Ayurveda: Why This Ancient Practice Is The New ‘New’
“Ayurveda teaches harmony with Nature, simplicity, and contentment as keys to well-being. It shows us to live in a state of balance in which fulfillment is a matter of being, not becoming. It connects us with the wellsprings of creativity and happiness within our own consciousness…to return to oneness with both the universe and the Divine within.” – Dr. David Frawley
Ayurveda or “the science of life” is gaining popularity in mainstream culture, and with good reason. In a world that often feels out of balance and fast-paced, this ancient Hindu system of medicine provides us with the tools necessary to stay grounded and healthy in mind, body, and spirit. While Ayurveda is indeed a very complex system in many ways, it can at the same time be very simple in its approach: get to know your constitution or “dosha”, eat accordingly and with the seasons, develop daily rituals or “dinacarya” to nourish your entire being and work toward bringing balance into your life through these means.
While I certainly hope that interests are piqued by my title or by the word “Ayurveda”, I must be clear when I say that Ayurveda is held deep in my heart and with such reverence. As such, it is so important that we remember to preserve the integrity of Ayurveda so that it doesn’t become a trend. Trends, like diets or acid-washed jeans, fade quickly (no pun intended) and hold little more than a temporary, superficial reward.
Ayurveda is a rich and profound system of healing and wellness; it is a quest for longevity and the Truth of who we are. When we live Ayurveda, we reap the rewards of knowing ourselves more deeply through the food we eat, exercise, meditation, mantra, connection with the Earth and much, much more. It is my hope to offer you a few insights into this wisdom tradition and spark your curiosity so that Ayurveda might find a place in your life.
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Old is gold
At its simplest, Ayurveda is all about going back to our roots. It urges us to go back in time to bring answers and healing to the present by recognizing and respecting Nature as our number one teacher. When we take time to observe and work with the cycles of Nature, we become aware of what is available to us, specifically in the way of food. There is a reason why we eat, grow and forage certain foods at different times of the year.
Apples, for example, are harvested and eaten in the fall as they remove excess heat we’ve built up in our bodies from the summer. Cucumber and cilantro thrive in summer and help to cool our bodies down. We often forget this rhythm because we live in a global world where we can access guava and pineapple in the middle of winter. but is that what we should be eating in January? Or should we be eating the root vegetables and the squash we harvested at the end of the growing season? Our bodies know what they need; it is often our minds that get in the way and dictate what we eat. But the more we build our intuition and pay attention to how food affects our entire being, the more clarity we have in choosing.
How we show up to one thing is how we show up to everything
When we begin our days with a grateful heart, a calm mind and a body we’ve shown love and care for, it is only natural for that energy to trickle outward and into the rest of our day. It affects how we interact with others, how we handle stress, how we prepare our food. it even affects how we view the world and ourselves. A heart, mind, and body that are nourished from the inside and out will radiate pure love and light, kind thoughts and words and gratitude for the beauty that is life.
How do we do this? Creating a ritual is a great place to start, especially a practice you can put into place in the morning. What might a morning ritual look like?
I begin my day with a simple, silent prayer of gratitude as soon as I open my eyes: “Thank you for giving me another day on Earth. May I live it fully, may I walk in beauty and grace.” Then I turn my kettle on (sipping on warm water each morning helps flush out toxins and aids in proper elimination) and head to the bathroom. I scrape my tongue, I brush my teeth, I splash water or spray rose water in my eyes, I put sesame oil in my nose to help combat dryness in winter months and then I swish with oil for as long as I am able to on any given morning (5 minutes if my 4.5-year-old is already up, more if he is still sleeping. Swishing or “oil pulling” helps remove toxins built up overnight! Use coconut oil in warmer months as it is cooling; Use sesame oil in colder months as it is warming).
This ritual takes no more than 8 minutes and is a beautiful way to care for the senses. If I know I have a busy day ahead, I opt for waking up a few minutes early to ensure I get my time in. It is so, so simple but makes such a difference in how I move about the rest of my day. It sends a message to the Divine within you that says “I love you. I am going to take care of you. I honor and respect you.”
Whatever is possible is more than enough
One of the best pieces of advice I would like to offer is to let go of the desire for perfection and the need to do everything at once. Start off slowly by incorporating one or two practices into your daily life and allow it to grow from there, when you’re ready. Maybe you create a self-care routine in the morning. Perhaps you begin by lighting some candles at the dinner table and sharing a simple prayer of gratitude. Maybe you’d like to find or create a mantra to meditate on throughout the day. Maybe it’s experimenting in the kitchen with an Ayurvedic recipe or getting out in Nature each day.
Whatever your choice may be, make it something you look forward to and put heartfelt energy into. Creation, of any kind, manifests out of love so in order to create a ritual or develop a practice, there must be love and intention behind every act. Where there is love, all else will flow. So have fun with it! Live it. Love it. Share it.
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