Tag Archives: healing

4 Inspiring Ways to Love from Ayurveda

Love is such a mysterious subject, right?

This one invisible thing is what makes the whole world go round. We do incredible things in the name of love. We use this word so easily and often, and yet, what is love, really?

Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, and the world’s oldest healing system, offers inspiring perspectives on the true meaning and expression of love in our lives that go beyond our traditional notions of love.

That is because, in its fullest expression and application, Ayurveda extends far beyond mere physical practices to include ways to allow us to connect with—and free—our spirits. As a holistic system of health and healing, Ayurveda teaches us how to lead healthier lives with practices that feed our minds, bodies and spirits.

Here are four Ayurvedic practices you can try today to begin putting love into action. These practices will nourish you and those around you physically, mentally and spiritually—not just today, but every day.

1. Slow down.

1 Corinthians 13 famously proclaims, “Love is patient, love is kind.” It’s interesting that this beautiful passage begins by defining love as patience.

My teacher, Acharya Shunya, says that love is dharma, or a universal path of noble living by certain ideals. Of the 10 qualities or attributes of dharma recommended by Ayurveda for leading a healthy and happy life, patience is the first.

Practicing patience is a key ingredient of love, health and happiness.

In today’s busy world of immediate gratification, we are used to wanting things to happen and get done quickly. This fast-paced existence, however, can be harmful to our health.

Ayurveda teaches how vata dosha, or the bioforce made of air and ether elements in our body and mind, is responsible for the majority of imbalances. The nature of the air is to move fast. And motion and speed in excess naturally lead to decay and destruction. That’s why traveling a lot can wear us out and excess commuting can cause symptoms of early aging.

Slowing down our activities, movement and even speech is a great way to practice self-love. Doing so increases the bioforce of kapha dosha, made of earth and water, which gives us a feeling of grounding, stability, nourishment, and contentment.

I was not born a patient person by any means, but putting patience into practice has been a big boon to my own sense of well-being and feeling of self-love. Not to mention how it has improved my physical health! Since slowing down my life as a fast-paced New Yorker, I feel younger as I grow older.

Practicing patience with others in our lives is a great way to promote harmony in all of our relationships. Listening without interrupting is a great way to do this.

2. Meditate.

Ayurveda psychology teaches us that the quality of sattva, or balance, peacefulness and contentment is the true state of our mind. The Ayurveda sages discovered three main qualities that pervade the universe around and within us—these are sattva (balance), rajas (agitation) and tamas (inertia).

Tamas, when in balance, helps us rest and sleep. Out of balance, however, this force of inertia can cause us to experience darkness, depression and denial. Tamas is stagnant energy.

It is the opposite of rajas, which is associated with action, passion, and motion. Rajas helps us get up, get moving and get things done. But it can also lead to exhaustion and burnout, as well as tamas.

The great news is that sattva, which is synonymous with a compassionate, loving state of mind, is our true nature. Love, in this sense, is who we really are.

One of the best ways we can access our true nature as love itself is by practicing meditation. The practice of meditation allows the compassionate quality of sattva to strengthen in our minds, allowing us to experience love, and radiate it to all those we meet.

3. Go outside.

Ayurveda is all about restoring our connection with nature—our own true nature, as well as the natural world around us. Nature, indeed, is the greatest healer in Ayurveda. We work with nature when we seek to heal ourselves and others with this science, and spending time in nature is one of the best ways that my teacher recommends we recharge ourselves with self-love.

It’s as easy as taking the time to step outside. When I go outside, I try to really observe nature, and contemplate all the lessons nature has to offer. From becoming as expansive and forgiving as the sky above, to remaining as sturdy and steadfast as the trees rooted in the ground below, there is much we can learn from nature.

Because Mother Earth is in danger in many ways, with all the developments of modernization, doing our part to clean up litter on our streets and rivers is another great way to express love for the planet we live on, and all its residents. As is recycling.

4. Give back.

I’m always amazed by how the Vedic sages who have revealed to us the science of Ayurveda recommended service and giving back as an important practice for our own health and well-being. Indeed, when we can do something simple as serving soup in a soup kitchen one day a week, we are able to connect to our inner, abiding source of love.

The spiritual law of karma is inherent to the practice of Ayurveda. The more we give back, the more we generate positive karma that comes back to protect us when we most need it. If we want more love in our lives, the best way to generate it is by giving our love to others by offering something to benefit someone else.

In giving to others, it is really we who benefit. Whenever I find myself overly concerned about something or someone in my life, taking the time and putting in the effort to give back is a wonderful way of returning to my inherent state of wholeness, balance—and love.

Wishing you much joy as you put love into action with these four practices this February.

~Originally posted on elephantjournal.com

Learn more about Ayurveda in my book, The Ayurveda Way: 108 Practices from the World’s Oldest Healing System for Better Sleep, Optimal Digestion, Less Stress and More.

3 Ancient Practices to Embrace Your Soul Power

(Originally published as a “Popular Lately,” “Featured Today Spirituality Highlight,” “Popular Yoga,” “Popular Wellness,” and “Popular Spirituality” article on Elephant Journal)

We celebrated a beautiful Vedic festival called Makar Sankranti at Vedika Global on January 14th, 2016. This festival worships the Sun as it makes its northern ascent in the sky during the first six months of the year. It is considered an auspicious way to start your educational journey and to recommit to your health and spiritual goals for the year ahead.

So many traditional societies have revered the Sun for its magnificent qualities, including the ancient Egyptian, Aztec, Buddhist, Chinese, Christian, Baltic, and Greek cultures.

The Vedic Indian tradition honors the Sun as being the symbol of health, wealth, knowledge, inner power, and the illumination of your very soul.

I have always loved the Sun. 

Even before I encountered Ayurveda, the Sun was a huge source of inspiration to me. 

Sunrises and sunsets have always captivated my heart; it never ceases to amaze me how artistic the Sun is ~ every morning and evening, it creates a brand new art exhibition, totally free of charge and open to all.  Continue reading

4 All-Natural, Ayurvedic Insomnia Solutions

(As published as “Featured Story” on MindBodyGreen.com)

It’s easy to think nothing of missing a little sleep here or there, especially to accomplish more work. I used to believe this, and stayed up many a late night to try to take advantage of the quietness that nighttime provides.

The reality of losing sleep, however, is quite grim. Whereas proper sleep gives you the ability to receive knowledge, the ancient Ayurveda texts teach us that lack of proper sleep not only puts us in poor mental states, but also deteriorates our memory, and hampers our focus, creativity and decision-making abilities. In this sense, regular lack of sleep easily gives rise to ignorance, in terms of both thoughts and behavior.

Modern health experts agree. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) even conducted a study that found that poor sleep at night can impair our behavior just as much as being legally drunk does.

As a lifelong student, and now teacher and practitioner of Ayurveda, I am most passionate about promoting the sub-science of Ayurveda called Svasthavritta, which includes many all-natural, dietary and lifestyle-based solutions to a variety of health challenges, including insomnia.

As someone who used to suffer from chronic insomnia, these four all-natural Ayurvedic insomnia solutions have all worked wonders for me, and I’m delighted to share them with you.

1. Sleep by 10pm and arise by 6am.

“Early to bed, early to rise” is not only a popular colloquial expression; it’s also one of Ayurveda’s most important insomnia solutions. By going to sleep no later than 10:00pm each evening, and arising no later than 6am, you benefit from the time frame it’s easiest to fall and remain asleep. You also live in greater overall harmony with the natural cycles of day and night.

The atmosphere during the time period between 8:30pm and 10:00pm is dominant in a quality known in Ayurveda psychology as tamas, which is essentially inertia or dullness. Tamas is a very helpful quality for making it easier to sleep. During the daytime, starting at 6:00am, the atmosphere is charged with the quality of rajas, which is connected with activity and movement.

I now find that waking up early (between 4:00am and 6:00am) gives me even more and higher-quality quiet time than I used to experience by staying awake late at night. Waking up early also helps you sleep more easily at night.

2. Turn off your T.V. and laptop after 8:00pm.

Your mind and psyche is constantly bombarded with inputs from a variety of media sources throughout the day. By turning off the television and computer screens at night, you can do our sleep a big favor by allowing yourself to stay away from mental distractions and start to prepare for the upcoming act of sleep.

3. Create a bedtime ritual.

Speaking of preparing for sleep at night, Harvard Business Review recently published an article about the importance of having a meaningful practice to help wind down your day. The science of Ayurveda has recommended this for thousands of years, via its various dinacharya (daily routine) practices.

According to Ayurveda’s dinacharya protocol, you should spend the hours of 6:00pm and 10:00pm in the company of the people, pets, books and activities that give you a sense of peace, calmness and grounding. Just before bedtime, it’s also recommended to adopt a practice that inspires you, such as reading an uplifting book, writing in your journal, going for an evening walk, listening to soothing music, or practicing meditation.

4. Oil your feet, the top of your head, and the back of your ears.

Another wonderful health ritual Ayurveda recommends for sound, quality sleep is the practice of oiling the soles of your feet, the top of your head, and the back of your ears with warm sesame oil. Doing so not only promotes healthy sleep; it also helps counteract the aging process and combats stress.

Following Ayurveda’s insomnia solutions has greatly transformed the quality of sleep I experience. Try these timeless solution, and you, too, can also start to sleep deeply, thanks to Ayurveda.

5 Ayurveda-Inspired Ways to Truly Love Ourselves

(As published in “Featured Today Highlight” and “Popular Lately” on Elephant Journal)

Too many people these days tell us the importance of “self-love.”

But, what does this really mean, anyway? And how does one really do this, in a practical, day-to-day way?

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of health promotion and disease prevention, has many wonderful insights for the meaning and practice of self-love.

My Ayurveda teacher, Acharya Shunya, once taught about how Ayurveda explores three primary relationships in life. One is our relationships with objects, including our car, clothes, computers, phones, televisions and teddy bears. Another primary relationship we all have are those with other people. This is where family members, friends, partners, colleagues and acquaintances come into the picture. Then, there is a third relationship Ayurveda teaches us about the importance of cultivating. This is the relationship we have with our own higher self.

Developing a strong foundation of a relationship with our higher self is critical not only to our spiritual journey, but to the prevention of many diseases, as Ayurveda recognizes the role that adverse relationships play in the creation of health problems of all kinds.

Many of us, sadly, never even become aware of the possibilities associated with nurturing this third relationship. Or, we may hear about how important it is to “love ourselves,” but no one really tells us how to do this.

Like so many of us, from a young age, I, too, was conditioned to believe that everything I sought, everything worth having, exists outside of myself. So I spent exorbitant amounts of time, energy and resources trying to manifest love, safety, health, and happiness from some socially acceptable external source, whether that was my work, achievements, relationships or even through giving and service.

Developing a “designer relationship,” as Acharya Shunya would say, with our own Self is really exciting, because, in doing so, we not only prevent all sorts of imbalances; we actually get to learn to fill ourselves up with what really matters.

I have found that, in mindfully cultivating a relationship with my own higher self, I am no longer so hungry for the approval, love and attention of others. My ongoing studies of Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta with Acharya Shunya have revealed to me that my own higher Self is the eternal source of all the love, safety, happiness, health and hope I seek in my life.

Here is my personal list of the top five practices that help me connect to those higher aspects of my own being:  Continue reading

3 Ayurvedic Tips for Staying Happy & Healthy Through Winter

(As published as “Featured Today Highlight, Popular Lately, and Top 10 Blogs of the Week on Elephant Journal)

Many people, particularly those who live in colder regions of the world, really look forward to the freedom and joy often associated with the summer season.

Ayurveda lovers, however, actually eagerly anticipate the winter season.

Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga. In addition to providing customized dietary and lifestyle solutions and healing limiting thinking patterns and belief systems, Ayurveda also equips humanity with an outstanding general protocol for seasonal health, called Ritucharya. There is a reason why you experience certain ailments during certain times, such as colds and coughs during the winter, allergies in the springtime, etc.

The earth rotates around the sun, and at different points along that rotation period, there are, accordingly, diverse protocols for protecting your health throughout the year. By following Ayurveda’s detailed Ritucharya guidance, followers of Ayurveda’s amazing, eternal wisdom can prevent all kinds of seasonal ailments.

Ayurveda’s Ritucharya guidelines involve tweaking one’s diet and lifestyle throughout the year, and are designed for those who are already relatively healthy. Those who are suffering from deep imbalances and diseases should still, however, keep seasonal guidance in mind, which an Ayurveda practitioner can tweak according to the particular needs of the diseased one.

Following Ritucharya ensures that we can take advantage of seasons that are better for building health, and to more adequately protect ourselves during seasons when our health is more naturally considered to be at risk for certain natural imbalances.

The winter season, according to Ayurveda, is the best time of the entire year! We have much greater freedom in terms of what we can eat and the kinds of activities we can partake in with greater success at this time of the year.

For those who are relatively healthy already, Ayurveda’s seasonal recommendations for the winter can be best summarized as: eat, drink, and be merry!

What exactly does this mean in a day-to-day sense?  Continue reading

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