An Integrated View of Health and Well-being
Health, health care and the pursuit of wellbeing are pillars of any human social system. However, the social representations of the body, the mind, and their pathologies are strongly influenced by cultural norms and beliefs. The culture of India is a melting pot of diverse philosophical visions translated in practical terms. Historically, Indian tradition comprises nine main Dharshanas, or philosophical systems, which were formalized between the tenth century BC and the fourth century AD. In spite of their differences, these systems of thought pragmatically coexisted in the foundation and building of Indian culture, sharing a common core, that is the realization of the self in the society. The traditional health system of India - Ayurveda - has been elaborated and formalized throughout the centuries as an outcome emerging from the practical application of the Dharshanas to the observation of human nature and behaviour.
Ayurveda conceptualizes health, disease and wellbeing as multidimensional aspects of life, bringing philosophical principles into practice. Its approach to life and its events is basically integrated: in order to attain an optimal adaptation, individuals should preserve a balance among their biological and psychological features, and the environmental demands. This balance is dynamic, and it is based on the interplay between the specific individual bio-psychic constitution – on the one hand – and the ceaseless solicitations derived from the natural and social context – on the other hand. The harmonization of individuals’ needs and growth tendencies with the environmental requirements fosters health and wellbeing.
This approach is remarkably close to the eudaimonic conceptualization of well-being proposed by positive psychology. Moreover, the basic tenets of Ayurveda are deeply consistent with the latest developments in modern physics, which stresses the substantial interconnectedness among natural phenomena and their substrates. Finally, the growing emphasis of Western medicine on the bio-psycho-social dimensions of health, and the increasing claim for an integrated approach to the treatment of chronic and degenerative diseases, make the exploration of synergies and complementarities among different healing systems a necessary step. This book shows how the approach to health developed in Ayurveda can be useful and fruitfully integrated in a general, globalized model of health and well-being encompassing cultural and ideological boundaries. In particular, the conceptualization of health as an optimal and mindful interaction between individuals and their environment will be discussed as the core of a new paradigm of healthy life and behaviour.
Identifies links between the modern conceptualization of health and well-being and the approach proposed by Indian tradition knowledge Describes the culture of India and the realization of the self in societyBrings together contributions of scholars in various scientific domains, such as physics, medicine and psychology