The Glow of Health
When digestion is strong, the body produces an abundance of a substance called ojas, according to traditional Ayurvedic medicine. This vital material results from healthy diet, digestion, behavior, and mental and emotional states. People with a lot of ojas often have a bright, luminous complexionthe proverbial glow of health.
Ojas is considered to be the finest material form of consciousness; it exists at the fine junction point where the totally abstract, unmanifest field of consciousness first expresses itself as matter. Ojas pervades the body, residing in the gaps between the body tissues.
When ojas is lively in your physiology, it affects all aspects of the mind-body, creating enthusiasm, knowledge, and understanding; fullness of feeling on the mental level, and nourishment and complete health on the physiological level. Insufficient ojas results in emaciation, laziness, impotency, ignorance, and confusion.
Ojas is intimately linked with the strength or immunity of the body, called bala. Physiological vitality is directly correlated with the quantity of ojas present. Sufficient ojas in the body tissues creates resistance to any influence that might bring about dysfunction. If ojas decreases in quantity or quality, the physiology becomes more vulnerable to imbalance and other factors that produce disease. Once imbalanced, the organizing principles that run the body either increase, decrease, or get disturbed, resulting in many types of illness.
When ojas is available in normal quantities, it prevents imbalance in the physiology, which means it helps prevent the onset of disease within the body. Ojas also helps the body withstand disease from the outside. That is why the entire purpose of Maharishi Vedic medicine is to maintain a physiological state in which ojas is constantly generated and maintained.
Ojas is present in differing amounts, depending on the individuals mind/body constitution, the seasons of the year, and the time of life. For all people, though, the more ojas present in the body, the healthier they will be.
What causes ojas to increase? Ojas is the most refined product of digestion. Since ojas is the product of digestion, the foods you eat figure heavily in its generation. Some foods are especially nourishing, such as milk, ghee (clarified butter) and rice in proper and limited quantity. These foods create ojas almost immediately. Also being happy and raising your level of consciousness all enrich ojas.
If the food you eat is old, left over, full of chemicals, difficult to digest, or unsuitable for your body type, it will not yield much ojas. The actions that particularly destroy ojas include injury; harm to the body; weight loss; excessive anger, grief, thinking, worry, anxiety, physical activity and hunger; staying awake at night; the consumption of dry foods and alcohol; too little food or the absence of food; taking in poisons, such as tobacco, prescribed or nonprescribed drugs, or even excessive amounts of coffee or tea; and too much elimination of blood, semen or waste products.
In general, a moderate lifestyle and eating habits promote ojas, while eating the wrong kinds of foods and following an unhealthy routine destroy it.