I love the term rituals; it creates a sense of sacredness in my mind. A group of daily mindful activities that you are committed to performing to connect your mind, body and spirit for overall wellbeing and purpose. Rituals and routines support your health, keep you grounded, keep you nurtured and they keep your doshas balanced!
Taking time to nurture yourself is also an act of ultimate love, which is vital if you wish to be truly happy. Self-love comes above all else in my books, as, it is when you love yourself enough that you actually find long term peace and deep connections with others.
If you fail to nurture yourself by means of sufficient rest, spiritual growth and overall wellbeing, there is absolutely no way you can support others adequately. How do you fill another’s cup if yours is a few drops from empty? By offering acts of love and directing conscious thoughts of love upon yourself, you can breathe this upon others without using up yours.
Ayurveda offers many simple practices which support the concept of nurturing and loving yourself via rituals, all of which can also take on a sacred spiritual act if practiced with intention and commitment. These mindful activities are based around Ayurvedic principles for self-care and healing and can be modified to suit your world and body type.
These everyday tools allow you to be proactive in your healthcare rather than wait to for the symptoms to appear and medications or therapy to get you through until the next round. Also, knowing that one of the root causes of all disease is improper digestion, we can understand that looking after our digestive system and included organs is a vital part of healing health imbalances, weight issues and our emotional/spiritual wellbeing.
Here are some of my favourite ancient Ayurvedic practices which can fit into our modern life with simplicity and ease:
Warm Water with Lemon:
Warm water aids digestion, so starting your day with a warm drink and a few drops of lemon essential oil is a perfect way to start your digestive fire. Sipping warm water during the day is also recommended. You can always add natural flavours such as wild orange and lime (either using the citrus fruit or if you are comfortable using the essential oil which is generally cold pressed form the rind) for additional therapeutic benefits such as balancing the ph. level of your body and emotional mood enhancements.
Triphala is one of the most important herbal remedies in Ayurveda as it services as a very powerful detox of the digestive tract whilst rejuvenating the entire body. It is made up of three herbs and balances all constitutional types. It is full of a huge range of nourishing vitamins and minerals, plus offers a strong cleansing action. There is a saying in India that if an Ayurvedic practioner knows how to use triphala properly he/she can heal any disease. Take triphala daily but be sure to listen to how it makes your body feel, or consult a practitioner.
Neti is a system of nasal irrigation, or cleansing that keeps the nasal passages free of dust, pollen and other irritants from the air. The mucus membrane and linings in the nasal cavity are our first line of defence when air enters the body. We want to ensure they are supporting our immune system – common dryness and inflammation are a huge contributor to congestion and allergies.
The nose is the direct path to the brain and your consciousness. It is where prana (life force) enter the body. Hence, uncongested breathing is important to ensure proper flow of prana throughout the head and body. Cleansing the mucus linings in the throat and nose are also important in supporting mental clarity and a calmer nervous system.
Using salt water (saline solution) and a neti pot is an easy practice to include in your self-care ritual. You can also look to use medicated nasya oil (not essential oils on their own) to sooth and protect the nasal passages and relieve sinus congestion following neti. Nasya is medicated oil made of brain tonic herbs, eucalyptus oil and a sesame or olive oil base. It’s advised to wait a day or so after using your neti pot before lubricating the nasal passage with nasya and massage.
For the Love of Kitchari:
I love the feeling after a day of fasting on kitchari, a dish of rice and mung beans with a bunch of digestive and dosha balancing herbs tossed in the mix!
Kitchari is a wonderful all-rounder as it has the ability to balance all dosha types and the ability to support healing, digestive health and overall wellbeing. It makes fasting a nourishing experience, you feel grounded and loved after a day of eating this dish. Eating kitchari can help you reduce bloating, clear your mind, increase your agni (digestive fire), support you in letting go of attachments to food and naturally allowing your body to heal.
Consuming such an easily digestible mix of food, which offers adequate protein and a limited range of food from various food groups, provides the body with time to rest the digestive system. Why is this important? Well, when your body is not working as hard at digesting a huge range of different, or heavily processed foods, it is able to send its energy to other parts of the body and work on healing and nurturing rather than constantly digesting.
I am going to write a dedicated blog post on this topic as I seem to be getting loads of questions on this little winning formula and it’s important when looking at a fast to do it in a way that is suitable for your constitutional type and support any known medical conditions.
Self-oil Massage (abhyanga):
Getting oily is one of my favourite things plus the benefits are insane and the aromas delicious. Use oil suited to your body type; otherwise warm sesame oil is good for all constitutional types. Apply the oil all over your body before a warm shower to enhance the oils ability to penetrate into the deeper joints and tissues. Massage away and enjoy!
Self-massage is an amazing way to get to know and love your body plus it services to calm the nervous system, strengthen joints/tissue and stimulate internal organs. Add some magical essential oils to support different ailments and emotions you may be experiencing. i.e. floral oils such as lavender, geranium and rose are amazing for the skin and to relax & cool the system.
Eat, Sleep and Work at the Same Time:
This is a simple way to get your body back into sync. Daily routine (dinacharya) helps us function well consistently. Without it we become stressed, frazzled, tired and anxious. I would consider just adjust your routine slightly with the seasons.
Eat a Good Breakfast:
Igniting your digestive fire first thing in the morning sets the tone for your day. So make wise choices to boost your digestion rather than extinguish it. Breakfast congee is a great grain based porridge which has been used for centuries to support and heal the body. Slow cooking grains or soaking them overnight supports easy to digestion and you can add various spices and flavours depending on own tastes, constitution and symptoms.
Yoga, Breathing and Meditation:
Well we all know I am big on this stuff! Why? Because a nourishing spiritual practice helps you develop positive change and growth. Whatever the path and whatever you believe in, a spiritual practice helps connect body, mind and spirit with the greater universal energy.
Part of this spiritual practice can be prayer or meditation. For me personally I chose meditation which is closely entwined with yoga and breathing practices, they are actually one of the same. They all work to help free the mind from ego and the illusions of daily life, whilst supporting the body physically and spiritually.
Yoga helps us stay strong, yet light & functional. It also connects movement with breath. Breathing helps us slow the nervous system, calm the chattering mind and reach a deeper state of meditation. Meditation helps connect us with our primal consciousness and follow our true path. These three (yoga, breathing, meditation) combine to offer us one for the greatest daily rituals for our overall wellbeing and happiness.
Release Negative Emotions and Thoughts:
The deep connection between our emotional and physical wellbeing is so apparent. We know only too well that if we are sad or anxious we may lose our appetites or if we are stressed we get heart burn… our emotions largely affect our digestion and hence our overall health.
Letting go of emotional baggage and un-processed emotions is vital in ensuring our digestive processes are working smoothly and we are not headed down the road to chronic illness. There are many ways to do this such as effective communication and honesty, sound healing, reiki and counselling. Plus many of the above practices (yoga and meditation) can support this process as well.
Changing the way you think and talk can also alter your vibrational frequency. This frequency attracts objects, people, things and thoughts of the same frequency so keep them high! Recently a beautiful colleague of mine shared a new concept, a slightly new way to create positive thinking and attract what you desire into your world. The idea is a new term called “afformations” rather than “affirmations.
How often have you repeated an affirmation such as “I am a successful entrepreneur” or “I am a wonderful committed mother/father” only to have your mind disbelieving the statement whilst trying to convince yourself it is true. Rather this new concept suggests if we ask … “Why and I am I successful entrepreneur”, you immediately start to answer the question with the amazing reasons why you are.
It’s a much more powerful approach as you know that you work passionately towards your goals, you know that you follow an ethical path, you know that you have put in the hours, the planning and the training…. All these small things you know you do, are what makes you a great entrepreneur. So this question makes it easy for your subconscious to truly believe that you are just that.
Ayurveda is a whole lifestyle; it’s not just about the herbs and the cleansing remedies. It’s simple, yet complex and available for us all to incorporate as we will, into our modern lives. These are just a few of the simple ways you can bring ancient wisdom into your world. I’ll be sure to bring more to you over the coming months.
As I continue to study the subject I feel love and sadness. Love for the wisdom, sadness that we in the West got so lost along the way. Yet I celebrate the mass awakening that is happening as I type. xx
Image: Watercolour by Emma Plunket. Disclaimer: Please note I am not a doctor so please consult your doctor before incorporating any herbs and oils into your diet or lifestyle which may affect current medications.