Our therapeutic programme is unique in England. In fact, we are the first to introduce Buddhist Ayurvedic Counselling and Psychiatry (BĀCP; Galmangoda, 2015) into the West.
There is a need to develop and implement new and better interventions for mental health and wellbeing (p.40, Mental Health Taskforce, 2016). Buddhist-derived interventions (BDIs) for mental health are increasingly adopted and some service users prefer interventions that resemble a more traditional Buddhist approach (Shonin et al, 2016). Buddhist Ayurvedic Counselling and Psychiatry (BĀCP; Galmangoda, 2015) is a new subject in the area of Buddhist Studies, it was developed in Sri Lanka over the past decade, and its practice has been recognized by the World Health Organisation (p.15, WHO, 2009; p.39, WHO, 2012).
BĀCP has a strong theoretical basis grounded in premodern Buddhist and Ayurvedic texts. Treatment methods in BĀCP include traditional Ayurvedic physical therapies, behaviour and situation change (e.g. through diet and lifestyle counselling), and methods for developing concentration and insight into reality (through a more personally tailored approach to mindfulness and meditation training). Mental health service users in England (from a range of backgrounds) have been satisfied with the approach.
Our Manasa Ayurveda therapist qualified in Sri Lanka at the Buddhist Ayurvedic (Teaching) Hospital within the Nagananda International Institute for Buddhist Studies (NIIBS). Our Ayurvedic therapies are also informed by the Neelamahara tradition; practiced for centuries within the Neelamahara Buddhist temple and surrounding village community in Sri Lanka.
Ayurveda sees everything in the universe, including human beings, as composed of five basic principles or elements represented in space, air, fire, water and earth. These five elements combine with each other, giving rise to three bio-physical forces (Doshas) within the human body. The Doshas are Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth). Together these govern the functions of our mind and body.
Ayurveda also recognises three qualities of mind. The first is Sattva - the quality of light, perception, intelligence and harmony. Sattva is virtuous for body and mind, but imbalance is caused when the quality of energy, activity, emotion and passion (Rajas) or the principle of inertia, dullness, darkness and resistance (Tamas) become aggravated.
Our tradition also recognises the three unwholesome roots (or root-poisons) which form the basis for our suffering. These are our mental tendencies towards greed (Lobha), hatred (Dosa) and delusion (Moha).
These principles and qualities of mind and body are connected in various ways, showing how by working with the mind in specific ways we can improve physical well-being, and by working with the body in specific ways we can improve mental wellbeing.