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.

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” 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 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

Staying Healthy this Fall: 4 Seasonal Tips from Ayurveda

(Originally published as a “Featured Today” Highlight, in the “Popular Lately” section and Top 10 Blogs of the Week on Elephant Journal)

One of the most inspiring things about the ancient science of Ayurveda to me is how it not only equips us with tools to transform disease, but also to actively promote real, abiding health.

Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga. It is a full system of medicine, which is believed to have been revealed to Rishis (seers or sages) over 5,000 years ago in the ancient Indian civilization.

Ayurveda is still practiced all over India. These days, Ayurveda is in danger of becoming merely another prescription-writing medical practice in which more attention is increasingly given to treating disease than to preventing it. I am therefore so grateful to have been able to study the science of Ayurveda from a traditional Gurukula style of school, where the teachings of this ancient science have truly come to life in an amazing, experiential way.

One of the ways I have learned to really live by Ayurveda’s wisdom is by following its seasonal health protocols, called Ritucharya. “Ritu” means “season” in Sanskrit, and “charya” signifies “to follow.” Through following the specific seasonal regimens of Ritucharya, Ayurveda empowers us to live in greater harmony with the cycles of nature.

In Ayurveda, there are three fundamental constituents of the body, called doshas. These doshas are made up of the five great elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Whereas many modern Ayurveda resources indicate that Vata dosha (made up of ether and air) is increased during the Autumn season, the ancient, traditional texts of Ayurveda, like Charaka Samhita and Ashtanga Hrdayam, inform us that it is actually the Pitta dosha (comprised of fire and water) that is dominant in the atmosphere at this time.

What does it mean for us to stay healthy in a practical, day-to-day way this fall?  Continue reading