By Myra Lewin
I used to race cars, and fix them too. When I was about 14, back in east Tennessee, you could often find me at the garage, hanging with the mechanics, or riding the rolling hills. At that time, being behind the wheel or under the hood felt like freedom to me. I loved being a part of the action - hugging the curves of the road, leading the pack. I was small, young, plenty reckless, and clearly pretty in touch with my masculine energy.
Fall is a delight. Surrounded by warm, rich colours and crisp air it’s truly a joy to get outside and experience nature’s glow. It is a time when we feel compelled to ‘get down to business’ and put in effort to create the change we wish to see in our lives. Fall is also vata season when the wind dominates and bringing with it with it the energy of movement and change. However we can get carried away with this energy and take on too much. We may find ourselves spending excessive time in front of screens or splitting our attention between multiple activities at once, all in an effort to accomplish our goals. Excessive mental activity, coupled with the momentum of change we see in nature will tend to aggravate vata dosha and cause a state of imbalance. When we experience anxiety, sleeplessness and forgetfulness, we know that we need to take care of vata dosha.
By Myra Lewin
The Sahara belongs to the sun. Among the rolling dunes there was once the world’s largest lake, named Mega Chad, which evaporated over a thousand years ago under the sun’s relentless glare. But today the lake’s silvery remains sustain life half a world away. Each year wind blows mineral-rich dust from the dried Saharan lake bed all of the way to South America, where it fertilizes the lush greenery of the Amazon.
To gain an understanding of Earth’s intricate and fantastic ecological balance, one must examine the planet as a whole. The earth is a holistic system in which balance is sustained by the interaction of different elements. The human being is no different. To initiate true healing we must consider the person as a whole: mind, body and spirit.
In the summer months, it is common for tensions to grow, tempers to rise and patience to dwindle. These are just a few of the many signs of excess pitta dosha that are easy to get caught up in. However, if our goal is to have balance in body and mind, it’s important to remember that pitta, just like all the doshas, serves a positive purpose in our lives too.
Focusing only on the negative side of the doshas makes us lose sight of the direction we should be heading. This is why when I was writing the dosha lesson in Hale Pule’s 600-hour Ayurvedic health counselor program, I made a point to include the many positive aspects present when vata, pitta and kapha are well balanced. When we can talk about pitta in both its balanced and imbalanced states, we can more easily recognize what it feels like when life comes into balance, and quickly turn things around when we start to move away from that.
In the heat of summer, many people reach for iced beverages. At first thought, this makes sense. It’s hot outside and ice is cold. But go deeper -- what are ice and ice cold drinks doing to your digestive fire?
Agni, or digestive fire, is responsible for our digestion of food, emotions and experiences in life. Just like a fire, agni needs to be tended. When left to smolder or allowed to grow too strong, it will result in indigestion, symptoms of imbalance and eventually disease.
When agni is balanced, digestive fire is stronger in the cooler months and weaker when the weather is hot. This allows you to take in heavier foods in the winter so you can maintain a protective layer of tissue to stay warm. Whereas in the summer, you may be drawn to eat lighter meals.
What to eat when it’s hot
BY MYRA LEWIN
Go to your kitchen and open your pantry. Look inside your fridge and cupboards and everywhere else you store food. What you’ll likely find is enough food to last you for several months, perhaps even years.
Most of us who have access to computers or smartphones that allow us to read posts like this are not used to experiencing starvation. Yet the concept of being hungry brings up deep fear among many of my clients and students.
This trend is illustrated by a client I have been working with for several years. She had dealt with severe blood sugar fluctuations for most of her life. When she became hungry, she would feel dizzy and she feared she would pass out, though she never actually had. As a result, she had developed a tremendous fear of hunger. When I met her, she was eating about six times a day, and was emaciated, bloated and filled with fear about life. I supported her to move to eating three meals a day (and a small snack if appropriate). It only took about six months to calm her mind, ease her bloating and improve her ability to digest life. What surprised her most was that despite eating less frequently, she returned to a natural weight for her body.
What an incredible gift it is to be able to visit faraway places all over the world. In just a few hours, we can find ourselves immersed in new surroundings. Traveling allows us to learn much about how connected we are to one another despite our differences.
However, outside of opening our eyes to new ways of life, the ability to travel globally has also increased vata imbalance. If you’ve ever come home from a trip feeling spacey or depleted, that is excess vata at play.
Salt has been used worldwide for centuries. As the oldest form of seasoning, it is well known as a culinary staple. However, it may surprise you to learn that salt has also been used medicinally for thousands of years. It is a key ingredient in several classical Ayurvedic formulas, such as hingvastak, to promote digestion or clear congestion.
Despite the many benefits of this mineral, salt has been questioned and demonized by the modern medical system. But eliminating salt, or reducing it too much, can have great consequences.
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.