What is all the hubbub about springtime cleansing? Well, in Ayurveda we call these seasonal changes the “glitches” that can either create havoc or help us swim with ease in the river of life.
So how do you know when you need to cleanse?
Here are a few hints…
• When we move from the cold, rough, hard, icy, cold winter to the wet, heavy, cool and dense and gooey spring we can see our bodies express this change with various symptoms.
• Seasonal Allergies Why? Moving from the light and dry winter to the heavy and wet spring will create issues if we are imbalanced. Those imbalances show up in a variety of symptoms. The most common are spring allergies that bring mucous-related issues. Tissues, wet cough, post nasal drip or stuffy noses…all signs of excess kapha or springtime qualities.
• Inflammation issues Wait, if this is a meeting of Vata and Kapha how can it profit a Pitta or inflammation imbalance? Well, when we are dehydrated, fatigued and hit a wall (heavy energy of kapha) we will see swelling. This means “itis”—sinusitis, gastritis, ear infections, eye stys, and uncomfortable joints or headaches,
• Sleep Issues Either way, feeling sluggish and lethargic so all you want to do is sleep, or an ability to sleep by the buildup of winter qualities that can spike our anxiety and stress response.
• Weight Gain Yep, our digestion will move from taking sweet tastes to support building and supporting tissues all winter to taking astringent, bitter and pungent tastes that are the boon of the seasonal harvest of spring. These tastes help us detoxify and lighten up. However, the excess sweet mixed with the heavy quality of Spring can create sluggish digestion. This means we are less likely to detoxify and often get clogged drains (John Douillard) or lymph. When the lymph tissue is clogged, the digestion is slow, we gain weight, water retention or fat tissue.
So ayurveda recommends this as the ideal time of year to cleanse. The concept of cleansing is a specific idea in ayurveda, to detoxify the Vata elements—light, dry, hard, rough and mobile qualities of winter so we can embrace the inherent qualities of spring with greater ease. This is not done by starving. This is done with creating a mono diet with specific spices and herbs, teas and practices that support healthy detoxifying. More to come on cleansing.
I find myself in situations where I see something happening and I feel a deep response to blurt out, “NO! That is not true!”… I have learned to stop this, because as you might have guessed, it has created some real issues for me. (Darn hot head!)
Still, when I ‘see’ situations where there is a lack of integrity—a ‘fast one’ being pulled—I find myself taking action to shine a light on the event. I am always hopeful that others will support me in shifting the situation into the realm of awareness so we can work toward a resolution…a consciousness resolution.
So what changed? I have not really become a ‘cooler mind’ but I now seem to have a little, tiny, crack of light (awareness) that there is something larger than just my vision at play. I have realized that there is a time and a place to pull out my torch and let the truth be illuminated. It still must be done but in a compassionate and timely manner. I suppose one would say, with grace.
I am diligently working on cultivating grace as I still get in trouble for ‘blowing the cover’ on people, events, secrets that hurt. My pal Sue says that the ‘truth tellers have a responsibility’ and part of our dharma is to play that role. I agree and yet, I do not like to be singled out as the “bad guy” who threw the whole operation in a spin because I did not go along with the (unconscious) plan. Heck, I am a parent of three teenagers, sometimes it is nice to step out of the responsible role and be just plain liked!
Yet, just as in parenting, when your teenagers ‘like’ you or are your ‘friend’ you can bet there is trouble a-brewing :) It is everyone’s responsibility to support right action (in yoga-speak we would say good karma). All of us are tapped to ‘shine the light of awareness’ on ourselves, and those who are ‘under cover’ or unconsiousness. This mutual global, social, community, interpersonal action of ‘truth telling’ is called vydia. Living in the light of knowledge, the light of awareness.
Vydia can sometimes be experienced as what we bump into that ‘wakes us up.’ Often that wake up call can be painful, humilitaing, embarassing, or worse…but, at the end of the day we are all supported by these truths. They are gifts to each of us. These truths move us closer to who we truly are and allow us a chance to be compassionate and accepting of ourselves.
So lay off, let’s give the truth tellers a break! Make us a cuppa’ chai and hold our hand. Let us know that despite the “ouch” of the truth, you appreciate our courage and fearlessness to throw back the cover…that compassion, a sweet hug, will help us to grow in grace~
Relationships get stressed out in the coming weeks…Valentines Day! It is often less about romance and more about “getting it right!” Just watch “The Big Bang Theory,” when Sheldon hires his assistant to find a really good Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend. As poor Sheldon reports, “I have no idea how to get a good one or why.” This holiday seems unrealistic and arbitrary. It is the the outer world, or cultural, way to work with the idea of love. Maybe this is one example why Dr. Lad says, “Our love is a shoddy little affair.”
Often we engage in relationships with a give and take mentality, “I will do this for you and you do this for me.” This is one message we learn about love, as it is reflected back to us in our culture. We get attached to outcomes, worried we will “lose love,” and want to be validated by our loved ones that we are lovable. But, is that love?
I suppose it is all about our personal association to the word love. Our idea of love is shaped by our family history, cultural experiences and personal ideas on spirituality, intimacy, compassion, sex and relationships. If you study the Vedas, we would include to that list your past life samskaras, or impressions of experiences, from before this round of play on the Earth :) whew!
So, what does love have to do with us? When we practice self love it seems that our perspective on this idea of love changes. The Vedas say that compassion starts with loving yourself, but not in a “Generation Me,” pseudo–narcissistic manner. Rather, this idea of love is described as learning to accept who you are in the World, from a grown up, realistic manner, and then appreciating ALL of yourself. This seems like an easy idea to execute, but in truth, it is often challenging and creates agitation as it bumps up against our “walls” or outer mind. If we look to our culture to give us a “thumbs up” on who we are we will probably be disappointed. I believe it is all too true, what the sages say, the truth lies within us and so does love.
So, back to practice, to look within… maybe we look for moments when we are practicing compassion towards ourselves, and the more we do, the more we notice when compassion comes our way, and just maybe the more we will share that compassion and love with the rest of the World~
What is this all about? At the glitch between seasons, winter to spring, the body is best suited to cleanse and detox. In Ayurveda, we have a very specific way to work with seasonal cleansing; a process that does not leave us depleted, rather it leaves us clean and shiny from the inside out with abundant energy. We start with a pre-cleanse to get our mind on board with this idea of detoxing, followed by a specific diet that lasts about a week. We end with a week long post-cleanse to support and nurture ourselves, keeping the benefits of our cleanse moving forward.
Yoga International will be offering my BIG Spring Cleanse online this year! We will be together for 21days—online and with my ebook in addition to all the support practices, recipes and encouragement to keep you on track. We will be working together to detox our body and mind; pruning away habits that no longer serve us and evacuating the “goo” or ama that often keeps us imbalanced. When we sleep poorly, or not at all, lack concentration and have trouble focusing, feel sluggish or no motivation, have skin or joint issues, put on weight, get seasonal allergies or have trouble with digestive issues we know it is time to cleanse. Please join us so we can support each other and cleanse together ~ more details to come…
When to let them walk away, and when to help them push through.
Yep, the “P” word, Parenting!
Okay, so I now have three teenagers: 19, 17 and 13-year-old people who I love dearly and they love me. I am the mom. They are the children. This is a clear line in my house as I have had the privilege of being trained by many clients when I was a therapist at the amazing Clifford Beers Child Guidence Clinic of New Haven, CT. I had 100’s of teachers between the ages of 4 and 18 who taught me about what happens when the parent/child line is not clear. While it seems like “being a pal” it is better for all, do not be fooled, it is not better for the children. I say this with a certainty due to being reminded by my teenagers of how much they think I do a rotten job of “momming” (at times) and how safe and loved they tell me they feel (at times). I think the Psych Sage, Alice Miller, would have agreed…and that is “Good Enough” for me!
What does this have to do with ayurveda? Yoga? EVERYTHING. Learning when to walk away, surrender to it, because the lesson learned is a skill set not all of us possess. I wonder if sometimes our parents had us “push through” to build character and this got integrated as an “all the time” activity. And some of us, the ones with the “fun” parents, were not supported to have to “push through”. This means they do not have that skill set to rely upon when the lesson becomes a fire or tapas thus they keep working on the same lesson over and over again…creating samskara or a deep impression. This samskara is a bad habit at the least and a psychological shadow or obstacle over lifetimes.
Still confused about the yoga and ayurveda link? Both yoga and ayurveda recommend meditation as a tool to promote self awareness, to develop consciousness, and to commune with the Divine. Meditation helps us practice aligning ourselves more with our adi guru or inner teacher than the voices in the outer world. This is key to a healthy mind or a balanced mindset with Sattva or clarity at the center. With Sattva at the center we have the support of movement or rajas and stability or tamas as smaller side bars to help us live in this World. Both yoga and ayurveda offer us many practices to work, or to clear the dust (tamas) off Sattva and ground the movement of rajas so we can help ourselves, and our children, DISCERN when it is time to surrender and when we need to put our all into it (to practice tapas), hard work and push through.
Now, go do those belly down backbends so you can sit for meditation with ease :)
When Vata elements (light, mobile, rough, dry, cold, hard) start to rise we can become imbalanced from our nature. This increased vata can cause us to act impulsively. This can be a problem.
When we talk about impulsivity, it often gets romanced into the idea of spontaneity. These are not the same—no really, they are not!
When we act impulsively we simply react to a thought without any awareness. The thought enters your mind to change the subject to tell a story you love. (cough, cough) The person speaking cannot finish their thought and this is disruptive. It might cause agitation in the other or be jolting. Spontaneous activity is unplanned, but not jolting and is generally a response to a thought. Impulsivity is a reaction to a thought.
Sometimes it is difficult to understand the “gunas” or (qualities of the doshas) in our behaviors. The major difference here is consciousness and elemental. The vata impulsivity is hard and light. The spontaneous response to your thought is light as well but soft.
Finding balance, understanding the “pause” between your impulse to act and taking action offers vata a chance to practice sattva… the quality of mind that offerces clarity, calm and balance.
When I think of this I think of taking a breath between my inital impulse to take action, or comment and then considering the thought again. Thus becoming spontaneous in action without the rub of impulsivity.
(Inhale) Impulsivity is reactive and (Exhale) Spontaneity is responsive.
So, the other day I was trying to find a word while teaching my 9am Psych 111 class. I was attempting to explain a concept with regard to memory. George Carlin would have chuckled…
I later recalled the word while I was walking my dogs, Tennessee and Bruticus. The word had NOTHING to do with my dogs, walking, or picking up after them. While walking my dogs I also remembered that I forgot to pay a bill.
What was happening to my thinking process can be explained via may theories: yoga psychology, neuroscience, learning theory… and Ayurvedic wisdom around digestion, assimilation and evacuation. I had ama in the mind.
Now we all get a little ama from time to time. Eating that popcorn at the movies with the “butter” (aka thick oil that is non-biodegradable), lunch at the computer, that peach-yogurt-protein and honey smoothie; all taxing to our Agni and over time can create poor digestion which leads to ama in our bodies.
Over time, the ama will continue to penetrate our physical body via the connective tissues like plasma and blood. This will spread the ama around and eventually the plasma in the synaptic cleft, between our dendrites and neurons, will be impacted.
WHAT? Yes, it is true.
There is good news. This takes time and if we are doing our dinacharya or daily cleansing, along with mostly living in relation to the Ayurvedic clock the likelihood of mental goo is low….but, there are always those months where we fall off the job. We “take some time off” from our practice so that ‘daily’ looks more like ‘a few days a week.’
Keep at it, and know that you will still loose a word here and there; especially the Vata-dominant folks. Those folks will, however, use that moment to creatively find a new word and/or song to fill the void. The pitta’s will go and study the word some more and find other ideas to broaden out the concept. The kapha’s will laugh at themselves and whistle.
Ahhh, mental goo be gone! What is the best remedy? Daily practice and joy.
What does EOC mean to us…it sounds like something I say to my children when I enter their rooms, “This looks like the edge of chaos!” It is not in fact the “EOC” it is simply a teenagers lack of interest in bending over and picking up yesterday’s jeans.
One way of understanding the EOC idea is from the world of neuroscience. More specifically the world of neuroscience and ayurveda. In the book, “Neuroanalysis” by Avi Peled, the concept of brain dynamics optimization looks at the “edge of chaos” and sees the health of being in this state.
The Vata-dominant folks reading this should be jumping for joy :), the Pitta’s want to know “why” and the Kapha’s are hoping for a recipe for a soothing tea :) actually all of us will find this idea supportive to our daily process in the physics of optimal brain function!
The idea of the edge of chaos is an elegant balance state between stability and instability. We function best at this state of optimal adaptation; we find it easier to both adapt to change and to becoming more steady. We can move in or out of an association between internal and external states of functioning. We can maximize the idea of complexity while keeping up with our connectivity!
When at the edge of chaos we are best able to move into a solution for one aspect of our rational problem solving while effecting other aspects of problem solving in a parallel manner. The decision we make to move in one direction supports the movement of all our elements into a useful direction or rhythm. We become harmonious; like beautiful jazz~
In ayurvedic terms, we are in a balanced state for our Prakruti; in alignment with our constitutional self and thus can move with ease in any and all directions without pulling ourselves out of balance!
I believe the word you’re looking for right now might be a word from that sage of simplicity, Andy Griffith: SHAZAM!!!
Do you use Gmail?
If you do, you will have noticed that Gmail changed it’s interface. Instead of having one inbox screen, you now have three inboxes separated into tabs. You have one tab called Primary, one called Social and one called Promotions. Email from firstname.lastname@example.org is likely landing in your Promotions tab. All you have to do to get these emails to show up in your Primary tab is just to drag and drop it from one tab to the other.
Here’s a tutorial:
Join me in Dallas, TX on Sunday, January 12, 2014 for Sex & Stress: Women’s Health & Ayurveda
ABOUT THE SEMINAR
Understanding sex hormones/stress hormones and their impact on health at various cycles in a woman’s life!
What are the doshas and how do they impact our hormonal balance and ease of daily living? Why should we care about standing on our heads or restorative yoga on a bolster? Why rub oil all over our bodies and take bitter tasting herbs? What is in it for us????
As Kathryn says; “Oh, sister! Enjoyment in your mind, ecstasy in your body and a free spirit… now, how does that sound? Come check out what the hoopla is all about!”
DETAILS & REGISTRATION
When: Sunday, January 12, 2014
Link to Register
Sammons Center for the Arts
3630 Harry Hines Boulevard
Dallas, TX 75219