Ayurvedic Tip of the Week: How to Avoid a Digestion Nightmare on Thanksgiving

ginger:mintEven the healthiest among us knows the pain and regret from overindulging on Thanksgiving. We suddenly throw caution to the wind and begin eating all of the comfort foods from our past. And then the reality of what we’ve asked our body to do sets in.

Ayurveda is really big on digestion. Roughly 60% of our daily energy goes towards digestion. And every Ayurvedic practitioner will ask you about your digestion, no matter what your health concern is. It all starts in our gut.

Most of us today have compromised digestive systems. More and more people keep eliminating foods from their menu that they really should be able to digest. Their digestive fire (agni) is just not burning properly.

Today all I want to do is give you a few simple tips to help you feel your best on Thursday.

  • Try to plan your celebratory meal between noon and 1:00 p.m. Our digestive fire (ruled by Pitta) is highest between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. So eating your Thanksgiving meal at this time will give your body the best chance at digesting it. By the way, this should always be when your biggest meal takes place. Have a lighter, smaller dinner later, around 6:00 p.m.
  • Avoid eating lots of appetizers. Let your hunger build for the main meal.
  • 1/2 an hour before your meal (NOT during or right before) drink one of the following: a warm cup of ginger tea, a glass of warm freshly squeezed lemon water, a glass of warm water with lime juice and a pinch of salt,  or a  glass of warm water with a pinch of black pepper. These are all simple options and readily available. Doing this will both help activate your digestive juices and hydrate the stomach lining so the body can produce enough hydrochloric acid necessary for digestion.
  • Avoid drinking liquids with your meal, especially cold ones. A small amount of hot tea or water is okay. Remember, you’re trying to keep your agni (fire) stoked so don’t throw cold water on it!
  • Try to relax during the meal, eating consciously - truly. Ayurveda teaches that good digestion is dependent on how we eat just as much as on what we eat.
  • Lying down on your left side for 5-15 minutes after a meal can help quite a bit (unless you have heartburn, in which case you should remain upright). You might have to fight your relatives for the sofa!
  • Go for a leisurely walk around the block to get some fresh air and de-stress.
  • After the meal, ginger tea can help with stomach upset. Peppermint is also a good choice. Fennel can help with gas and bloating. Make a tea with it or simply chew the seeds. There are a myriad of other digestive teas you can buy. For heartburn, drink some coconut water or aloe gel/juice.

I hope some of these tips will make your Thanksgiving a little more comfortable so that you can truly enjoy the day.

I want to tell all of you how grateful I am that you take the time to read my posts, leave your wonderful comments and share the information with others. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Much love,
Barbara

Posted in Ayurvedic Tip of the Week | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The Myth of the Perfectly Healthy Healer

LiveToShareI don’t know that I’ll ever feel completely comfortable referring to myself as a healer. After all, we’re all healers, aren’t we? We heal others with our love, our touch, our music, our art, our cooking, our mothering and fathering. We have the power to heal ourselves.

But for the sake of this article I’m talking about those healers who at some point in their lives answered the call to help others heal themselves.

Inasmuch as a good part of my day is spent either actively in a healing session with someone or writing about holistic health, I guess I fall into this category. And I seem to have an unquenchable thirst for learning more.

I am surrounded by hundreds of other healers with whom I interact almost daily. When I started studying energy medicine years ago my group of fellow students was small, like a little extended family. Now that family has grown large and we are scattered all over the globe.

We support each other, love each other, help heal each other and often just lend an ear to each other. It’s a powerful loving group that I am blessed to be a part of.

But we are not without pain or illness or conflict in our lives. We are on our own journeys of healing just like everyone else – in our bodies, minds and souls. There is no such thing as perfect health. There are days when we feel in perfect health and those days are precious and we are grateful for them.

In my own case, it was the dark, pain-filled challenging days where I learned (and continue to learn) the biggest lessons. In an intuitive reading given to me a few years ago I was told that my body would be my greatest teacher in this lifetime and truer words were never spoken. As difficult as that truth has been, I am grateful because it led me into this world of healers.

Every day I teach people about Ayurveda and how to live its principles. And every day I struggle myself to practice what I teach. I know the routine I should follow daily to keep me calm and centered. But my Vata always wants to roam and play, flitting from one thing to another! And my Pitta wants to keep my nose in a book or online 24/7, learning more and more and more. Insatiable learning – sounds like it should be a good thing – but it can unbalance you just as surely as any addiction.

But, boy, when I do practice what I teach and see the results – a calmer, clearer me – I want others to know the same feeling.

As I was ruminating about what makes healers want to help others heal I got up to make myself some ginger tea. Lo and behold, the wise little message on my Yogi tea bag read “Live to Share”. :)

I believe that most of us who chose this path of the healer do so not out of wanting a sense of power (although there are surely unscrupulous people like that) or an illusion of perfection, but out of a sense of wanting to share. By sharing our own stories of recovery, whether through words or visuals, or through our healing hands, we hope to effect healing in others.

And when that happens, there is no greater reward for the painful journey it might have taken to get there.

Much love,
Barbara

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Ayurveda, Energy Medicine, Healing | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

A Time to Turn Within

Squirrel HomeI love all the seasons, and following an Ayurvedic lifestyle by living in harmony with Nature has made me even more aware of the importance of each of them. But if I had to pick a favorite, fall would win – hands down.

It’s ironic that I feel this way because Vata Season always challenges me. Nonetheless, the artist in me is seduced by the beauty of the changing leaves every autumn and I spend a lot of time gazing up at the color-drenched trees.

This time of year often seems to be busier, but according to Ayurvedic principles and many ancient cultures, once November rolls around (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is), it’s time to slow down, go within a bit and deeply nurture yourself.

When I looked up the other day to photograph the tree above, I noticed the nest and the busy little resident squirrel scampering around readying him or herself for the cold weather soon to arrive.

With an awareness of the bleak landscape about to appear, I am always grateful for the one last burst of color before the trees become barren.

Autumn LeavesThe month of November also has spiritual significance. It’s said that the veil between our physical world and the spiritual world is thinnest at this time. You may notice that your dreams or meditations are filled with thoughts or memories of loved ones or deceased ancestors.

November 1st is Samhain (pronounced sah-win or sow-in), an ancient Celtic holiday which marks the end of the harvest and the preparation for winter, and also celebrates our connection with the spirit world. Halloween was derived from this ancient pagan tradition which takes place on the eve before Samhain.

We are leaving behind the warm bright light of summer and early fall and headed towards the dark cold days and nights of late autumn and winter. We needn’t be afraid of the dark for there is beauty in the dark, as well. If the seed didn’t rest in the dark cool earth, there would be no blooming flower to greet us in the spring.

Just like Mother Nature, we need to honor our own cycles and rhythms. I have learned to love (or at least appreciate!) the cold dark winter months which are approaching here in the Northeast. I know many of you shudder at this thought and are perhaps frantically making plans to get out of town. But I like to burrow in, read and write, deepen my sleep, and concentrate on nurturing myself – body, mind and spirit. This year I hope to do a silent retreat somewhere deep in Nature.

At the very least, give this some consideration and plant the seed in your mind that there is a reason for man to be in sync with all of the seasons like the rest of Nature. Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Eat seasonal, local foods as much as possible. Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, provides us with just the right foods for our body.
  • Limit indoor lighting and computer/TV use at night as it interferes with our natural sleep rhythms. Light more candles and turn in early.
  • Favor gently cooked warm foods over cold and raw foods, especially if you have a lot of Vata in your constitution.
  • Exercise should be of a more gentle, nurturing nature rather than intense and excessive. Think yoga, t’ai chi, qigong, walking, etc.
  • Consider deepening your spiritual connection through a meditation practice.
  • Use a light box and supplement with Vitamin D if you are prone to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
  • Bundle up and take some solitary walks in Nature. Nothing is more deeply restorative.

The irony here is that so many of us get extra busy and things get chaotic as the holidays approach. I let go of that stress a few years ago and it has made such a difference in my life.

If slowing down and going within seems ridiculously impossible for you at this time, at the very least, set aside a few minutes each day to close your eyes (meditating is ideal), do some deep breathing and try to let go.

Sending you all some calming energy to help you during this seasonal transition.

Much love,
Barbara

Posted in Autumn, Ayurveda, Change of Seasons, Fall, Nature, root vegetables, Self-Care, Vata | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Art & Ayurveda (My Weekend Update)

Anticipation

Detail of “Anticipation”

Yes, art and Ayurveda really do go together.

This past weekend I participated in the Jersey City Art and Studio Tour. Hundreds of artists opened their studios and live/work spaces to the public. I was one of them.

Having just moved to Jersey City a couple of months ago, it was a leap of faith that I would be ready to show my work. As of a few days before the event I still had stray boxes to sort through and barely any light in my apartment. I had been living by candlelight at night (not a bad thing to do, btw!)

I’ve been in open studio events before but it’s been a while. And it’s a much different experience opening your home as opposed to just your studio. There can be a bit of a voyeuristic feel to it sometimes, but most everyone who came through last weekend was respectful and appreciative.

I had quite a lot of older work – huge panels that were like giant journal pages from a much darker time in my life. My angst and anxiety were written all over them. Turbulence, (my past fear of flying), Claustrophobia (self explanatory), Misadventure (a difficult trip to Europe), Lost and Found (my transition from married to single and relocating to NYC), and Slow Down! (my dislike of any kind of speed – the fast kind, not the drug kind!) were just a few.

So you can see how vulnerable and exposed I could have felt. More than a few people asked me how I felt selling work that was so personal to a stranger. It’s probably no coincidence that these pseudo-journal pages rarely sell.

Art3

Detail of “Misadventure”

When I first hung some of these pieces in my new home in anticipation of the Studio Tour I was a little startled and taken aback at my raw past that hung before me. Did I really want this on my walls?

But after a few days I had detached from the pain of them and was able to see them for what they were – representations of incredibly difficult times in my life that had strengthened me and made me who I am today. And so, I was more than okay sharing my stories with these curious strangers.

A couple of days before the show I decided to print out some photographs. After all, photography has been my creative expression of late. And interestingly, that’s what sold. Of course, they were more affordable than the large paintings but I have to wonder if people just don’t want someone else’s “journal” hanging on their walls!

Tulip

Tulip

Five minutes before the show started on Saturday I decided to print up a flyer for a class on Ayurveda – my other passion. I put it on the table along with the information on my artwork.

Ayurveda1I ended up having wonderful conversations about Ayurveda, energy healing and art. They are all connected and the beauty of this weekend for me was to be able to bring them all together.

I already have several people signed up for the class. They are super-curious and enthusiastic. I even met the most light-filled young woman named Sarah who wants to connect and learn these healing modalities from me. She’s one of those rare individuals who radiates pure JOY.

Click here if you would like details on the class. I would love for some of you to join us!

I’m not a party person. I don’t like crowds and loud noise. I’d rather share a cup of tea with you than have to compete with music and lots of people at once. But I’m proud of myself for pushing beyond my comfort zone (Thank you, my friends for your support and encouragement – you know who you are!) and not letting the fear and anxiety win over.

If there’s one important lesson I’ve learned over the past few years of my studies (and I’m still learning this) it’s that once we begin learning our life lessons on our path, we MUST share them with the world – as Joseph Campbell so wisely taught in The Hero’s Journey. No matter how shy or introverted or disinterested in attention we might be, it’s hurtful to ourselves and others not to share our gifts. And so I did just that this weekend. It felt good.

Much love,
Barbara

Posted in Art, Ayurveda, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

The Arrival of Vata Season (Anxiety Alert!)

market

“When the seasons change, we experience a sympathetic internal shift. All life-forms open themselves up to receive cosmic redirection from nature during these crucial seasonal transitions, so we are likely to be more vulnerable and unsettled.”
Maya Tiwari, The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing

Here in the Northeast where I live, the heat of Pitta Season is slowly waning. Temperatures are fluctuating from day to day, turning cold and dry, and the wind is beginning to blow. Vata Season (fall/early winter) is making its appearance.

Autumn has always been my favorite season. It brings with it blue skies and crisp cool sweater-weather days, apple picking and changing leaves. But I have always been aware of feelings of anxiety and agitation, as well as a lack of focus, that would show up as sure as the apples falling from the trees. I am feeling it now.

This seasonal shift confused me for years, until I began to study Ayurveda. Now, even though it still shows up with the apples and the pumpkins, I’m prepared and better equipped to handle it.

As we begin this transition from Pitta Season to Vata Season, it’s important to note something that Ayurveda teaches.

“The Ayurvedic texts say that a disease can take root in the body only during the junctions between the seasons, when all nature is in flux. Because of the upheaval dominating these junctions, the body’s natural immunity becomes virtually defenseless against impending disease.” -Maya Tiwari

I have experienced this firsthand, many times, and am learning just how true this cautionary statement is. The most important lesson I have learned is to deeply nurture the Vata part of me.

A critical fact to bear in mind is that an excess of a dosha can build up over the months and it is important to address this before moving into the next Ayurvedic season. If your Pitta has been high all summer, you want to get the excess heat out of your body so that it doesn’t get trapped and lead to health issues. I addressed this issue in a recent post which you can read HERE.

Even if Vata is not your primary dosha, you may find yourself feeling a little anxious or scattered as the temperature drops and the wind begins to blow.

Remember, we are made up of all three doshas and their earthly elements. It is Vata dosha, which is comprised of air (think movement) and ether (space), that is responsible for racing thoughts and a pounding heart that create anxiety. Vata is the dosha most likely to get out of balance, but luckily can can come back just as easily. In a word, it’s changeable.

The attributes of Vata dosha are dry, mobile, cold, light, rough, clear and subtle. All of these characteristics are heightened during Vata Season as well as during the Vata times of day – 2:00-6:00 a.m. and 2:00-6:00 p.m.

Here are a few signs that your Vata dosha might be increased and needs balancing:

  • Feelings of heightened anxiety, nervousness and fear
  • Bothered by cold and wind
  • Sleep is interrupted and light
  • Excess worrying
  • Excess stimulation is bothersome–i.e. crowds and loud noises
  • Intestinal gas, constipation
  • Dryness–skin, hair, stools, eyes, etc.
  • Feeling disorganized and overwhelmed
  • Can’t sit still
  • Fatigue following bursts of energy. Crash and burn (this is typical of Vata energy)

So, what to do to ease this transition and stay healthy? Like increases like in Ayurveda, so think opposite to bring your Vata back into balance by:

  • Dressing warmly and keeping a scarf around your neck, especially if windy. The back of the neck is very vulnerable to wind.
  • Eating more warm, gently cooked seasonal foods. Root vegetables are especially grounding for Vatas.
  • Avoiding cold drinks. Opt instead for warm beverages like spiced herbal teas, warm spiced milk, or warm lemon water with honey.
  • Eating enough healthy fats and oils (especially ghee)
  • Avoiding over-exercising, which can aggravate already high-energy Vata. Gentle yoga, tai chi and qi gong are excellent choices.
  • Taking quiet walks in Nature is grounding for airy Vatas.
  • Meditation and pranayama (breathing practice) can help soothe Vata anxiety and fear.
  • Daily self-massage with warm grounding oils like sesame or almond oil is extremely calming to the nervous system. Or, try an herbalized Vata oil.
  • Try to stay away from loud, noisy environments and when you can’t avoid them, take a moment to breathe deeply and find your inner calm.
  • Keeping a regular routine with regards to sleeping, eating, working, etc. is imperative for Vatas, who love variety and can easily lose focus. An ideal bedtime is between 9:30–10:00pm.
  • Nurturing yourself as much as possible on a daily basis!
  • Determining your Ayurvedic prakriti (click HERE). Follow the food guidelines for your constitution and you’ll be on the right track.

On a positive note, there are so many wonderful things about Vata types. When balanced, they are creative, optimistic, joyful, forgiving, flexible, and full of enthusiasm. They thrive on change and love to discover and experience new things. It’s no coincidence that school starts back up in the fall, people get excited about new projects, and creativity is in full bloom.

A cautionary tale, however, to over-enthusiastic Vata-types is to not let ourselves get burned out during this season. The word to keep in our consciousness is nurture. Body, mind and spirit.

Much love,
Barbara

Posted in Anxiety, Autumn, Ayurveda, Change of Seasons, Doshas, Fall, Vata | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

After the March

March5Rev.Just a quick update on my experience at the People’s Climate March last Sunday. It has taken me days to feel fully recovered!

When I dragged myself on Monday to an appointment with my naturopath/acupuncturist/chiropractor, Dr. Gabrielle Francis, and proclaimed that I felt completely depleted, she laughed and said “You were in 400,000 people’s energy fields – of course you’re depleted!”

But it was such good energy! My day as a volunteer began at 7:00 a.m. It’s always fun (once you’re awake) to experience the city early in the morning on a Sunday. As the crowd began to swell, far exceeding the 150,000 people originally estimated to attend, the passion that everyone brought with them was palpable.

Climate change is a serious, real and imminent threat that affects every person on this planet. It was incredible to witness the dedication of people taking to the streets to let our world “leaders” know just how we feel about it.

I’ve included some links below in case you’re still in the dark about some of the issues people were marching about. Words like fracking, geoengineering, factory farming and deforestation should be household words by now, but unfortunately they’re not.

So how did I get so passionate about and involved with the issue of climate change? I think initially my love of nature sparked a deep awareness. But it was an email I received last April from Avaaz Executive Director Ricken Patel about attending their first offline meeting of Avaaz supporters.

Avaaz.org is a 34-million person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages.” Avaaz

It was at that meeting that Ricken and his fellow activists spoke about plans for a march for climate change. It was in its infancy stage and it has really been something special for me to witness the entire process from start to a HUGE successful finish.

This was not just a NYC event – it was global. Here are some amazing photos from around the world.

And a few of my own, from ground level!

March9Rev

March3Rev

March8Rev

March6Rev

March2Rev

March7Rev

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue!

Much love,
Barbara

Resources:

Dangers of Fracking
One Problem With Geoengineering
Factory Farming and the Environment
Deforestation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Nature | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Come March With Me For Climate Change!

Tree GlobeI don’t know that I’ve ever been so passionate about anything in my life as I am about the sad state that our beloved Mother Earth is in. My heart aches for her – the plants and animals, oceans, lakes, rivers, and the land that we humans walk upon.

With each year that I grow older my love for Nature expands. Perhaps this is something that happens to everyone as they age. All I know is that it has profoundly changed my life. My head is “in the clouds” a lot these days – literally. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get from point A to point B because I’m so busy marveling at the beauty above.

But our human ways are destroying this precious planet that we think we own. We have been greedy, lazy and arrogant in our ways. We dump chemicals into our water and in the ground, we use up precious resources as if they are endless, and then we try to fix things in ways that only further damage the environment.

Each and every one of us has a responsibility to our Mother. She gives and gives and gives, but we have taken her to the breaking point. We live as though we’re at the top of the pecking order, but the truth is that it goes like this: plants, animals, humans. If our species dies, the plants and animals will do just fine without us. In fact, they will thrive. We need THEM, not the other way around.

So, on this Sunday, September 21st in NYC, I will be joining with thousands of men, women and children from all walks of life to sound the alarm that climate change IS real and that ignoring it will mean disaster for the human race.

Why September 21st? Because world leaders are arriving in town for an emergency climate summit at the UN on September 23rd and we want them to know that we are demanding drastic change. Even the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon will join in this public call for action.

I know many people who scoff at the belief that man is critically impacting climate change. There’s no denying that the earth goes through natural cycles that have little to do with man. But almost every environmental scientist concurs that we have gravely contributed to a situation which is bleak at best, and catastrophic at worst.

This will be the largest climate mobilization in history. The epicenter will be NYC, but cities all across the globe are joining in. Will you join me in showing our love and support for Mother Earth and urging our world leaders to do the same? CLICK HERE to join the People’s Climate March.

Much love,
Barbara

P.S. PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION TO HELP US REACH TWO MILLION SIGNATURES!

The most influential climate change paper today remains unknown to most people (Inside Climate News):
http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140213/climate-change-science-carbon-budget-nature-global-warming-2-degrees-bill-mckibben-fossil-fuels-keystone-xl-oil?page=show

EPA questions/answers for skeptics and believers alike: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basics/facts.html

Fracking and climate change:  http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/2014/9/17/opinion-fracking-equals-climate-change

How geoengineering is impacting our environment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsYG5emdZp8#t=450

Posted in Nature | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Ayurvedic Tip of the Week: Early to Rise is the Second Half of the Equation

YellowBirdAtMiravalWebCopyLast week’s Ayurvedic Tip was about the benefits of getting to bed before 10:00 p.m. (Pitta time). Today I want to explain why Ayurveda believes rising with the sun is such a good idea.

6:00-10:00 a.m. is Kapha time. Remember when I said that 6:00-10:00 p.m. was Kapha time, and that it was a slow, heavy, dull energy, and therefore a perfect time to wind down and get ready for bed? Well, that same slow, heavy, dull energy (if we are sleeping during morning Kapha hours) will not give us a restorative sleep. It’s a lethargic kind of sleep that will linger with us throughout the day if we sleep too late.

Our brain becomes very active during Vata time (2-6 a.m.) and our central nervous system is revving up, not winding down. Our bodies are also preparing for elimination, which is designed to happen during Kapha time, ideally within an hour of waking.

Certainly, there are times in our lives when we need more sleep – in times of sickness or during infancy and the teen years. But it’s important to remember that the most restorative and reparative hours are from 10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m., not during Kapha hours.

Most cultures know that rising with the sun is living in harmony with Nature. Some of us like to think that we’re night owls, but the fact is we are not designed to function like owls and other night creatures.

I almost always wake up before the sun rises. But I was in the habit of letting my morning routine keep me inside. This past week I have made a concerted effort to hop on my bike around sunrise and ride down by the river. Oh, what a joy it is to spend some time each morning listening to the sounds of Mother Nature – the birds and the waves, as well as the beautiful silence. I’ve been ending each ride with a respite under the willow trees.

Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you feel a difference in the quality of your day when you get to bed early and rise with the sun? Please share!

Happy SUNday!

Much love,
Barbara

Posted in Ayurveda, Kapha, Self-Care, Sleep | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Expelling Excess Summer Heat Leads to a Healthier Fall and Winter

HotOrColdWebHere in the Northeast, fall is just around the corner. It’s ever so subtle, but you can sense it. Apples have arrived at the farmer’s market and there’s a palpable excitement. The days have still been very hot, but soon the nights will cool down and the wind will begin to blow.

The official date of the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is September 22nd. It’s time to prepare for the seasonal shift that Ayurveda teaches is critical to our health.

The junctures between the seasons are the perfect time to cleanse the body of any excesses which might have built up, both in the body and the mind. Failure to do this is an invitation for disease to set in, if the body/mind is in a weakened state.

During the summer months of Pitta Season, excess heat is likely to have accumulated and might be expressing itself in any or all of the following ways:

  • Skin problems such as rash, eczema, hives, psoriasis or dermatitis
  • Feeling of heat trapped in the body, hot flashes
  • Burning or itching sensations
  • Digestive issues such as heartburn, acid reflux, burping, nausea, loose stools or diarrhea, intense hunger
  • Yellow coating on the tongue
  • Bleeding gums or canker sores
  • Excessive sweating (pungent-smelling)
  • Excessive thirst
  • Feelings of anger, jealousy, criticism, impatience

None of these symptoms, as harmless as they may seem, should be taken lightly. They are red flags of an imbalance that, left untreated, can lead to more serious problems. Pay attention. You do not want to enter Vata Season (Fall/Early Winter) with these imbalances. The energy of Vata will only exacerbate them. Vata moves everything (air is the predominant element) and can drive imbalances deeper into the tissues and channels of the body.

Last year I experienced this imbalance firsthand. A particularly hot summer coupled with my Vata tendency towards dehydration left my body in a weakened state as I entered fall season.

This year I have been cautiously aware and careful to stay cool and hydrated. Having a Vata-Pitta constitution can be challenging at this time of year.

Vata is dry. If the excess heat of the summer is not properly expelled before entering Vata Season, this hot/dry energy will begin to move upward in the body, weakening it and making it more susceptible to colds, flus, allergies, as well as digestive and respiratory problems.

The body will begin to produce reactive mucus to combat the dryness and we will likely blame it on the guy we work with who has a cold.

Mother Nature provides us with foods that are naturally cooling and help to dispel heat from the body. So eat lots of seasonal local fruits and vegetables at summer’s end. Especially effective are apples, pomegranates, and beets.

applesWebLoose stools are a sign that the body is expelling excess heat. Be sure to stay hydrated by sipping water and coconut water throughout the day. Some fresh-squeezed lime juice with a pinch of salt in a glass of water can also help ward off dehydration.

If any of this resonates with you, follow the Pitta-pacifying suggestions in this article and consider doing an Ayurvedic cleanse.

Unlike harsh cleanses which can leave the body in a weakened state, an Ayurvedic cleanse gently clears the mind and body of toxins and brings the doshas back into balance. Fall is a perfect time for such a cleanse. I’m happy to help guide you.

I’ll write again soon with some Vata Season survival tips. Now is the time to focus on a smooth seasonal transition, so for the next few weeks – think COOL!

Much love,
Barbara

 

Posted in Autumn, Ayurveda, Change of Seasons, Detoxifying, Doshas, Fall, General Wellness, Pitta, Self-Care, Vata, Vata-Pitta | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Healing Under the Willow Trees

willow
“If you want to meet the most powerful healing plants in the world, just open your door and step outside.” – Eliot Cowan

This morning I woke up filled with melancholy and it felt so uncomfortable. Why was it there? Was it because it’s Labor Day, a holiday, and I’m home alone? But I like spending time with myself and I had a lot to do.

Yesterday I had a visit from some favorite friends – Stacey, Mabel and Freddie. We just laid around not doing much of anything. Like old times. We live across the river from each other now – not just around the block. We’re not far, but it’s different - a little sad – and maybe that’s where the melancholy came from. I just wasn’t sure.

Instead of turning on my computer or the tv to numb and bury the uncomfortable feeling, I hopped on my bike and went for a bike ride. You know, those feelings of melancholy, anger, shame, guilt, grief, or whatever they may be, don’t just go away if we push them aside. They literally find a place to hide out in our body, and unexpressed, inevitably lead to disease.

I’ve witnessed this happening in my own life and after years of studying Ayurveda and energy medicine, I’ve learned that the only way to get them out of the body is to face them head on. For some people, journaling does that best.

For me, Mother Nature is my ally when I need to process emotions. And luckily, I still have a big old river to run to. When I ride my bike (another great release) and approach the water, I almost immediately feel a change. Often tears come, I feel my breath begin to deepen and my heart relax from the heaviness of the stuck emotional energy.

Of course it’s not always my heart – depending on the emotion, it could be felt anywhere. But I seem to often feel it in my heart center. Today, as I rounded the bend on the boardwalk to head home, I came upon five willow trees lining the path. I put on my brakes and hopped off my bike. “Oh glorious willow trees on the Jersey City side of the river – I found you!” They aren’t as mature as the ones on the NYC side, but big enough to envelop me with their shade.

I have loved willow trees since I was a child. They inspired some of my very first drawings. I didn’t pay so much attention to them during my busy years, but my heart would often skip a beat as a memory was jogged when I saw one in passing.

Today they were calling me - literally. I’ve had my head buried in a book called Plant Spirit Medicine: A Journey into the Healing Wisdom of Plants by Eliot Cowan. I can’t put it down. The author talks about the healing we can receive from the spirit of the plant, without using or eating from it, simply by being in its presence.

Plants that grow where you live or lived are the ones that seem to offer the most effective healing. It was no accident that these willows stopped me in my tracks this morning. Pay attention to plants and animals for which you feel a deep bond.

willows2I laid on the ledge under the trees, wishing I could be directly on the Earth, but grateful to be able to rest my head under their branches. Then I got quiet. The breeze was blowing and the gentle fronds seemed to be brushing away my melancholy.

If you squint your eyes and look at the edges of the tree you can literally see the trees energy field. To me, it looks like millions of little amoeba darting around. When the sun is out you can sometimes see them in a rainbow of colors.

Warning: You can lose track of time very easily lying under a tree. Trees are powerful, living gifts to us that we so often take for granted. We need them more than they need us, that’s for sure.

willows1It’s funny how writing at a desk can be so hard but get out in Nature and clear away the yucky emotions and the words just start to flow. I’ve been away from this blog, struggling to get back to my writing. But these thoughts just flowed while sitting under the willows. I believe they helped me get the words out, along with the sadness.

Do you think I’ve lost my marbles or can you relate? I hope maybe this will inspire you to let Nature help you cleanse stuck emotions. It’s free and easy and doesn’t require popping a pill. And it’s not a bad idea to share with your kids the joy of laying under a tree without a cell phone or video game in hand.

Much love,
Barbara

 

 

Posted in Healing, Nature | Tagged , , | 12 Comments