By Myra Lewin
The steps to a fulfilling and healthy life are simple: Eat food filled with prana. Sit down each day to connect with the God of your heart. If you get sick, slow down and come back to balance. Find gratitude, whether life is easy or challenging. And always live according to your truth, no one else’s.
These steps may be simple, but few people walk this path. In fact, if you were to follow an average person around, you will likely find them living in quite the opposite manner. But most average people experience below average health and happiness. You can choose something different.
Living Ayurveda and Yoga is as much about finding health and well-being as it is about expressing who you really are. With these practices, life can be fulfilling, enjoyable and rewarding -- but, be prepared, it will be a different experience from most people around you.
Normal isn’t always natural
What is considered normal in modern living is often far from natural. For instance, it is normal to see people eating with a phone in their hand or opting for fast food on a busy day instead of making kitchadi. But it is natural for us to honor this time of eating, to seek connection to all other living things through our food -- from the soil that nourished it to the hands that prepared it.
When you connect to your higher self, you’ll see clearly that doing what is normal will not always guide you to feel and look your best. Even when this is clear, the habits of the mind can take over and the fear of breaking away from the crowd appears. Suddenly, following what others are doing seems like the safest option.
If you want true health, there is no way that you cannot break away from the crowd. Face the fear of being different and you will find the courage to be yourself. The tools of Yoga and Ayurveda will help you reach this. Practice such as kick and float allow you to overcome fear and move a step closer to the divine that resides within you.
Embrace who you are and health will follow
I work with many clients who are desperate for their lives to be better. As I share ideas about sattvic foods to eat or creating a dinacharya (daily routine) that will allow them to support their personal growth, some people resist the changes. It seems to them that living according to the rhythms of nature might cause them to lose friends. But what opportunities are gained by living according to other people’s standards? More importantly, what is lost by not following your own path?
When you embrace your true self and live in the way that you want to live, you feel better and get more out of each day. Your lifestyle may be different from your friends’ and family members’, but your relationships will be stronger and healthier because they are built from a foundation of your truth.
When you follow your path and no one else’s, you no longer have to be at the whim of the latest trend, whether it is the distraction of a new television show or a fixation on an expensive superfood that everyone is adding to their smoothies. You can do what feels fulfilling to you without worrying about what everyone else is doing.
Stop comparing and start living
Ayurveda recognizes that every individual is unique. The way each of us approaches life, food and healing should reflect that. Therefore, being different isn’t a bad thing -- it’s just the way life is. The challenge comes when you begin comparing yourself to others.
Whether you’re comparing yourself to your spouse, a friend or someone on television, remember that they are not walking your path, they do not have your karmas and constitution and therefore cannot have the same outcomes in life. If you pay attention to the lower ego, that voice that says you’re not good enough or as capable as the next person, it will trap you in a negative cycle and halt any progression. But you can have freedom from this cycle when you see a different direction.
Students in our Yoga teacher training do a simple exercise to release self-judgment and open the path to living according to their own standards. It’s called Fire the Judge, and you can do it today. Just draw a picture of the judge inside you. Give it a name and the characteristics that you recognize when this negative voice appears. Reflect on how this judge has kept you from doing what you are meant to do in this life. Then burn the picture to release the energy of this old habit of thinking. It’s a powerful and light hearted technique to learn how to trust yourself.
Joy comes from living according to your heart’s desire. You can either make yourself crazy by wondering what everyone else thinks about your choices or you can use each day as an opportunity to know yourself better and act in accordance. Let go of the comparison and self-doubt and do what feels right in your heart. Life will unfold beautifully.