Unless you are a saint, you will go out of balance and become sick from time to time. Occasional sickness is inevitable for a mortal; continuously perfect health does not exist on our planet. Every body-mind-spirit has some weak point, somewhere.
Prajnaparadha - literally, "an offense against wisdom" – happens whenever one part of you insists on an action that is detrimental to the rest of you. It happens when you know deep inside that something is not right for your body-mind-spirit, but you obstinately go ahead and do it anyway, ignoring Nature's warnings. Any part of you can perform prajnaparadha from the cancerous cell that rebels against the organism's wisdom, to the mind that insists on its idiosyncratic version of reality.
Ayurvedists who survey today's world find prajnaparadha everywhere they look, and are not surprised to discover gargantuan imbalances emerging as rampant disease. My mentor was very big on the real reality. "It is always better to live with reality," he would say, "because otherwise, without fail, reality will come to live with you."
While you are a child you live in a world of seemingly unlimited possibilities. As you become an adult, limitations set in, and you learn that you have to live within your limits if you want to enjoy unimpeded flow. Life without limits perverts your reality; it sours your sweetness, or turns it bitter. Sickness is "reality coming to live with you," which is why it is all right to be sick. Sickness is Nature's tap on your shoulder, her reminder to you that you have strayed from the path. When you open yourself to her again, and allow her to work within you, she will reawaken your body's innate healing abilities to set things right. Until you return to that path, Nature will go on reminding you, for as long as it takes - or until your viability as a body-mind-spirit complex expires.
How well your natural healing mechanisms will work in any specific instance depends mainly on two things: how carefully you follow the appropriate regimen (without being stiff or humorless about it), and how much vitality your system retains. After all, everyone has to die of something.
When you are sick, you should ask yourself practical questions, such as how to change your ways so that your disease will disappear.
There is little to be gained by getting stuck on some simplistic cause-effect relationship when you are trying to extricate yourself from the jaws of a disease. You will do better to focus on regaining your health instead of trying to conduct an autopsy on how you went wrong.
Because it is always best to detect and correct imbalances while they are still incubating, it is useful to learn about your own physical, energetic, mental, and emotional "blind spots" and then try to keep a regular eye on them. You should try to pay attention to yourself when you are feeling fine, so that you will quickly take notice when you are not feeling right. The earlier you can detect that something is wrong with you, even if it is not detectable on any of the standard diagnostic tests, the sooner you can treat yourself and prevent the disease from needing to manifest itself fully.
This also applies of course, to everyone you are parenting. It is good to keep a watch on your children, by such means as their pulses, voices, or food habits, and try to nip any problems in the bud. You will find it easier to recognize blind spots if you can also identify strengths.
Perhaps the most striking of the many differences between Ayurveda and Western medicine is that while the latter focuses on disease to the extent that it defines health as its absence, Ayurveda focuses on health. Ayurvedic diagnosis, therefore, begins with what is right with you: how well nourished, toned, and "excellent" your tissues are, and how effective your channels flow.
Reprinted with permission from Ayurveda For Women; A Guide To Vitality and Health by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda, Healing Arts Press. ©2000 All Rights Reserved.