“Foolish the doctor who despises the knowledge acquired by the ancients,” Hippocrates wisely said—and we couldn’t agree with him more. Ancient wellness practices such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine advocate a holistic view on wellness, connecting the body with the mind and working with local plants and herbs to take you to a new dimension of health. As our study of The Promadic Traveler indicates—which we find fits in with the times now more than ever—wellness and personal progress are at the forefront of people’s minds. And while technology is enhancing the way we use the digital space to increasingly monitor our health, moods, and fitness, we’re also going back to the wisdom of ancient practices to guide us back to nature and connect with ourselves.
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need”
– An Ayurvedic proverb
Take the 5,000-year-old practice of Ayurveda—meaning “the science of life” in Sankrit—which places great emphasis on maintaining a balance in one’s life with the right thinking, diet, lifestyle, and use of herbs. Just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, each person has a particular pattern of energy or dosha—an individual combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics—which comprises their own constitution. Once you’ve figured out your dosha online, follow the prescribed Ayurvedic diet of primarily whole or minimally processed foods and practice mindful eating rituals to maintain wellness. Another Ayurvedic practice that is easy to adapt in the day to day is breathwork where we consciously manipulate our breath through different patterns, lengths, and repetitions of inhalation, exhalation, and retention (holding your breath). The concept of breathwork is like a swiss army knife that you can pull out at any time and find the right technique for whatever you’re dealing with.
Fango is Italian for mud. The use of mud in beauty treatments has been traced as far back as ancient Egypt, with clay from the banks of the Nile being used on the face and body to improve skin and texture. Also popular in Italy during the Roman times, fangotherapy reached peak popularity in Europe due to the growth of the Roman empire. You can do your own treatment at home by mixing mineral-rich thermal mud, clay, or peat with mineral or thermal water and spreading it over your body for purification, revitalization, and deep cleansing. While different types of mud are said to have different properties, analgesic and detoxifying mud baths have been used since ancient times to minimize muscle aches and pains and draw out toxins from the skin and body.
Sound Bath, Tibet
For centuries, various cultures have used sound as a part of religious ceremonies and prayer, with one goal being to promote and facilitate meditation. A sound bath is an improvised meditative concert that supports states of deep relaxation, where stress release and healing can occur. This experience can provide many of meditation’s benefits, without the discipline—such as increased focus and clarity, decreased anxiety, stress relief, and a heightened capacity for empathy. When times are challenging, it can be difficult to engage with the usual activities and routines that support and nourish. Those, however, are the times when self-care is most valuable. Here is a five-minute, anxiety reducing sound bath by Sara Auster that you can listen to anywhere. Just close your eyes and listen. Stay loosely focused on your breathing, and let the sound be a secondary focus of the practice. Don’t judge what you hear or analyze the sounds, just listen, observe, and experience them.
“A sound bath is a way to access a moment of peace and rest, and a space for healing”
– Sara Auster
Further east, we explore the Japanese bathing ritual in an onsen, which are naturally occurring hot springs that are found throughout the island nation. As Japan is located directly on the Pacific Ring of Fire, it comes as no surprise that the nation is home to over 25,000 hot springs! Besides their warming and therapeutic qualities, onsen were believed to possess mystical and holy powers because of the mineral content of the geothermal spring water. In Japanese philosophy, onsen is the diametric opposite of everything in normal, hectic day-to-day life. It’s about taking a chance to take some time off in order to relax and embrace one’s inner solace. There’s a meditative process that sets in while you’re sitting in warm water, leaving you with little else to do than find your way closer to Nirvana.
Mayan Rituals, Mexico
For the Mayan people, the physical body was an extension of the soul. Their practices included a mix of treatments, super foods, and mindfulness, giving their medicine a holistic approach. Rituals such as the cacao ceremony were routinely practiced for self-renewal and is also gaining popularity today. When sourced thoughtfully, prepared ceremonially, and enjoyed with intention, cacao is a potent energetic medicine that heals, connects, and inspires. While traditional cacao ceremonies involve a communal gathering, you can also have it as part of your morning ritual. To do it at home, prepare ceremonial cacao (available online), clear the space with sage or palo santo, hold the cacao, connect to the feeling of gratitude, and set your intention. Then drink the cacao and journal, meditate, listen to sacred songs, dance, or have a heartfelt conversation with someone. Enjoying ceremonial cacao can help you connect with your heart and be a gentle guide through transformational consciousness shifts.