The “new normal” we are all living with takes a toll on both the body and the mind. It makes sense, then, to look to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda which emphasizes the mind-body connection. In Ayurvedic medicine, treatments are centered around your dosha, or type, which takes into account both your physical profile and personality. Remedies focus on restoring balance for overall health and vibrancy. In a time when stressors come from so many directions, let Ayurvedic rituals guide you in building healthy coping strategies.
Creating Your Sacred Space
Ayurveda teaches us that clarity is key. Clearing out clutter, both mental and physical, will make room for what serves you. Go ahead and toss out everything else. What baggage are you hanging on to that causes you stress? Remove it and release it. Create a space that is based on pure intention, including only the things that support you in relaxation.
Science has shown that mess negatively affects our mental health. In this article, The New York Times reports on a large body of research linking clutter to a number of problems including higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and a general dissatisfaction with life.
Since the onset of the pandemic, we are spending more time at home than before and that has led to extra clutter. Clearing a room, or even a corner, is a small thing you can do right now that will make a big difference to your stress level. Once you have cleared a physical space, you can utilize it for Ayurvedic practices like yoga and meditation which will help to clear mental clutter as well.
The practice of meditation is a cornerstone of Ayurveda. The Journal of Psychosomatic Research published an analysis showing the potential of mindfulness-based meditation to improve a wide range of both mental and physical issues. Within Ayurveda there are numerous tools to facilitate in meditation from breath work to mantras to mala beads. Finding the strategies that work best for you will unlock the potential of the practice.
As with most every Ayurvedic tool, the way you meditate can be tailored to your specific needs, helping you to find balance in a world of chaos. This article from The Chalkboard explains more about attuning your meditation practice to your dosha. Another great resource is this blog from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. They offer practical advice for trying out different meditation practices.
Like meditation, practicing yoga has been shown to dramatically reduce stress. A 2005 study found that in just three months, participants in a yoga program reported a dramatic decrease in stressful feelings and an improved sense of well-being. Some could argue that yoga is the ultimate Ayurvedic ritual for wholistic wellness, as it addresses mind, body, and spirit simultaneously.
While in-person yoga classes may be on hold, there are many resources out there to guide you in developing an at-home practice. Check out this blog from SELF which lists the best YouTube channels for free yoga. If you are interested in going in depth and learning about yoga, take a look at the Kripalu Center’s blog which covers a range of topics surrounding contemporary yoga and Ayurveda.
Take a Break
With the barrage of news and media coming at us the minute we look at our phones, it’s no wonder most of us feel stressed. It may sound simple, but one of the most effective ways to tame that stress is to tune out. Taking some time away from social and news media may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to stress reduction. In fact, a new term has been coined to describe the way we consume negative energy online during the age of Covid-19: doomscrolling.
If you haven’t heard of it, doomscrolling is the practice of passively taking in bad news and anxiety-provoking content from online sources. NPR recently published this article about strategies to break the cycle of doomscrolling and the perpetual need to check your feeds.
While we may need social media to connect with our isolated friends and family, it can become a burden at times. Taking breaks from the digital world can help you cultivate mindfulness and intentionality in real life.
Ayurveda offers so many useful tools for managing daily stress that are as relevant today as when the system was being developed thousands of years ago. The rituals of Ayurveda may seem mysterious at first, but in fact, they have very practical uses for modern life. Mindfulness and pure intention are needed now more than ever, as we navigate this unprecedented time. Let the healing wisdom of Ayurveda guide you in your quest to de-stress, and you may just find yourself with more peace than you thought possible.
WRITTEN BY AMY