By Myra Lewin
A man came to stay with us at the urging of his wife, who is a regular guest. He was used to a diet of meat, spicy foods and alcohol and a busy lifestyle filled with things to do and see. After just a week of taking part in morning practices, meals of Ayurvedic food, and being surrounded by the natural world, he said with surprise that he felt 10 years younger.
The recovery that is possible through Ayurveda and Yoga is remarkable. As our guest found, making simple adjustments in what we eat, how we live and where we put our focus is enough to make a person find a new experience of being alive. Often times we do little more than remove what is getting in the way of health and inner peace. This allows us to use the senses wisely and start a journey to true health.
Each of us began in the womb -- a place where our senses were protected and our attention drawn inward. But when we were born, we entered a world with an onslaught of sensory experiences. There are billions of things to see, touch, taste, feel and hear. Most of them are not worth our attention.
Allowed to move unchecked, our senses pull us around, making us do things that are not always aligned to our greatest good. But when we bring our attention inside, withdrawing the senses (the Yogic practice called pratyahara), we learn to turn away from cravings and desires.
By Lisa Day-Lewis
As a mental health counselor working in a public school system, I am often challenged with not having effective immediate interventions for the children I work with. Through my education I was trained in therapies and techniques that were really designed to be delivered in weekly one-hour sessions over a period of months, beginning with rapport building and laying out a series of goals and objectives. Unfortunately the time I end up having to work with kids is typically only 5-20 minutes, and the goal is usually to get them back attending in the classroom. Truth be told, aside from the time limitations, I have often questioned the efficacy of many traditional Western counseling techniques when applied to kids. My question lies not so much in the techniques themselves, but in whether children are equipped to learn and utilize them. In today’s world, are we nourishing children in body and mind such that they will be successful at life, let alone school? That is the question that has led me to shift the focus of my interventions to incorporate Ayurveda.
The practices of Ayurveda allow us to prevent illness, but the science also has a lot to say about what to do in those times when you do get sick.
Illness is a time to take care of your body. It is a signal to slow down, rest and come back to balance. It is important to allow time for full recovery -- nothing else is more important. What you do during this time matters greatly in how fast you will heal and the level of health you will reach afterward. Until symptoms subside, let go of your daily responsibilities, stay in bed, avoid looking at computers or screens and, most importantly, eat only very simple foods.
Agni, digestive fire, is weak during illness, so you cannot digest the same kinds of foods you enjoyed before. Yet as you are healing, your body needs nourishment. Kunyi, a soupy rice cooked with mineral salt and ghee, offers a meal that is very easy to digest and perfect for times of illness.
By Lisa Åkesson Stryker
In the Swedish language we have a great word for being in the role of a victim, offerkofta. It basically means the victim sweater and unfortunately I put it on quite frequently. I forget how fortunate I am and get caught up in what I consider to be wrong or not good enough. At first “offerkoftan” feels warm and cozy, it makes me feel self-righteous and busy. I have something to do, a position to defend. I’m right about something, which means that someone else is wrong, and poor me who has to be the one to point it out and feel so taken advantage of.
But after awhile, the sweater feels itchy. I don’t really accomplish anything, I’m just sweaty and uncomfortable. The feeling spreads in my body and shows up in my posture. My head starts tilting forward, my shoulders slouch and my back hurts. Poor me.