We’re in a place right now that has us thinking about a Returning to Roots, if we aren’t already actively doing so. Returning to a place of simplicity and re-establishing the things that are most important to us, to our families, to our communities, and to the world at large.
The core of Ayurveda is a nesting place for this returning to roots and simplicity. I sum these up in three words: Movement, Nourishment, and Stillness. Living a life of wellness is about finding the balance of these three in ourselves and witnessing their play in the world around us. Ayurveda is the art of paying attention.
Nourishment is both its own gift and also finding the healthy balance point between movement and stillness. When in balance, these two nourish the body, mind, spirit, and senses. When unbalanced they can cause either problems of depletion or problems of excess.
There is also a need to balance each of these three individually. Of important note, each one of us is unique in our makeup and stage of life. Within each of these, we will have to find our personal balance and remember that our personal balance is likely not someone else’s. Just because it works for us or for so-and-so does not mean it will support us and vice versa, but Ayurveda’s greatest gift is taking our uniqueness into consideration for wellness.
Let’s look at these three individually:
MOVEMENT: The obvious will probably come to mind first. Exercise. Yes, the biggest aspect of this one is to find the appropriate movement for your biological body. All exercise isn’t the same, so we need to find our balance of stretching, strength, and sweat.
Movement initiates and kindles the little fires in the body for optimums tissue maintenance. We’ll talk about this a lot in the weeks to come, but just keep that little nugget in the back of your mind.
We also must consider movement in the form of breath-work to exercise and move the lungs. Movement that brings balance so that the energies of movement in the body are moving at the right rhythm in the right direction. Appropriate massage movement for your body; it’s likely that for optimum health you will need to massage your body with warmth and warm, nourishing oils. Aside: that might not be true right now, as spring is a time of accumulation and growth and we might not want to encourage that in our bodies with excess oil, but we’ll talk about that later (there’s a teaser about time factors in self care).
Think of all the movements that coordinate your physical body, your subtle body, and your mind.
STILLNESS: Sleep. Good, healthy sleep is an absolute no-excuses cornerstone of wellness and the most obvious of the stillness practices for wellness. Getting appropriate rest and establishing appropriate sleep rhythms is vital to health, wellness, and maintenance of the body. You might be able to “get away with” not sleeping appropriately, or think that your makeup is a night owl-y and part of your nature, but…it’s not. Truly, it’s not. That’s a habit and it’s without a doubt undermining your optimum wellness. If it’s not “biting you” yet, it will in some way at some time. Sleep is a cornerstone. We will also touch deeper on sleep in the future.
Other forms of stillness come in variations on “meditation”. We could talk forever about mediation and “meditation”. I’ll keep it simple and you can explore variations on mediation if so inclined (we will touch on this more in the future as well). There are as many forms of mediation as there are people and all come with their benefits. You might enjoy a sweet guided meditation visualizing a walk along a deserted beach or visualizing your body healing itself of blockages and pain. You might be practicing a “withdrawing of the senses” from the outside stimuli (sensory impressions that drive desire). You might use breathing to bring you to the connection and quiet within. You might meditate in silence and allow for what comes up or use mantra, prayer, candle gazing, mudra, chant, song, or beads as a focal point. You might be drawn to mediation for physical and mental wellness or for deep spiritual work. It is important to find some form of daily stillness.
I’ve become quite fond of sitting, rambling, and sauntering forms of stillness where I allow nature to do the work for me. I find it a sweet form of all three of these roots of health: movement, stillness, and NatureNourishment. Which now brings us to…
NOURISHMENT: This includes all types of nourishment. Nourishing the body mind, senses, and soul/self. Food is the most obvious: what foods are your nourishing your body with? Are you choosing a majority of in season, healthy foods in a variety of colors and tastes? Or are you choosing a majority of packaged food devoid of life and Prana? Diet is a cornerstone of wellness and we’ll be focusing on food nourishment this month.
That said, we also must consider subtler forms of nourishment. What are you feeding your senses? What are you listening to? What are you watching? What forms of touch are you engaging in? Smelling (if this sounds like an odd question, consider how it is to walk down the chemical aisle of the grocery store)? Tasting? Is your sensory intake nourishing?
What are you feeding your mind? What are you feeding your emotions? What media are you choosing to watch? What types of movies, shows, and entertainment? What are you reading? What are you engaging with on social media? Are you finding nourishment for your mind?
Sleep and movement done properly balance nourishment. All choices in life either nourish, deplete, or overload.
Have you found the balance of nourishment, stillness, and movement?
PAUSE AND PRACTICE: Take some time to write out what is supporting to you in each of these three categories and what is not supportive. Be honest. There’s nothing to change or do; this is simply an exercise in awareness and exploration. Simply explore without judgement or the need to “fix” anything. Simply write. Then close the book. For now.