Simple Ayurvedic Practices for an Overactive Mind
“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind―you are the one who hears it.”
~ The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
Yoga classes and meditation apps are everywhere. Their widespread popularization shines a light on a basic human struggle that has grown more profound over time—the unrelenting power of our overactive minds.
This struggle is not new: Many ancient religions united over the practices of meditation and prayer as ways to calm the mind. One of them, Ayurveda, a health system rooted in Hinduism, believes that the mind has tremendous power to heal the body and transform illness. Without awareness, humans move through the world in habitual motion that can cause stress and imbalance. By replacing habitual patterns with healthier practices and meditation, we can move toward a life full of balance and vibrant energy.
Go Deeper: Learn More About Ayurveda
Discover three simple Ayurvedic principals and practices to help to quell your monkey-mind and return to balance.
1) Connect With Nature
When we are able to slow down to discover our own inner nature, we begin to observe and appreciate the abundance of small miracles that happen without our control or effort; breathing, sleeping, healing, and sometimes even moving. By reconnecting with the nature that surrounds us and the nature that is with each of us, our minds begin to slow down and we enter the present moment, discovering the space in between that allows for peace and joy.
• Find a comfortable seat and observe your breath for 10 inhalations and exhalations. Notice how your whole body breathes itself.
• Take a short walk through undisturbed nature without your phone or music. Notice what happens to your mind as you slow down enough to observe the plants, animals and land formations around you.
2) Return to Your Body
Our bodies live in the present moment—it is only our minds that can travel through the past and into the future. Anytime we return to our bodies through exercise, self-care, or body scanning practices, we quiet our internal chatter and enter the present.
• Take 5-10 minutes to practice sun salutations or your favorite yoga postures. Coordinate your breath with your movement to focus the mind.
• Practice Abhyanga, the ancient ritual of Ayurvedic self-massage.
• Take 5 minutes to scan your body. Starting at the left toes and making your way up the left side of the body. Travel back down the right side of your body, letting go of tension and relaxing your body using the power of your mind.
3) Eat to Balance the Mind
Nutrition is fundamental to Ayurvedic philosophy. Everything we eat affects the body and the mind. When we are eating poorly and our bodies are not well, our minds tend to become aggravated. For example, if we are overheating on a sweltering summer’s day and we consume spicy food, we can imbalance pitta, leading to heated conversations, frustration, anger, or even rage.
Ayurveda provides a detailed and insightful view into human nutrition that observes our individual constitutions and the qualities of all of the foods we eat. Rooted in the six flavors of food, a simplified version of Ayurvedic nutrition suggests that if we eat all of the flavors throughout our day, we will find satisfaction and nourish our bodies.
The six flavors are: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Depending on your genetically influenced constitution and personal tendencies, you can incorporate more of some flavors and qualities than others to reach a state of balance.
• Plan a meal that includes all six flavors and enjoy your food mindfully.
• If your digestion runs hot and you are always hungry, plan for 3 meals and 3 snacks per day. If your digestion is sluggish, eat 3 lighter meals a day and add digestive herbs and spices like ginger to your diet.
Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash
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