conscious of it? So much of our time is spent doing and not being – not being conscious of the vibration that we are transmitting with our words even though we know and are aware that they have been said.
In Ayurveda, consciousness effects our Agni (digestive fire) and the process of digestion itself. Digestion is not just seen from a biological perspective that enables food and drink to be processed through us and ultimately turn into waste. Ayurveda also sees digestion from a mental-emotional perspective that has just as much of an influence on our health as the biological process itself. Our ability to properly digest our food, liquid and experiences begins with our thoughts and words. If we have a self-deprecating mind-set and language as part of our being this can result in constipation, inflammation or pain. On the other end of the spectrum, if positive thoughts and uplifting speech are our mind-body connection this can enable us to have easy digestion and regular elimination that keeps us healthy biologically and emotionally sattvic.
In addition to our thoughts and words, what we actually put into our mouth to consume influences our Agni, metabolism, digestion and transformation – all functions of Pitta dosha from an Ayurvedic perspective. In addition, if we look at consumption from a yogic point of view, we come to understand from the shastras that it influences our spiritual progress. Gandhi said in his text The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism – “I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.” Gandhi also did not take milk or eggs as part of his diet either.
Consciousness of what we are doing, how we are doing it and the implications of that doing all start with what is created and put into our mouth. If we want to live in a sattvic way, creating a consciousness around what we think, say and eat is key not only to our physical heath but also to our spiritual growth.
Isn’t that interesting?