As a practitioner, my particular penchant is for examining the psychospiritual basis of dis-ease patterns. You may wonder at this point, “What does that mean?” Allow me to break it down…
For all those in vata imbalance:Restless spirit
All those with superflous kapha: Just come to Teatime, and we’ll sit on the plush sofa with a cup of chai and I’ll tell you about it.
For all my peops who are in pitta excess: There are layers to each energetic being. You are an energetic being. Just as each molecule can be unique in it’s specific configuration, and with distinct energetic properties in it’s various layers (remember nucleus, energetic shells and valence charges?), so can we. In ayurveda, dis-ease processes begin in the subtle energetic bodies, and then progress to the lymbic-endocrine system (emotional bodies). If still imbalanced, the progression of the imbalance will progress into the body, beginning with superficial tissues.
Given the above understanding of pathogenesis, ayurveda views health as wellness in physical, emotional, and subtle energetic bodies.
It’s easy to understand the function of herbs and foods and physical effects of the ayurvedic body therapies. After practicing with these tools for the physical body for some time, the emotional body starts to show signs of wellness. This is the opportune time to bring in tools to address the lymbic-endorine systems–pranayam, yoga, meditation, mantra, vaastu. At this point, a majority of your decisions on the physical plane are already balancing, for you. Joy becomes a common state of being. You are making decisions based on the energetic effect on you.
Psycho-spiritual practices are those that bridge the psyche (emotional body + mind) and the spirit (subtle energetic bodies). In other words, feeling or intuiting your decisions. AKA, conscious living. Or perhaps best stated as, attending to spiritual growth as the core practice in the way you live. Your decisions are less focused on the details of anything, and are more centered on the experience you wish to attract.
Now, you are consciously co-creating. Our greatest work at this point, is seeking alignment/congruency with our life choices. This means weeding out internal conflict. You want to feel un-conflicted about the way you are choosing to experience your relationships, finances, health, etc.
One of the most common internal conflicts which pervades several facets of life, is not being in touch with our dharma, or sense of life purpose. When we are connected to our dharma, we have a “home base” for the rest of our life choices. It’s like having a guidepost and a mission all in one.
Conclusion: Connecting to your life purpose is a powerful tool to bring greater wellness to your subtle and emotional bodies. This, in turn, has a great preventative and curative effect in the physical body.
In ayurveda, we see the first stages of imbalance or disease in the emotional body, and the mind. With time, If the excess of vata, pitta, or kapha (or a combination) isn’t addressed, the imbalance will progress into our physical body. The entry point into the body is the digestive system. This is why we all have a clear gut response to stress, and even particular gut responses to particular situations.
Since our brains are so preoccupied with the text-messaging and face-booking and all sorts of other wonderful stimuli processing, we sometimes don’t really assess how we feel. Many of us become habituated to feeling a baseline level of anxiety, or pressure to get things done, and we actually recalibrate our interpretation of that experience to be normal. Luckily, (even though it may not feel lucky at the time) our guts don’t play these kinds of mind games.
If there is too much anxiety, stimulation, or overwhelm in your life, you will be gassy or irregular (tending towards constipation or incomplete feeling bowel movements at varying times).
If you have a great deal of internal conflict about your life situation (trouble digesting where you are in any facet of your life), you will have low digestive capacity. This means that even though you may be eating “healthy” or organic, your body isn’t able to effectively harness all the goodness and energy from your food. You may show up as vitamin D deficient even with a good deal of vitamin D in your diet (or B12, or iron).
Too much criticism (even self imposed), perfectionism, and being stuck on the “shoulds?” Well, that usually shows up as loose stool with a pungent odor.
Of course, there are many various ways we can see the emotions affect the guts, and these are just a few examples. Furthermore, you can have combinations of recurrent emotions show up as varying digestive symptoms (as in irritable bowel syndrome).
I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with a gigantic list of every possible digestive symptom here. Rather, I hope that after reading this post, you can spend some time just paying attention to how your digestive system is responding to certain people, situations, foods–and then see if you can identify some of the feelings associated with that response.
I promise you will find patterns.
These patterns are a communication from your body, and are a functional message: something needs to change.
If you have optimal digestions (1-2 well-formed and easy bowel movements at the same time; one in the morning upon waking; no gas or bloating; healthy appetite), you are in a good place emotionally.
If you’d like to learn more, check out my online webinar on digestive health!
Sometimes, after losing myself in drama (TV shows, movies, art shows, theater, books–not the other kind of drama, because I don’t lose myself in that anymore ), I feel an opening that overwhelms me. Several emotions roll to the shoreline of my conscious awareness simultaneously. I feel moved to journal about the quintuplets being conceived and rapidly gestating in my heart and mind, but, I’m too fuzzy on the details. They are feelings more than thoughts and, wow, have I spent a lot of time in my life directing my attention away from the feelings and towards my thoughts. It feels so, so….at a loss for the word to convey the sentiment, here’s a list: full, expansive, opening, connecting, rooting, uplifting, multi-directional.
I can imagine that this is the feeling of neural circuits being built; quick access to a new perspective as another “line of thought” is constructed. I believe, this is the feeling of neur0-plasticity, the ability of neurons to form new connections. Meditation has been proven (by both modern scientists with incredible machines, and thousands of years of ancient observation and practice and documentation) to increase neuroplasticity. I understand on another level now, how art is meditation.
My mind struggles to sieve the experience through the filter of my past, and analyze the details. (At least my pitta can be satisfied with the simple spreading of the experience in a blogpost.) Yet, exploring the experience of increased neuronal connection is more interesting. Once I focused my attention here (a meditation itself to be fully present in any experience), I could feel viscerally what I studied in Italy during my undergraduate study abroad: the therapeutic effect of the arts. When we are in the process of relating to the story, we are in the process of connecting to that which surrounds us, and empathizing. Art, by nature of being an expression of the many facets of life, engenders the experience of feeling interconnected. This is the basis of bhakti yoga, one of the many paths to enlightenment.
Painting everyday meant hours of meditation, as did cooking without any other distraction, watching Felini, and acting in Pinocchio. The peace of mind I felt nell’ Italia bella, which I had previously attributed to the slower pace of life and drinking wine every night (BTW, the rumors are true, there was wine cheaper than bottled water), I now see as a product of practicing art regularly. I didn’t go to Italy with any learning objective. I went to just fall in love with the culture, the food, and the art. My unanticipated lessons on the therapeutic effects of the arts came as firsthand experience.
Where is the art in my life now? In a tupperware box in a cabinet in the garage. I need to schedule time for this, make it a priority, and regard it for it’s true nature: a sacred tool for navigating life with joy.
1. Go on, go make some art or go take in some art. Relate, and grow some neurons. It’s healing, literally.
2. You are taking in the energy of every experience, so censor what you watch on TV. The more fear-based art and media you take in, the more those neural circuits build around fear-based perspectives.
3. It’s important that we support the arts–in every way. The more we are disconnected from our ability to express our experience in non-cerebral ways, the more disconnected we are from our feelings, and one another. This leads to a whole host of imbalances in the mind and body.
4. It’s no surprise that the word ‘art’ is part of the word ‘heart’
A young man followed me from the parking lot to the entrance of the coffee shop the other morning. From my experience on the psych wards of a County Hospital, I’d guess he had schizophrenia and seemed still heavily dosed on sedatives and antipsychotics, clearly not connected with any sense of reality the rest of us may have had in the cafe. He stood at the glass door, holding his belt, which was quickly translated to “there’s a homeless guy staring at you and groping himself.” As I looked at his face, I didn’t see an ounce of malicious intent in his grin. Instead, I saw the same expression my children have when I come home at the end of my day–sheer delight at finding their mother walking in the door. As he was escorted out of the coffee shop, a heaviness came over my heart and I couldn’t help but wonder, “where is his mother?”
A dear friend broke the news of Sandy Hook to me (as I don’t watch television or the news), and her comment stuck with me for days, “how unloved you must feel to do something like that.” Another friend noted that the solution is not in gun control policy, “you have to change the hearts of people.” How do we do that? For me, it keeps coming back to making our children feel so loved and supported.
In my work as a health professional, I definitely am shocked at how common childhood trauma is; but even more astounded at how traumatic not having parents that are present and engaged is. As children, our parents’ actions are all interpreted in a very self-centered way. Children don’t have the ability to process the world in the greater context. So when parents are not engaged, the child comprehends that as “I’m not worthy enough for my parent to make connecting with and loving me a priority“–and we are born expecting that love and attention. It’s just how we are developmentally hardwired, a birthright in a way.
The amount of time and effort we put into our relationships with our children is directly proportional to their sense of self worth as adults. It’s challenging to be a parent. We have to handle our own growth and responsibilities, all the practical needs of the kids, and their emotional development. So often, we get caught up in our own life dramas, our own insecurities, our work, etc. and the time flies by.
There is a precious window to imprint living skills within our kids, and it’s when they are the youngest and neediest, and when we are the most novice in our parenting skills. I think about this often, and so many questions come up:Am I living in a way that teaches my children by example? Am I instilling the importance of listening to feelings in addition to the rules, or “shoulds”? Am I showing them how to resolve conflict in a healthy way? Am I demonstrating how to connect to their feelings and talk about them, and attend to them? Am I creating an environment where they feel validated in the entire spectrum of human emotion?
Most of these center around what I view as life skills that I’m hoping to imprint. And as you can see from the way these questions are structured, it’s not about teaching through words, but rather through modeling.
Does that mean I have to be perfect all the time? No. It means I have to be authentic in my humanness and use my tools to support myself wherever I’m at. That’s it.
How are you supporting yourself as a parent? Some tools to support my quest in being a good parent (and these are just here as simple examples):
1. I now track how much quality time I spend with my kids each day. It’s a took I learned in my coaching program of keeping a “positive scorecard.” If we keep track of what we want to see more of, we are more incentivized to achieve that.
2. Making sure I spend time interfacing with others interested in conscious parenting. Having a community to learn, share, and support me is paramount.
3. Functional Families: this is a class based on non-violent communication and child neurological development. I got a lot out of the sessions and have invited one of the instructors to present at an upcoming Teatime Gathering.
4. Of course, ayurveda! My herbs and self-care regimen are the foundation of my being able to care for anyone.
So all you parents out there, please take a moment to think about how you are connecting to your little ones, or how you can connect more. Each one of our children needs an individual relationship. And know that there are so many tools out there to support you in this journey. We just have to set the clear intention, and the manifestation often happens in spontaneous and mystical ways.
I got a speeding citation a few days ago. I was speechless. I haven’t gotten a moving violation since I first started driving at 16. Of course, I communicated my disbelief, and the officer pulled down his sunglasses and replied, “Are there any more games we have to play?” It struck me, in that moment, that this cop has to deal with all sorts of defensive and evasive maneuvers each time he cites anyone. I wonder if anyone says, “Wow, I’m so glad you cited me because I really didn’t realize how fast I drive and now I’ll be more conscious and perhaps prevent an accident. That’s definitely worth a few hundred dollars!” (I’ll have to ask that next time I run into a cop.)
Of course, I mentioned the incident venting to a loved one…because I knew I would have my feelings validated. Her response to story: “That [insert explitive]! They are out to make money off of innocent people. He must be trying to make his quota before the holidays.”
I agreed, and villainized the policeman in my mind, framing the incident with my victim archetype. I listed all the details that supported my innocence in my imaginatory courtroom, quoting Bernouli’s effect to the judge. I even told my loved ones that I planned to fight the citation and listed again my theorem of justice.
That night, I had trouble sleeping. My mind had trouble turning off because there was an unresolved conflict. I ran over the details of the incident in my mind, and went through a few strategies on how to best approach the situation. As I scripted a defense in my head, I realized that I was going through the experience of feeling attacked, defensive, angry, helpless, aggressive, hurt, and well, you get the picture.
Wait a minute. If I decide to fight this citation, that means I have to deal with this mind being preoccupied, and all of my cells feeling the effects of those emotional states surrounding the situation, until the verdict is reached. That could be months. And, the verdict could have an outcome that affirms my victim stance. Hmmm…a few hundred dollars may be worth my peace of mind in having the situation resolved, and more importantly, to not have to sit in the energetic container of all the above emotions. I can just pay the price, assume that it was a small price to pay for accident prevention and emotional balance over the next few months, and move on in joy. The energy I would have spent fighting this citation could go to other activities that earn more money. Deal! I’m happy to invest in my experience of life being more joyful in the next two months.
The most valuable part of this experience was the insight I came to on the value of my vibrational state/ emotional valence/ energetic container/ experience of life. This lesson was definitely worth the citation experience, as it will pay off for me to prioritize my feelings over “being right” every time.
Make your decisions based on what feelings, or experiences are part and parcel for the given choice. You know yourself best, and just have to be honest with yourself about your likely emotional responses. In the above example, I know I have a tendency to keep running scenarios in the background of my mind until the conflict is resolved (a.k.a. a tendency toward vata pitta imbalance). The choice that has a matrix of emotional responses that is most favorable for you, is the path of least resistance.
In other words, at each junction, there is another path we may not always recognize at first; the path that is how we use the experience to propel our spiritual growth.
At this point, I’m actually even happy to pay the street sweeping ticket I got two days later. (and I won’t even slander LBPD here…:))
Here we are, in the cyclone of vata. We see people expressing their imbalances in extremes of all kinds. A great part of what I’m hearing from people is an expression of vata excess, or imbalance, in the mind. While there are many ways to describe a vata state of mind, the key word in our culture seems to be anxiety. When I think of the patterns of my conversations surrounding anxiety, I find they mostly sound something like this:Q: What is anxiety? A: It’s a state of vata excess, in the mind and body. It can feel like worry, fear, dread, insecurity, overwhelm, hypersensitivity, poor impulse control, internal conflict, indecision, instability, and you get the idea. A lot of people describe anxiety as feeling stressed. Q: What do you mean by ‘a state of vata excess, in the mind and body?’ A: It’s an energetic state where there is more vata present in your life than your being prefers. According to ayurveda, we can sense imbalance at the level of spiritual intuition first. If the imbalance remains unrecognized, we will then see signs of that same imbalance at the level of the emotions and mentation patterns. If the imbalance remains unaddressed, we manifest signs and symptoms of that imbalance in the tissues of the body. In my experience, the first tissues affected in the body are the digestive. This is why we are all acutely aware of the effects of stress on our guts. Q: How do I know if there is more vata present in my life than my being prefers? A: Simple, if you have an excess of vata energy, you will be seeing signs and symptoms of vata imbalance (see table below).
Feeling like you’ve been doing a lot but still don’t really have a sense of where you are headed in this life, what you are about, or where you feel at “home”; A pervading feeling of restlessness, or being unsettled
difficulty completing tasks
cycling of emotions
impulsive speech or behavior
addictive tendenciesinterrupting your own thoughts with tangential ones
|dry (and itchy) skin
brittle nails, dry cuticles
dry lips and mucous membranes
dry scratchy throat
dry, itchy eyes
gas, intestinal gurgling, belching
constipation, hard stools, straining
low appetite and bloating
increased coating on tongue
PAIN, especially musculoskeletal
stiff, creaky-cracky joints
dark circles under your eyes
increased urinary frequency
inability to sit still
tremor, unsteadiness in movement
For anxiety-relief, ten powerful tools to reduce vata in the mind and nervous system (in no particular order) are:
1. Having a baseline routine. Nobody experiences the same thing everyday, but we can have a baseline to our daily rhythm. Rising and going to bed at approximately the same time, and even having a simple ritual (e.g. drink triphala, go to restroom, read affirmations) in the morning and night can be a very effective way to strengthen circadian rhythms. The stronger your circadian rhythm, the less vata there is in your circadian bodily functions (e.g. appetite, alertness, hormonal patterns), and the less anxiety you will experience in your mind.
2. Brahmari Pranayam. This is “bumblebee” breathwork exercise. I won’t do it justice to just write about it, so stay tuned for a video demo. Or you can look this one up in Light on Yoga by Iyengar. The truth is any exercise to deepen and slow the breath is going to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce anxiety, and as such there are a few types of breathing exercises that can be vata-reducing.
3. Forehead-to-the-ground asana. It’s incredible, but true. Literally placing your forehead to the ground (and taking a few deep breaths while you visualize Mother Earth absorbing all of your excess stress) also calms the stress response which anxiety is a byproduct of. You can be in child’s pose, in any variation of a forward fold, or even just laying flat on your belly, and all of these poses reduce vata.
4. Marma Point Therapy. This is akin to using acupressure on a certain point along an energetic pathway (nadi, or meridian). For anxiety reduction, there is a lovely point on the left hand. More specifically, the marma point is on the left palm just below the middle finger bottom knuckle. For most of us, the bottom of the bottom knuckle is going to be about a quarter to a third of the way down from the top of the palm. Allow the left palm to collapse and relax as you press into the point with your right thumb. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
5. Getting enough sleep. We have all been sleep deprived at some point in our lives, and most of us can remember how vata that felt to be moving through the day floating, half-present, and feeling depleted. Sleep is when the body rejuvenates, so making sure we have enough time in slumber is a great way to allow the nervous system to restore itself, reducing anxiety by addressing root causes.
6. Vata reducing nervines. This is a class of herbs that warms, and rejuvenates the nervous system tissue. Most of these herbs also have grounding effects on the subtle energetic body. My favorites are shankpushpi, jatamamsi (hard to get in the US), ashwagandha, brahmi, and tulsi. See your practitioner for appropriate combinations and dosing.
7. Spending quality time with yourself. By connecting to the experiences that bring you true joy, you can reduce vata and reclaim some of your usual energy expenditure to others. Most of us do not have enough time alone where we are engaging in fun, or quality-time with ourselves. We use our alone time to work or clean or get things done. When we enjoy our alone-time (and prioritize it), we ending up grounding in our sense of self and purpose and reduce vata in a powerful way.
8. Consciously reduce the multi-tasking. Focusing on one thing at a time, and completing the activity, is a great way to reduce vata in the mind. The more we try to do at once, the more scattered and anxious we feel, and the less likely we are to produce quality outcomes.
9. Shirodhara. This is a lovely ayurvedic body therapy which involves dripping herbal oil over the third eye (6th chakra) and allowing the warm oil to coat the entire scalp. You can find this at any ayurvedic healing center, and even may upper end spas. Warm oil scalp massage at home produces similiar anxiety reducution, especially when done regularly.
10. Meditate. Most people I know begin meditation because they want to address their anxiety, or stress. Everyone with a regular meditation practice will report diminished symptoms of vata in the mind, including anxiety.
In reality, holding on to weight and looking older (and feeling it) are two expressions of the same root cause: depletion. The habits we cultivate over our lives which result in depletion (vata imbalance), are the same that result in unhealthy eating and exercise patterns, and poor self care. I’m describing a primary vata imbalance with a secondary kapha accumulation of weight. For those that don’t speak ayurveda, that’s akin to saying the body holds on to everything when it knows it’s running “in the red” (energetic deficit). While addressing lifelong patterns may take a while (and a long term supportive environment), there are a few things we can do to see some quick changes in our vitality and our figures just in time to celebrate the New Year. Essentially, we need to address both vata and kapha, but moreso the primary vata imbalance. Here are my top 10 tips to looking, and more importantly, feeling younger and less heavy:
1. Drop the salad (and the dried nuts). All diet foods are vata. Overweight people are drawn to these foods because they believe they will help them lose weight. When that doesn’t happen, it’s confusing for some, but evidence of the fact that this is not a simple situation due to just eating fatty foods. Avoiding vata foods is a good way to get your body out of the sense of depletion. Favor warm, and moist foods that are also low-fat.
2. Oil your body. I recommend using an organic oil (we carry medicinal grade herbal oils without any preservatives) everyday AFTER your shower. This is a modification from traditional abhyanga for our vata culture. Again, we are reducing depletion by feeding the tissues through the skin, and reducing vata. In addition, massage stimulates microcirculation which helps to increase fat metabolism (this is why some spas claim to have slimming treatments.)
3. Go to bed on time. I’m hoping this one is self-explanatory on reducing depletion, and vata. You get bonus points if you go to bed around the same time and develop a stronger circadian rhythm to support healthy metabolism.
4. Even out your meals. The theory on having 5 small meals/day works because it is based on supporting thyroid function. If you are getting a nice steady stream of fuel to your main engine (reducing vata to the thyroid), it will work more efficiently than if you starve it for long periods of time and then flood it. This may not be the best approach for people that have low appetite in the morning. Don’t force yourself to eat if you are not hungry. Just make sure you have food available when your body is ready for it. When you are hungry eat; when you are full, stop.
5. Wake and walk. This is the best way to melt kapha, and gets your metabolism up in the beginning of the day. Just get up and move before you have the time to think about not doing it. You’ll have to force it the first few days and then it will feel so great, you’ll feel off if you don’t do it.
6. Spice your food. This is important for reducing both vata and kapha. Supporting the digestion of what you do it prevents accumulation. Also, spices help to decrease fat in the body as well.
7. Avoid any cold dairy. Ice-cream is not your friend, nor is cold yogurt or cottage cheese or a tall glass of milk, when you are in secondary kapha imbalance. If you bring in dairy, make sure it is cooked and spiced (e.g. spiced warm milk, or cheese in lasagna).
8. Personalized portion control. Cup your two hands together to form the shape of a bowl. This is your personal portion size (level, not heaping). It’s nice to find a bowl in your kitchen that is that size and use it to monitor your portions. Of course, stop eating if you feel full before finishing this amount. Try to avoid eating more than this personal portion.
9. Eat healthy sweets in moderation. Again, avoiding extremes where we deprive ourselves and then swing the other way and binge. Healthy sweets, like dates, and all sorts of goodies at health food stores are good in moderation. Give yourself a daily allowance that you feel good about and stick to it. (recent post on craving sweets)
10. Process your emotions. I laugh that this is on a “top 10″ list because it can be a lot of work. It can also be as simple as journaling. The more you digest your emotions, the less you feel you need to hold on to on a subconscious level. The strong relationship between emotions and eating patterns and weight has been well established in Western medicine. In ayurveda, the fat tissues are proportional to the amount of love we need. So by loving yourself, nurturing your emotional needs, you can actually decrease your need for extra padding against the ups and downs of life.
One of my aunts passed this morning, and I have to admit I felt relief getting the news. This aunt was so miserable at this point in her life, and actually, I don’t think I can ever remember a time when she was happy. As I was processing the news with my cousin (her daughter), I realized this is a conversation I’m having with a lot of clients:
How do we process having parents that don’t know how to be happy (and may die that way)?
Our parents are oftentimes very different from us, and let’s face it, they are likely not going to change much in the later years of their lives. The differences we have with our parents can be so prevalent that we feel the need to distance ourselves as a coping strategy or protective mechanism. Coping from what? Well, for example, from the realizations such as:
- your parent(s) may not emanate happiness in this lifetime
- their emotional state is a choice they made, oftentimes despite you trying to help them become aware of this choice
- you can’t ‘save’ them
- you never really learned how to be happy because they didn’t know how to teach you that
- perhaps they trigger you to the extent that you need to create boundaries for your interaction with them
We come into this life instinctively looking to our parents to teach us the many ways to navigate it successfully. As I tweeted the other day, joy is the only true measure of our success. So when you learn that your parent can’t teach you how to cultivate joy, it can be emotionally devastating.
We feel like we have to take this big thing of life on alone, unassisted, or unguided. That brings in fear and overwhelm, and a lack of trust that the universe supports you. And then there’s the the unhealthy patterns we picked up in childhood that we are aware we need to rewire. (deep breath here)
So here’s my recipe for navigating this experience:
1. Create space
We need space and time to process this. If you are in this dynamic with your parent everyday, or several times a week, you may need to carve out clear time to “detox” from that pattern. If you’ve already distanced yourself from a parent relationship like this, you may have already taken this space but not had time to process the emotions. Maybe now is the time to address how you feel about this situation, and it can take any form (e.g. therapy, journaling, processing with a friend).
2. Self care
It’s important that you know in your core that you are showing up for yourself in every way you have intended. I don’t mean you need to be perfect, or have accomplished everything your think you should have. Think about how you nurture and care for yourself, and how you would like to. Then prioritize those intentions. Then fulfill them.
Your self care ritual is the foundation for your happiness. For all of you who have heard me talk about “energetic containers,” the time you engage in self-care is the time you are sitting in the feelings of being nurtured, of trusting, of receiving, of regarding your well being as most important. The more time you spend in this energetic container, the more time you spend attracting these feelings in every aspect of your life.
3. Calling in your support
You are completely supported by the universe. If it doesn’t feel that way now. Think about whom you are looking to for support. (And you may want to read this post on When Someone isn’t Meeting Your Needs) One of my mentors always said, “your needs are not met by any particular person, place, or thing.” If the people in your life are not able to emotionally support you, there are more people that will. Perhaps, to begin the process of feeling supported, we see a therapist (or business coach, or support group…etc). That’s a great way to start having regular structure and sacred space for emotional processing in your life, regardless of the modality. Once we cultivate the feeling of being supported, we only attract more experiences in which we feel that way.
4. Be aware of the doshas
Most of our elders are already in the vata stage of life. This is a time where they can be very susceptible to vata imbalance (signs and symptoms of vata imbalance). If you are taking care of a vata-imbalanced parent, there is great opportunity to help to balance vata to help ease their experience of life (and yours ). If you aren’t in the position to help them balance vata, you can be aware of the energetics and minimize the vata in your interaction with them (e.g. regularly scheduled interaction, certain times of day, aromatherapy, colors, foods, activities, etc.).
In addition, you can be aware of your energetics and interact accordingly. For example, perhaps you minimize interaction during times when you are in vata imbalance (e.g. transition, depletion).
5. Gratitude for the contrast
If you are reading this post, you are likely part of the group of us whom are consciously trying to optimize our experience in this lifetime. Look around you. This group is still not the majority of our population. We are so blessed to have the awareness of our incredible power to create our reality (even if we haven’t completely created that yet). The awareness is the first step. We likely wouldn’t have come to this awareness of conscious co-creation if we didn’t have people in our lives who showed us the opposite. Being able to witness the state of unhappiness as a lifestyle, sparked a desire for something different within us. Even if there are times at which we operate much like the patterns we see in our parents, if we are aware of that, and even at times operate differently, we have benefited from the contrast.
Thank you parent(s) for helping me define what I wanted in this lifetime. (repeat as necessary)
What better gift can a parent give than the ambition to be happy and break old unhealthy patterns? Plus, your gratitude will soften your interaction with them, and pave the way for any forgiveness that may need to take place.
It’s back-to-school time. Most of the mom’s out there are thanking the universe for rhythm (and a break from the kids). The summer is so fun, and the way we have structured it in modern society, the most vata! “Wait a minute,” you may be wondering, “isn’t it pitta season?” Yes, it is. Vata season is coming up (fall/winter). So what do I mean? Well, summer time is the time in our society when we vacation (travel=vata), fall out of our normal routine the rest of the year (irregular routine=vata), and lack structure in general (no form=vata).
This is why we associate summertime with the vata-buzz of excitement. Each day is a new adventure. I can wake up when I want, do what I want, and am free to travel (or at least this is the experience until we leave school). But this is not just a practice in our society, summertime is this way for most cultures. Why? Well, it’s actually the most balanced time to have all that vata come in. The heat of the summer helps to protect against vata imbalance (although most of us are feeling it by now). Spending time in the water, and with family/community is also is balancing for vata and pitta, which is why these are part of our summer festivities.
As we come into vata season, it’s balancing to reinforce rhythm and routine. So, school schedules are actually very balancing, and oftentimes determine the rhythm for the whole family. Three cheers for back-to-school!
Similarly, this is the time to really plug back into your personal routine, especially am/pm rituals and spiritual practices. We are about to “fall back” with the time change. Take advantage of that to get back to early am rise and early bedtime (most of us have slipped into later sleep/wake cycles in the summer). The more you can find consistency in your daily rhythm, and self-discipline, the more vata balancing you are accomplishing. (You can do it.)
Just in case you are feeling imbalanced (or wondering how you know), here are some of the signs of vata imbalance,
Here are my top 10 tips to balance vata this season.
And since back-to-school usually means back-to-viruses, here’s a link to reducing vata at the start of a cold.
Happy re-establishing circadian rhythms, Siva
Do you believe that? I mean, really?
I do. It’s taken a few years of practicing that mantra and digging into the unexpected blessings in situations to say that without hesitation.
Once you begin the practice of seeing the benefits, or the “silver lining”, it is oftentimes present with the awareness of all the not-so-great aspects of the situation. My path with this practice looks something like this:
ME: complaining; needing to vent; wanting to process with friends urgently FRIEND: it's not that bad; how you feel is understandable; here are the good sides (lessons) to the situation ME: Okay, but this still sucks.
after some time…
ME: needing to vent; wanting to process with friends immediately FRIEND: how you feel is understandable; here are the good sides (lessons) ME: Yeah, thanks for helping me see that.
ME: vent internally or in my journal; begin processing on my own; no rush to process but still wanting to; I see the lessons on my own FRIEND: Yeah, I can understand how you feel, and it's so great that you can see the good sides
ME: recognize the urge to vent as a signal to process on my own; no perceived need to process with anyone else; FEELING relieved to learn the lessons and thankful for them. FRIEND: you seem at peace
ME: Thank you universe for showing me more clearly the direction I am to head in now. Every experience in every situation is a signpost.
Once you reach this place of gratitude for every experience, you’ve really accepted life as a divine teacher. Your feelings become guides to decisions, instead of byproducts of situations. Here is where faith blossoms, and doubt fades. Because of the gratitude, and listening to the guidance of your feelings (becoming congruent), AND the growing awareness of the signs in the universe, this is where you become an unstoppable creator of your own reality. The surrender and trust is the prerequisite for building the shakti to manifest the experience you want in this lifetime. Here’s a mantra/affirmation to get you started (one that I’ve used for years):
My life is divinely guided and I am always heading in the right direction.