Wisdom of Ayurveda: Importance of daily habits and balance within yourself

Monday, 29 August 2016

I recently attended an Ayurveda workshop led by Tiffany Nicholson-Smith www.livingintheself.com. I almost didn’t make it to the workshop because I was so busy finishing school and concentrating on setting up a business. Its funny how those things that you almost cut out of your day turn out to be the things you need most.

This workshop was an introduction to Ayurveda and how to bring Ayurveda into your life. It addressed a lot of what I’ve been struggling with lately. This past year for me included going back to school, changing living situations temporarily and driving back and forth to Toronto too many times to count. It left me feeling very scattered. I constantly felt behind and stretched thin. Part of this meant that I had dropped some of my “good” healthy habits pertaining to sleep and diet (two of the main pillars in Ayurveda). I had started relying too much on coffee, whereas previously I used to be an avid herbal tea drinker and barely consumed caffeine.  I had found myself spending far too much time in front of a screen. The irregularity of my schedule meant that I didn’t have a regular bedtime or morning routine.
Some of this seems avoidable but some of it isn’t. Starting a new business venture, watching school lectures online and doing homework on a computer requires that sitting in front of a screen which I just can’t seem to find a way around.

In this workshop, Tiffany talked about bookends to beginning and ending the day, and the importance of having a healthy daily routine.  Before I went back to school, I would try to wake up slightly earlier in order to meditate/ sit for 10-15 minutes in silence and maybe fit in a short yoga practice. The irregularity of the past year slowly eroded many healthy habits with less healthy ones such as: drinking coffee/caffeine for energy and to stay awake driving; eating on the go (mostly in the car); cutting my yoga practice and meditation short (or not even practicing at all); reading course related literature rather than reading for pleasure; and basically feeling like a slacker when I did try to relax. Tiffany explained how even with an irregular schedule one should try and work in regularities whenever possible especially when feeling scattered. 

After attending this workshop, my primary goal is to establish (or re-establish) healthy bookends to my day. These are some of the ways I can try to bring more regularity into an irregular schedule. Within these bookends, I can ground myself as I begin and end my days in healthier ways:
-Using a real alarm clock and not my phone
-Cleansing in the morning: nettipot, tongue scraper, and hot water with lemon
-Meditation in the morning (even 5 minutes if that’s all the time I have)
-Making an entry in a gratitude journal in the morning after meditating
-Practice yoga for at least 20 minutes before breakfast
-Primarily drinking herbal tea and the occasional caffeinated green tea
-Eating dinner earlier so I can get to bed earlier
-No screens/technology within one hour before bed
-Reading for pleasure to relax before bed
-Aromatherapy before bed (calming scents such as Lavender, nutmeg, vanilla, pine, bergamont)

It can be more difficult to control habits during the day but it can be done. My older sister works as an eco-ethical lifestyle fashion blogger www.leotielovely.blogspot.ca. Recently she wrote a post on her daily tea habits and how they help to break up her screen time during the day. She also has many lovely ideas of how to live and consume in a more conscious way.

Ayurveda advocates for becoming more conscious of our habits and how we use and misuse our senses. Ayurveda is a very old traditional medical system that some believe has existed for 10,000 years.  Ancient Ayurvedic text states that each person has a unique constitution made up of all three doshas. Doshas are biological energies made of the 5 elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether). The three doshas are; Pitta (fire and water), Vata (air and ether) and Kapha (earth and water). The balance of these three doshas within your body when you are born is called “prakruti”. The doshas fluctuate throughout our lives and these increases and decreases of each dosha in our body manifest in illness and disease called “vikruti”. Ayurveda provides a path to optimal health by finding balance and harmony within the body and mind. This path will ultimately lead to our “prakruti”, the way our doshas were balanced at birth. Tiffany asked us to each think back to the way we were as children; this is maybe the closest some of us have been to “prakruti” since birth.

What I liked about the simple idea of things getting out of balance is that it makes it seem easier to restore when its just a question of balance. Balance is definitely not easy; it is a seesaw in life. But it can be a fun challenge finding out and searching for what brings balance and harmony to your body and mind, which can be so different from someone else. I think the search for balance is part of what keeps us learning and growing as a person. In this day and age, one has to be wary of taking advice where there is a quick or one-way fix. If you believe that each person is unique, there is no way it could possibly work for anyone exactly same way. There will be similarities in approach and outcomes but never exact replicas.

Creating some healthy habits can help with balance and harmony in the body and mind but it will also be necessary to reevaluate those habits every once in a while. Ask yourself if they are still serving to balance you. Self- care is so important in our busy, technology driven lives in the western world.  Some peoples dosha imbalances may even need more spontaneity and a break from regularity, but the wisdom of Ayurveda is once you are in tune with your “prakruti” you can work with your own wisdom to restore that balance by using your senses….. and maybe a few tips from an Ayurveda master like Tiffany ;)

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