Obesity is a matter of public health concern. The World Health Organisation says that obesity is a disease. What is obesity, what drives obesity and what does Vedic Astrology have to say about obesity? What is our body, what is the constitution of the body and how is this determined. There are many questions surrounding obesity and the cultural signals which give rise to this. In this article we look at some matters surrounding this topic.
Obesity and Appetite
There is the yogi, the bhogi and the rogi. The yogi eats one meal per day; the bhogi eats two meals per day; the rogi (the one who has illness) eats three or more meals per day. A meal occurs each time you consume a solid, or a liquid which is not water. While water is important, excessive water dilutes the stomach acids and the stomach has to work harder to digest solids. Ditto snacking between meals; each and every snack has to be digested by the stomach and passed into the alimentary canal for processing. We may manage the senses, manage the body and manage our minds in the effort to manage our health. This is assisted by management of thought, time and breath, to which we shall return, later.
An appetite is driven by desire. There are basic needs of the body for fluids and nutrition, and for energy in order to undertake action. The finest part of the food is extracted by the body and sent to the mind. The foodstuffs we consume affect our minds. We began by saying that appetite is driven by desire; there may be a balance between basic needs of the body with proper sustenance and bodily maintenance. Beyond these, the mind and desires take over and input foods - either at mealtimes or between meals - in order to satisfy other needs, such as self-acceptance, belonging, self-nurturance, self-satisfaction. An unchecked ego will go to any length to maintain its status-quo, including eating deleterious foodstuffs, empty calories, over-eating all of which lead to disease and harm to the body. An unchecked ego may easily kill the body. Hence, a wholesome, balanced self-discipline is needed. Our appetites have to be managed.
The Body, Cultural Signals and Obesity
Our physical bodies are indicated by the ascendant and the lord of the ascendant, and the nature of the influences upon the first house. Our bodies are also indicated by Mars in the chart, due Mars supplying energy and initiative to take up action. The astral body is indicated by the Moon and its placement, and we must allocate attention to the nakshatra the Moon is located in at birth. The fourth house is also important as this is the house of the mind, and Moon is the presiding deity of the mind. The causal body - which indicates character, will and individuality, is shown by the Sun's placement in the chart. So there are the three bodies and the three biological humours (doshas) of Vata, Kapha and Pitta. All these are elements which comprise the physical body, and care of our physical body is important, for this enables us to follow dharma throughout our lives.
Of the three biological humours, Vata (air element) creates the nervous system, and is responsible for movement, homoeostasis (internal balance) and actions arising from impulses. Mercury is related to Vata. Pitta creates the digestive system, for it is the fire in the belly which is responsible for conversion of nutrients on all levels. The Sun is related to Pitta. Kapha makes up the bulk of bodily tissues - muscle, skin, bone, teeth, hair and nails - and water - blood, plasma and fat. The Moon is related to kapha.
Our body is the combination of vata, pitta and kapha elements as directed by the planets by way of their rulership in the Astrology chart, and their placement at birth. As we are mind, body and spirit, we are very much culture bound and influenced by the bounds of culture, and its signals. In countries of western anglo-celtic and european cultures, there are signals to eat on impulse; food is presented as “Love that Food”, “Finger lickin good”, “The burgers are better at this place” and high sugar content foods prepared quickly (and eaten even more quickly). Hence the name, "fast foods". We are daily bombarded by these cultural signals to eat - and drink - in order to enjoy happiness. One drink tells us it is "always summer" when we can enjoy endless satisfaction, a beautiful partner, a drink, the beach, the sun, the surf and the waves. What the cultural signals fail to tell is that the higher the level of comfort, the lower the level of happiness. Food does not equal happiness, whatever the billboards and media messages tell us.
These cultural signals interfere with the body's management of proper foods eaten at the proper time. Never mind that the mind and ego want this; if left alone, the mind and ego will induce conditions from improper eating which lead to dis-ease, a lack of ease in the body, too much energy which is stored as fat which the body cannot utilise. Homoeostasis (inner balance and harmony) is lost and conditions for illness and decay are present. Western civilisation has become a diseased civilisation which is recognising the obesity pandemic, especially in children.
Signs, Houses, parts of the body
Signs and houses are related to various body parts; Aries, the natural first house governs the head; Taurus, the second sign indicates the face, neck and voice-box. The next sign, Gemini, signals the shoulders, upper arms, chest and lungs; Cancer, the natural fourth sign, indicates the kapha energy in the chest, heart, lungs and stomach. Leo governs the solar plexus and the middle back region, including the organs located there. The pitta energy - solar energy of the Sun places fire in the belly and in the circulatory system. The natural sixth house, Virgo, signifies the middle and lower stoma, including the colon and overall health and digestion.
We look to the other six signs which make up the astrology chart: Libra governs the lower lumbar region, the lower stoma below the pericardium and the internal sex organs, more specifically, the female reproductive system. It is Scorpio which betokens the rectum, bladder and external sex organs. Sagittarius is the abode of the lower back, hips and thighs. Capricorn is the location of the bones and joints of the knee; Aquarius indicates the calves and lower legs, and Pisces is the place for the lymphatic system and the feet.
Plethora of data to examine
So we see that the body of the formless divinity - called kalapurusha - is indicated in all the signs of the horoscope. There is no one location for obesity. The astrologer looks for the body type according to the ascendant and Lord of the 1st house, and more importantly, where the Lord of the first is and the influences on that planet in that location and its strength, shadbala. An astrologer might also examine nabassa yogas beginning with the ascendant in order to determine the general path of the native and the general tone of the life that is to come. Looking to health issues, we may assesses health generally and look for the presence of malefics in 3-6-11th houses which indicate resistance to disease. What we need to be looking for is the mind, the strength of character, the capacity to follow dharma, whatever body type and bodily conditions we have been gifted with.
Our body type and bodily conditions are fruit of our genetic code (our parents, hence D12, and D40, D45 charts are relevant) along with the samskaras and preferences we are predisposed to in this current body (D60). For these, an accurate birth time is necessary. Signs are movable, fixed and mutable. These impact on the capacity of the mind to manage the body and its karma. Strength of will and perseverance are important in management of obesity and location of planets in fixed or movable signs may help. Mutable signs are not conducive to inner determination and enduring strength of character.
Managing Appetite (and other things)
Where appetite is concerned control of the senses via managing thought, time and breath is needed. If we do not control the outward going mind as directed by the senses, we will be unlikely to control our appetite and intake of food. Which person is the one who is obese? The one who has lust for food is obese; Lust is one of the sad-ripus, the six enemies of man (planets in the 6th house when examining from a spiritual perspective) which require devotion and self-control in order to brought back into proper boundaries.
"Sow a seed of thought, reap a fruit of action;
Sow a seed of action, reap and fruit of habit;
Sow a seed of habit, reap a fruit of character;
Sow a seed of character, reap a fruit of good fortune."
Thus good fortune is determined by your own very thoughts. Management of the mind, the senses, the outgoing desires determine in large form how we chart a course toward good health in our lives. One very respected guru once told that "Human life is time". We make take time.
- We may take time for ourselves and practice silent sitting when an opportunity arises;
- We may take time and manage our breath and focus on slow, rhythmic breathing
- We may take time and not haste, waste, nor worry
- We may take time and calmly examine our appetite and how often we eat and drink
- We may take time and ask for help from Higher Cosmic Beings - every request for help is answered
- We may take time to listen to the quiet, inner voice within and allow it to guide us into peace and inner satisfaction
- We may take time for inner wisdom to arise and walk with that wisdom
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