Monthly Archives: November 2008

The Five Senses | 3 | Touch

The 3rd of the five senses is the sense of touch. If you haven’t read the first or the second senses, you may want to check those out first.

Our skin is our largest organ. It is both our buffer, our receptor and our absorber of the outside world. Whatever touches it, touches our heart, our mind and signals (good or bad) are sent to our entire being. It is no wonder then that we spend plenty of money for an hour or even better, a 90 minute massage. It’s a luxury for us because we are rarely touched or pampered like that. Touch is connected to vayu (vata, air and space) and the heart chakra, so it makes complete sense that this massage is the most nourishing therapy in Ayurveda. The warm oil brings grounding to the chilly air and space of vata and since vata is connected to the skin, this therapy makes sense.

When babies cry, we pick them up, hold them, rock them so that they feel safe and comforted. Well, I suppose it’s no new news (maybe just forgotten) that adults need the same thing! Have you ever hugged someone and they say, “oh, I needed that!” or you hug someone who’s having a rough time and they begin to cry? It’s because we’ve touched their hearts through the sense of touch. We may not notice how needed touch is until we get an unexpected hug or massage and remember how good it feels.

There are also nifty little things called srotas, which are subtle channels running through our bodies from head to toe. And through massage, we can help improve flow through the srotas, which affects ALL mind, body and soul. Since our skin is our body covering it is imperative that it gets just as much attention and nourishment as our insides.

When I get stressed out at work my manager sometimes puts her hand on my arm or shoulder. That simple gesture is so calming and helps me remember that I’m not alone in my problem. I recommend that to really connect with people (when appropriate), remember the sense of touch. If someone is telling you a secret, maybe grab their hand across the table so they know you are empathetic. A good “pat on the back” let’s someone know you are proud of them. A little rub on the upper back helps to relieve tension and conveys support for the other.

There are tons of ways you can lightly (not creepily) convey your feelings, thoughts and emotions through touch. So be creative and sincere.

A super simple recommedation is to give more hugs. Hugs don’t cost anything and a hug can change yours or someone else’s entire mood for the day. You directly connect to someone else’s heart energy. So give them freely and often to open your heart, and those around you.

You only have, You.

I have been thinking a lot about “stuff.” Like material stuff. Especially recently since the economy sucks and most of us have lost money in some way or another. And the most recent fires in LA causing people (even celebrities) to have to leave their homes. And what I realize is:

And that’s it. Celebrity or not, we are all energy beings who leave positive footprints in this lifetime, or not. So make sure you are happy with YOU. Because at any moment your “stuff” can be taken away from you. What sort of slapped me in the face over the past few months is how grateful I am for my loved ones (that includes friends and pets!) and their health. Those are the FIRST things to come to mind. Anyone who has had cancer in their family will tell you the same.

While there is weirdness in the world, and while you may be losing some “stuff,” you have not lost you. It always helps to come from a place of gratitude when dealing with being in a funky spot. If you want to really get to the root of what is important, run through a list of all the things you are grateful for. I bet you will find it has more to do with humanity than material things.

Something, anything can take your “stuff” and wipe you completely dry. When it’s all said and done, look in the mirror and make sure you are in love with YOU. I am. Yeah!

Ayurvedic Nutrition Guidelines

If you are beginning to look at your nutrition in a different way, below are some Ayurvedic nutrition guidelines. The guidelines have a lot to do with how you eat, not just what you eat – how you put into your body is just as important as what you put into your body. And as always, in Ayurveda nutrition is not generalized, it is personalized, so you will have to pay attention to what your body needs.

Eat according to your constitution. Not all foods are good for all constitutions. Bananas are great for vata, not at all for kapha. So know what your body can digest. I will go into detail in future nutrition segments, but for now see, vata, pitta, kapha

Follow the daily routine: light breakfast, big lunch, light dinner

Eat what’s in season. Seasonal vegtables and fruits are best, because it’s natural for them at this time of year…therefore it’s natural for us too. Macrocosm & microcosm.

Altogether avoid stale foods and processed foods. If you eat foods that are close to the source, you will take in more prana (life!). Lifeless foods equals lifeless nutrition.

Avoid ice or very cold water. It clogs channels and weakens our agni

Small sips of water with meal. Putting in too much water at meal time will weaken agni too. Sip water with your meal and then about an hour later have more water if you’re thirsty.

Fill the stomach only 3/4 full. 1/2 with food, 1/4 with liquid and leave 1/4 for space so the food can mix and digest. Overeating causes so many diseases because the body cannot digest all the food we put in there!

Don’t eat unless you have real hunger. If you are not hungry when it’s mealtime, then skip it. Your body is telling you that it is not done processing the last meal. In Ayurveda it’s OK to skip meals when you are not hungry.

Chew well. Pay attention to the food in your mouth. Chewing is the very first stage of digestion…teeth and saliva! Teeth break down food and send it on it’s merry way to the stomach. Please make it easy on your stomach and chew the food (32 times if you want to know!).

Not too much salt. It will increase your desire for more food, which can lead to overeating. Salt is yummy to our tongues so it will cause us to want more food than we need.

Be mindful. Focus on your meal and be mindful about eating. How often do you munch without realizing it? Putting your mind in your eating habits will help you realize real hunger and real fullness.

Don’t multitask and eat. How can your mind be in your food if you are doing 18 other things?

Feed someone else before feeding yourself. Even if it’s your dog.

Eat with a proper state of mind and bless your food. Gratitude is the quickest way to a healthy mind. Be thankful for the food you are eating and give it a quick, sincere blessing of thanks.

Bits of Wisdom {4}

Ayurvedic Nutrition Philosophy

Ayurvedic Nutrition Philosophy. Ayurveda looks at nutrition in a different way than we do in the western world, so let’s take a look at the Ayurvedic nutrition philosophy. Ayurveda looks at eating as a ritual that not only nourishes the body, but nourishes the mind and soul too. It is said that 90% of all disease comes from wrong diet and wrong eating rituals. In Ayurveda food is our medicine. It provides the building blocks to nourish and replenish the dhatus (tissues) which make up our entire physical foundation. One of the main differences between western nutrition and Ayurveda are calories. The don’t exist in Ayurveda! Rather we focus on the elements that are present in the foods we eat. Are they balancing or imbalancing to our prakruti (unique makeup of doshas)? How we DIGEST the food is the main concern in Ayurveda. Some of the differences between our conventional view of nutrition and the Ayurvedic viewpoint are below: There is lots and lots to discuss in the way of Ayurvedic nutrition. This is just the beginning, so I welcome you on a fabulous journey of learning about the food that will give you a healthy mind, body and soul.

Tracks of your Tears

When tears flow from the inside corners of our eyes, those come from a bitter place. Those tears are usually when we are angry or maybe resentful.

When tears flow from the outside corners of our eyes, those have more sweetness and are because of compassion, joy or grief.

Salty.

Salty! One thing I learned in a seminar at the NAMA conference is that we have way too much salt in our diet. Basically salt’s job is to compel us to take in more nutrients by making food tasty. But we have to be careful because that can easily result in overeating and weight gain.

Here’s what happens…salt increases desire in our sense of taste to such a level, that we just want more. We will go back for extra helpings even if we are no longer hungry, which results in overeating, weight gain and the accumulation of ama (undigested food, toxic).

Salt increases desire and sense of taste to such a level that our egos attach to the senses rather than to our soul. Because we are satisfying our desires rather than our souls, our ego says, “That was so good, give me more.” And then we get stuck in just satisfying our desires, over and over.

However, once excess salt is cut out of the diet, we stop going back for 2nd or 3rds because our bodies will be satisfied rather than our tongues wanting more salt. We become more satisfied with less and therefore weight is more likely to decrease and go back to it’s natural state.

So basically, we want the food to be pleasing, but not so overly tasty that we can’t control ourselves. Rather than salting, seasoning food with spices is the better way to go.

One cool thing about salt is that it reduces fear! For those with high anxiety, a salt lick can help!

(obviously nutrition is a HUGE part of life balancing because what you take in governs the body, mind and spirit. I am nervous and shy in starting to write about nutrition because there is so much. I ask for courage to start…because you all deserve to know about it)

Bits of Wisdom {3}

All disease starts with a disconnect of the spirit.

Interlocking Chain

I am taking a Pilates Mat course to aquire the required CEC’S (continuing ed.) to keep my ACE certification (personal training). And I had NO idea that the foundation of Pilates is the connection of body and mind to balance the physical body! I’d never considered Pilates because I have always done yoga. But I had no idea that the philosophies were so similar – in fact, I thought Pilates skipped the “mind” part of the exercise and that’s why there seems to be a mini rivalry between yoga and pilates. But not true (now I have no idea why the mini rivalry…maybe I will learn the differences as I go).

In fact, the more I read, the more I thought, “It’s too bad Mr. Pilates didn’t know about Ayurveda! He would dig it.”

So in my little Pilates booklet, there was an interesting blurb that said, “The body is designed as an ‘interlocking chain’ and any structural misalignment or imbalance will then create misalignments and imbalances in other areas of the body.”

Um, Yeaa-uh!! I was so glad to read this because that’s what happens! So, keep that little blurb in mind. One thing affects the other in our minds, bodies, and souls. Just like an interlocking chain or like a freeway system. If there is an accident on the freeway, the whole things stops, then traffic gets rerouted, and  side streets get jammed causing heaviness there. The coggs are all messed up. Same happens in our bodies.

By making right choices we can keep the coggs to a minimum. It all starts with the mind, then the body follows suit. Even Mr. Pilates agrees!