Ayurveda has always laid special emphasis on maintaining and promoting health and preventing disease rather than curing disease. In Ayurveda Chikitsa is classified into 3 types Daivavyapashraya Chikitsa (divine therapy), Yuktivyapashraya Chikitsa (rational therapy) and Satvavajaya Chikitsa (psychotherapy). Daivavyapashraya Chikitsa involves measures like using gems and other activities like yadnya etc. Yuktivyapasraya is treatment where medicines and panchakrma are used.
There is increasing need of Sattvavajaya Chikitsa in examining a patient and treating disease. Ayurveda has considered the mental and physical diseases as two separate specialized subjects only in certain contexts. However, no line of demarcation has been drawn between the physical and mental diseases and a flexible psychosomatic approach has been put forward. The treatment of different psychological illnesses, as described in Ayurveda, reveals that the psychological, spiritual and pharmacological methods have been used side by side to root out the disease. The psychotherapeutic approach to the management has been described under Sattvavajaya Cikitsa.
Defination given by Charakacharya of Sattvavajaya is ahitebhyo arthebhyo manonigraha.
In sanskrit ahitebhyo means unwholesome, unhealthy, harmful.
Arth means object of all sense organs and
mano nigrah refers to control of mind.
Thus Sattvavajay is method to restrain the mind from desires of unhealthy objects or actions. It is possible by increasing sattva guna of mind.
Mind is consisted of sattva, raj and tam gunas.
When raj is dominating mind will be in the state of kshipt (craving). It is a state of excessive flactuations and agitation. It is stirring up or arousing with disturbance of tranquillity. It shows physical excitement and perturbation.
When tam is dominating mind will be in the state of mudh( forgetful). It becomes dull and innert, devoid of qualities like determination. Person will be slothful, lazy or idle.
Sattvavjay is the technique to reduce raj, tam and increase sattva. So it helps to improve peace of mind and right actions of body.
It can be achieved by specific type of meditation, physical activities and counselling.
All psychosomatic and mental ailments are the direct consequence of deterioration of dhee (intellect), dhriti (patience) and smriti (memory). Sattvavajay brings them to normalcy resulting harmony in these three factors.
In another reference in Charak sanhita regarding reducing psychological disturbance one should keep oneself with the awareness of real self. It is experiencing difference between ahankar (ego) and real self (atman). This is possible by regular meditation practice of sakshi dhyan (mindfulness meditation). Real Self is always sakshi, drashta. When one has awareness of real self one can observe body and mind without any reactions. Thats why Charak has mentioned dhyan and samadhi words while describing sattvavajay chikitsa.
So Sattvavajay is useful to cure psychological disorders as well as it is the path to improve Oj (vitality), dhee ( intellect) and dhairya (self-confidence). It is the way towards spiritual growth also.
There are eighteen techniques to use in this therapy. Vaidya (Therapist) have to learn and practice these techniques to facilitate own groth. Then he/she can teach them to client in counselling session.
Mahasatipatthana Sutta, the Great Discourse on establishing awareness, is one of the most important discourses expounded by the Buddha in the town called Kammasadhamma in Kuru kingdom. In this sutta, the Buddha presented a practical method for developing self-knowledge by means of kāyānupassanā (observation of the body), vedanānupassanā (observation of sensations), cittānupassanā ( observation of the mind), and dhammānupassanā ( observation of the relation between emotions and sensations).He mentioned these techniques to attain Nibban.
In sattvavajay therapy these four techniques are used to reduce trouble of stress and psychological disorders.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called ashtanga yoga. These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life and to experienceKaivalya (Self-realization)
In Sattvavajay therapy third step Asana ( Yoga postures) and fourth step Pranayama ( breath exercises) are used to relieve anxiety or depression.
Shavasan (Corpus posture) is used to relieve stress.
Visualization meditation described by Patanjali is used while treating phobias and PTSD.
Sattvavajay therapy is mentioned in Charak sahinta. Charakacharya is one of the pioneer of ayurveda, the ancient therapeutic science.
He has mentioned to use Dhyan ( meditation) and Aptwakya ( counselling) to treat diseases. He described objects of mind and their ati, mithya and hinyog (overuse,wrong use and less use) will cause disorders.
He also described achar rasayan (code of conduct for healthy living) and dharaniy veg (understanding and accepting body sensations in emotional state)
Sattvavjay therapy is mainly based on teaching of Charakacharya.