The COVID-19 virus can have serious and lasting physical consequences to those of us who fall ill to it. Less obvious is the danger to our health caused by sustaining one or more of three negative emotions; fear, anger and depression. Abstract as they are, these negative feelings can also have a harmful effect on our bodies.
Fear, for example, if sustained, can cause cardiovascular problems, cognitive difficulty, digestive problems, kidney issues, mystery pains and more.
Anger, if not managed, can cause ulcers, inflammatory problems, poor vision, certain types of asthma and more.
Depression can cause weight gain, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep problems and more.
It is interesting that the same danger, COVID-19, can produce in one person a fear response, cause anger in another, and in a third results in depression. The explanation for these different responses is found in the theory of Tri-dosha, or three biological forces, which is the foundation of Ayurveda, the world’s oldest complete medical system. Tri-dosha theory explains how these forces, representing the active aspect of the elements (space, air, fire, water and earth) are a necessary condition of all life.
The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata, Sanskrit for “what moves,” is the biological expression of the elements of air and space. In humans Vata governs breathing, nerve impulses, circulation and more. Although necessary to life, Vata can become unbalanced and in this state can become the source of physical and mental illness. Physically disturbed Vata corresponds to degenerative diseases. Emotionally unbalanced Vata can give rise to anxiety, fear and even panic.
Pitta means “what burns” in Sanskrit and combines fire and water elements to support metabolism, vision, the intellect and more. Physically, disturbed Pitta is responsible for inflammatory disease. Emotionally it can cause irritation, anger, even rage. (the hot emotions).
Kapha means “what makes wet” and this dosha governs the elements water and earth. Kapha provides structure, lubricates and protects. Physically, disturbed Kapha is responsible for congestive disease (too much fluid where it isn’t needed). Emotionally, Kapha can cause depression.
The stress of the Coronavirus danger is universal. We are all at risk. However we do not all react emotionally in the same way. Individuals in whom Vata dosha is disturbed are likely to experience a fear response. Those in whom Pitta is disturbed will likely be annoyed or even angered by the pandemic. Slow and heavy Kapha, if excessive, results emotionally in depression.
In the next three installments we will look together at how to easily move away from fear, anger and depression by understanding the role of Vata, Pitta and Kapha in our emotional responses.
Next up: Vata and the Fear Response