Ayurveda Day 99: Love is Freedom

So I have been on a hiatus as it seems. Months since my last post. Life has been extremely busy, stressful, challenging. Now this blog, as I enter my internship seeing clients, will become sporadic, and be about whatever I wish!

There is a freedom in that. No obligation, no expectation. But also a sort of fear. A fear of falling away from writing – something I love dearly. But that is what comes with all freedom. Freedom gives us the space we need to do whatever we wish, without any chains or bars to hold us. But it also gives us uncertainty, demanding we surrender to the will of the universe and what it has planned for us.

This is the true nature of freedom. Freedom is just another word for love.

Love is freedom.

So often in this life when we love we put attachments, judgments, and our fears and insecurities into the other person. We are so afraid of losing what we have, or showing our scars, or being vulnerable, that we make every effort to sabotage ourselves.

But sometimes, these sabotages can take the form of things we see as noble, or values. Perhaps our attachments and expectations come in the form of “what’s best” for the people we love. But chains made of gold are no better than chains made of steel. They are still just chains in the end.

The mind is a powerful servant, but a dangerous master. When we choose to love with conditions, we become a slave. Our mind controls us, masters us, and demands everything. It places chains on us, puts us behind bars, and traps us.

We get used to our prison and our warden. We even find ways to navigate and find some twisted way of existing – we feel that in the end the mind is just locking us away to protect us…and we have every reason to be afraid! The world is a big and scary place. Scariest when your heart is open.

But it is in that open heart that freedom is found. When all chains have been cut and all bars have been removed, the heart is truly free. Free to be one’s own master. The heart guides us where we need to go, telling us to surrender. The mind becomes our servant, and we feel a love that connects us to more than just attachments. We feel an all encompassing love that connects us to everything. We don’t just feel love.

We are love.

But when this true self emerges and you become love, you become a harsh reminder to the rest of the world of what they have been hiding from. You become the most dangerous thing to everyone else who is locked behind the bars and chains of their mind: You become freedom.

There is a lonely liberation in this becoming. You simultaneously feel connected to all of creation, and yet so many will be afraid of you!

But if you are strong enough to not let your mind take over, and keep surrendering to the will of the universe, letting go of all attachment…then you will see the truth of it all.

One of the first things I learned when I started this journey was from my instructor, Marisa Larsen, whom I have quoted before:

“There’s love and there’s forgetting there’s love and that’s it!”

You are love. Love is freedom.

Be free!

Be love.

With gratitude,

 

S

 

 

 

 

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Ayurveda Day 98: Heart Disease

Heart disease is a  serious problem in North America. It is the cause of almost 25% of deaths in the United States, and is the leading cause of death for both men and women!

It’s often overlooked for funding in favour of other illnesses for whatever reason – but Ayurveda can help us to understand it better.

So how do we treat heart disease if it’s such a serious risk to so many of us? How can we prevent it? The great thing about Ayurveda is that the answer is always the same regardless of the disease, as you will read more on in a moment. But let’s take a look at heart disease from an Ayurvedic perspective first.

According to the Madhava Nidanam (an ayurvedic text), heart disease is caused by impure lymph that returns to the heart and causes chest pain.

There are also several psychological components that go with this disease.

Vata

Causes:

Grief, excessive exercise, ignoring natural urges (urination for example), and a vata vitiating diet (drying foods).

Symptoms:

Sense of emptiness, trembling, cramps, feeling of being torn

Treatment:

Soothe and fill the emptiness – this means taking warm and moist foods, tonifying herbs (best are bala and arjuna) in medicated ghee or oil, bastis (enemas), vamana (induced vomiting), and oleation (under supervision of a CAS).

Pitta

Causes:

Stress, alcohol, anger, over-exposure to sun, and pitta vitiating diet (heating foods: spicy, fried, greasy)

Symptoms:

Burning chest pain, thirst, giddiness, perspiration, bitter taste in mouth

Treatment:

Cool and calm the intensity – cool substances and foods, tonifying herbs (best are bala and arjuna) in medicated ghee, induced diarrhea, bastis (enemas), and vamana (induced vomiting) if necessary (all under the supervision of a CAS).

Kapha

Causes:

Sedentary lifestyle, excessive sleep, inadequate mental exercise, kapha vitiating diet (heavy, dense, rich, moist foods)

Symptoms:

Heaviness in chest, slow heart beat, anorexia (loss of appetite or taste), stiffness, drowsiness

Treatment:

Relieve the stagnation – a diet of light, dry, and warming substances, increasing downward energy, cleansing the body via urination and sweating, herbal churnas (arjuna and triphala), vamana (induced vomiting), virechana (induced diarrhea), and basti (enemas) (all under the supervision of a CAS).

You may notice a common thread in a lot of treatments in Ayurveda. Often, for multiple pathologies, the treatment is the same. Why is this?

Although the herbal formulation may vary for symptomatic relief, in the end the doshas are the doshas.

Every disease has a vata version, pitta version, and kapha version. We always treat vata, pitta, and kapha, from the same perspective.

Vata disease is caused by dryness in the body and too much movement in the mind.

Pitta disease is caused by too much heat in the body and intensity in the mind.

Kapha disease is caused by stagnation in the body and not enough mental exercise.

But this a blessing. It means that knowing your doshas, knowing the doshas of the disease, and knowing the doshas of the treatment allow us to help you to heal in the fullest way possible as well as the simplest.

No matter what disease you have, we are always going to work on a vata’s dryness, or a pitta’s heat, or a kapha’s stagnation. It’s just that simple. We just have many different tools to accomplish this.

So in preventing heart disease or any other disease for that matter, it’s always about getting your doshas in balance. This is ultimately what will make you healthy and strong to lower your risk factors across the board.

With gratitude,

S

Ayurveda Day 97: Highest Forms of Healing for Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

Today I would like to talk about ways to heal the doshic imbalances within us. In this blog I focus on certain fundamental tools we can use to help us balance the doshas:

– proper diet

– herbal remedies

– following eating guidelines

– pranayama

– meditation

– daily practices

Doing these things are great ways to reduce symptoms, maintain health, and prevent further doshic imbalance.

However, these aren’t really speaking to the fundamental cause of disease.

There are three main causes of disease:

– misusing our senses

– making poor choices

– decay due to time and motion

Underlying all of this is one fundamental cause to disease that causes us to go out of balance in these three areas in the first place: forgetting our true nature: as one, as spirit, as god, connected to all of existence…whatever you want to call it. It basically means surrendering the ego (that which makes us feel separate from everything else).

Each of us can develop certain imbalances regardless of our constitution – this is known as vikruti. It basically means that if I eat a lot of hot, spicy foods and am constantly bitter and angry about everything, I will have high pitta. This is unavoidable, even if I have a lot kapha in my inherent constitution. We are not immune to the effects of the doshas.

But our constitution, known as our prakruti, lays the way for our tendencies to show up. If I have a lot of vata in my prakruti, I will be more likely to lean towards talking quickly, being enthusiastic, have poor circulation, etc. I will tend towards vata in my life.

It is important to remember however that we are all three doshas. And having balanced health does not mean having equal parts of vata, pitta, and kapha, all at 33.3%. Within each dosha, there are healthy aspects and unhealthy aspects.

For example:

Pitta types are prone to anger, but make great leaders.

Vata types are prone to anxiety, but are great visionaries.

Kapha types are prone to stagnation, but are extremely supportive.

Balance within each dosha is about understanding which traits are moving us towards health and focusing on those. It’s about using the dosha as a tool rather than it using us. But if we do actions in life mindlessly, we will always lean towards the unhealthy aspects.

For vata, pitta, and kapha, there is one fundamental practice that each can do. When I list these, you will immediately resonate with one more than the others. This is a sign of your largest internal struggle, and what you need to focus on. Ultimately, we need to do all three of these practices. But focusing on that one will tend to balance the others as well.

Vata

Vata types experience a lot of fear, worry, and anxiety in life. They fantasize about the future and dwell on the past. They have a hard time believing that things will be okay.

The highest healing practice for a vata is to cultivate faith. Faith that everything is alright, that nothing is wrong. Faith that everything they require is in the present moment. Just unwavering faith. Faith is the cure for fear. Have faith my vata friends!

Pitta

Pitta types experience much anger. A pitta sees everything as a problem that they can fix. You will often be able to pinpoint a pitta based on their speech: “If everyone just did ______, then we wouldn’t have this problem!”. They see clearly all the problems and all the solutions – it makes no sense to a pitta how others can’t see what they see.

The highest healing practice for a pitta is to practice non-judgment. The truth is, that there is no problem. Practice non-judgment. Accept that things are perfect the way they are!

Kapha

Kapha types get attached to things so easily. They have a hard time letting go. A kapha is the kind of person that will be in a burning room and when they see it catch fire will say “it’s not so bad”. Then the fire will engulf the walls and the ceiling and they will say “it’s getting hotter in here”. Finally, when the chair they are sitting on is on fire, they will finally say “Maybe it’s time to leave!” Kapha types stagnate due to their attachment to things. It takes them a long time to change.

The highest healing practice for a kapha is to strive for non-attachment. This doesn’t mean detachment. Detachment implies they are already attached! By then, it will take a lot for them to detach! A kapha must not become attached in the first place, accepting that change is natural and holding onto things won’t make them any better. A womb is a great example – it provides everything for the baby to grow and thrive. But at some point, the baby must leave the womb, or it will become a tomb. So practice non-attachment!

The truth behind these practices: to have faith for vata, to practice non-judgment for pitta, and to practice non-attachment for kapha, is that having that inner dialogue connects us more with our higher self. It sheds the skin of the ego that seeks to be more separate in it’s own vata, pitta, and kapha ways. This train of thought of faith, non-judgment, and non-attachment heals us at our fundamental and spiritual layer.

Whenever a vata feels afraid, rather than continue down that spiral, they learn to say “have faith.” Now they won’t in fear grab the foods that will imbalance them, forget to do their daily practices, etc.

Whenever a pitta feels critical, judgmental, they instead say to themselves “practice non-judgment. There is no problem.” Now they will have a much clearer picture and can make better choices for their health.

Whenever a kapha feels too attached and stagnates, they instead must remind themselves “practice non-attachment”. As they have fewer things they are attached to, they will feel the freedom to move and end the stagnation. They will be able to change and become healthy.

Studies have shown that stressed people tend to make poor choices for their health – they grab the donut instead of the veggies from the veggie tray. Changing our inner dialogue trains us so that when we become stressed, we are overriding the ego’s programming and reprogramming a pathway to our higher self.

Have faith. Practice non-judgment and non-attachment.
With gratitude,

S