An Ayurvedic Guide to Breast Health
[et_pb_section admin_label="Section" fullwidth="off" specialty="off"][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] The breasts have been used in symbolism since time immemorial.1 They have represented love and fertility, as well as sex and pleasure. But dream interpretation theories show that in the deep recesses of our minds, for men and women alike, breasts symbolize something even more integral—our primal need for motherly love, support, security, care, and nourishment, because their function as an organ is to give just that. They also symbolize our innate desire to be beautiful and desired and, therefore, can have a profound impact on our self-image.2
Thus, the breasts serve not only physical needs of sexual intimacy and breastfeeding but also energetic needs. Likewise, the state of our breasts and changes in them are huge clues as to what emotions are being processed or need processing. In this way, caring for our breasts is caring for our soul. A beautiful statement by Susun Weed in her book Breast Cancer? Breast Health! sums up this idea: “We cannot nurture others fully or well unless we also nurture ourselves.”3
Never have I seen an area of the body correlate so well with what is manifesting within a person’s heart and mind. Both men and women often go to their doctors with a feeling of discomfort in the chest, without any cause found after numerous tests and scans. But the discomfort is real—the causes are often too subtle for Western instruments to detect. In Ayurveda, we recognize these subtle sensations as signs of imbalance before the imbalance increases to manifest fully as a disease. So often, it coincides with relationship problems and other stressors in life. I have seen breakouts of acne in a strikingly circular pattern over the chest during periods of marked anger and frustration. Similarly, I have seen changes in the quality of breasts and new lumps arise, not so coincidently, during times of grief and pain. While most physicians, because of our training, would write off such shifts in the body, I would argue that we are doing a disservice to our patients and, for the rest of us, to ourselves by dismissing these changes. Instead let us use these shifts as clues to probe inward and see what needs healing and resolving.
We are living in a time of huge awareness around the breasts. Media floor us with campaign after campaign for breast cancer awareness, and rightly so. Breast cancer affects one in eight women and is the number two cancer killer of women.4 A novel study done in Norway made it to the Archives of Internal Medicine with special recognition by the editors of the journal.5, 6 The study introduced thetheory of “spontaneous remission,” which suggests that some tumors spontaneously resolve on their own. What this implies is that our breasts are dynamic and that our bodies go through changes because of stressors, but the body also has an innate intelligence that strives to get back to balance—a truth that Ayurveda has always known. Unfortunately, the body sometimes is unsuccessful in this endeavor, and many women still suffer from breast cancer.
This guide is intended to help us see the breasts as vital, dynamic tissue and use them toward our own healing. Ayurveda allows us to reinstate balance, with our breasts as strong clues to potential imbalance. To that end, this guide will discuss basic breast anatomy, general breast health, and some breast beauty tips.
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