As I look across the street at West Mountain 5 flags are waving non stop in the wind. Going outdoors I feel the breeze rough on my face, sometimes blowing into my ears. My eyes look ahead focusing on the the base of the mountain now covered in snow. They slowly move upward towards the pretty blue, wispy clouded sky. Vata, one of 3 doshas (energetic forces of nature) comes to mind. It is responsible for movement within all beings and in the universe. Movement can be serene or tumultuous. Vata is the reminder we have transitioned into winter.
With daily effort I search for a way to embrace the Vata moment. My environment is telling me ‘tis the winds of change’. My mind is whirling by stormy current events. Emotions fluctuate as if I am on a roller coaster ride with topsy-turvy stomach feelings. Finding confidence in fear and worry, rest in activity, compassion while suffering takes effort. Reaching out to others with a loving heart when feeling stressed is difficult. How do I stay grounded when I am spinning in all directions?
THE ANSWER IS IN THE ‘KNOWING’
Knowing Ayurveda offers empathy and the tools to manage a healthy diet, lifestyle and mind, gives me the impetus to stay its course no matter the season, emotion, or events that trigger my mind. This 5,000 year old wisdom has been tried and is true. Many are finding Ayurveda’s science has a positive affect on their total well being. It just takes practice. They say practice makes perfect, but I do not need to be perfect. I am perfectly imperfect and all I need to do is my best to stay on the Ayurvedic path.
TIPS FOR WINTER
I reach out to you with a reminder to allow the mind and body to turn to the Ayurveda tools needed to find balance in these times. Yes, there is a balance to be found in topsy-turvy, warmth to be found in cool, and grounding in the wind. Following are tips for the winter season. Why not try just one, or more, if you like?
- Eat mindfully and prepare warm meals made of foods that the season offers. The 8 amino acids, which provide the protein your body needs daily, are found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy (not too much in this season) eggs and avocado. These contain complete protein and to get the 45-55 grams needed a day a small chicken breast will do. Incomplete proteins in the forms of legumes, vegetable, grains, nuts and seeds can also meet the daily requirements when combined, and not necessarily eaten at one meal. So, dinner of rice and beans, or breakfast of oatmeal with nuts and seeds will help you meet that requirement. No need to eliminate foods from your diet, just add more seasonal foods.
- Abhyanga – oil, oil, oil the skin. This is so important since the cold air is drawing the moisture right out of our bodies. Ayurveda teaches if you are dry on the outside then you are dry on the inside. Include nasya (nose) oil and ear oil in your daily routine. Just put some organic sesame oil on q-tips and line each nostril and ear (not deeply) to apply. The oil is heavy and grounding to the body, captures germs, and moisturizes the channels, preventing dryness.
- Take care of your senses by turning off the television, news, computer, and phones. It is in stillness that our body can rejuvenate and heal. Overstimulation of the senses just leads to stress.. Clear and nurture the senses with quiet activities. Also, listening to soothing music, humming, singing songs that make you happy are good for the body as well as the soul. Finally, clear the mind by keeping a journal – putting it on paper gets it out of the head.
- Yoga, Exercise and Meditate – one cannot underestimate the benefits. Allow yourself to do 10 minutes a day and know you did enough. These islands of serenity need not be done all at once, spread them throughout the day and receive the healing, serenity they have to offer.
- Drink warm liquids through the day, at least half your weight in ounces. There are so many teas that contain warming spices such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon which help with digestion. Rose, tulsi, chamomile, lavender teas are calming to the nervous system. Increase these and perhaps you can decrease, but not necessarily eliminate caffeine. In addition, avoid cold drinks, they extinguish digestive fire. Since Vata dosha brings coolness and dryness to the body, liquids are extremely important to avoid dehydrating our insides as well as our skin.
- Prepare for bed by focusing on self-care. A soothing massage to the whole central nervous system can be gained by rubbing your feet with sesame oil or oil infused with essential oils. Also, have a warm cup of golden milk (recipe also found at banyan.com), read an uplifting book and listen to a guided meditation. Practice breathing exercises called Pranayama. If there are blue or red light beams shining from your radio or other electronics in your bedroom, cover them up because these lights trigger the brain into thinking it is not nighttime and it will not fall into rest. So, for a good night’s sleep, you need a dark room.
Finally, make time to step back and engage in activity that brings you joy and quiet. Seek nature, raise your face to the sunshine (and if the sky is grey, smile anyway), and go for a brief walk. I have found if you do not make time for yourself no one will give it to you. By embracing and utilizing the tools of Ayurveda you will be able to take a step back and observe, see the calm in the topsy-turvy, feel rested, refreshed, and connect to the peace within.