The other piece of the puzzle of self-awareness, aside from physical and mental awareness, is your nature. The fundamental elements that make up and influence your natural state. We can easily see that we all have similarities as a species but Ayurveda looks at what makes us all intrinsically different.
Ayurveda is a life science originated in India that addresses the complete uniqueness of each individual and is strongly intertwined with yoga. As opposed to generic statements as to what is considered healthy, what works for one person might not work for another, in fact it could actually have a counterproductive outcome.
By understanding your unique nature you can live in a way which synchronises you to your surroundings and the world you live in. The aim of Ayurveda in its simplest terms is to establish balance, of course you cannot establish balance until you are aware of what you are balancing.
Ayurveda encompasses every part of your physical and non-physical body; every part of you has its own unique nature.
Ayurveda is a hugely complex field of science and I want to focus more on the higher level concepts you can take to your daily life.
There are three doshas connected to the five elements; Vata (air, space), Pitta (fire, some water), and Kapha (earth, water). We all have each of these five elements within us but we are born with our own unique proportions and often with a dominance; that defines your dosha. The original state of these elements is the perfect state in which we are considered balanced, through life we can become unbalanced and the science of Ayurveda aims to bring us back to that ideal state in which we were born.
As Ayurveda extends to every part of who you are, it is influenced by all factors in your life; your routine, diet, relationships, hobbies, work, environment, seasons, everything.
A key concept of Ayurveda is that everything you see outside of you is happening inside of you. Just like the day has a cycle, depending on the season and where you live in the world, so do you. By creating a daily routine you can start to synchronise yourself to nature. It’s a simple but a very effective concept; you are a copy of the universe and you must do as the rest of nature does around you.
Human civilisation has lost touch with nature. In the city we are surrounded by artificial light. I feel most connected to the world around me when I can see the sunrise and set, it’s beauty is never lost on me; a reminder that we are a part of something bigger.
Supermarkets are overwhelmingly full of food choices from all over the world. Processed and frozen foods outweighing the fresh foods that have no doubt travelled many miles to sit on those shelves. We eat any type of food whenever we want regardless of the time of day and season. There are no other species that eat this way and taking a step to source local seasonal foods in your area is often a strong indicator of what your body needs to balance the effects of seasonal changes; it’s unlikely we need salads during those cold winter months.
Just as the sun is hottest at midday so is your digestive fire. You must nurture your digestive fire so that it is able to digest effectively. In Ayurveda your digestion is at the centre of your physical and mental health just as the sun is at the centre of the universe. Irregular meal times, snacking and eating processed foods are just some of the ways to dull your digestive fire.
Spending many months in retreat environments I trust this process. Following a routine in itself can be deeply healing, it requires self-discipline but in return gives you physical and mental freedom. I know I can travel anywhere in the world and this routine is my anchor, it grounds me down.
Start the day by waking up at the same time before sunrise (around 6am), the energy is lighter before 6am, if you wake up later in the day often it’s harder to get up and you can feel lethargic even though you had more sleep.
When you wake up follow a morning routine, I practice yoga and meditation but there are more extensive routines involving oil pulling, tongue scraping and self-massage. You can make it as simple as you want, even if you only have 15 minutes try and make time for something. It represents your self discipline but also your self love, you deserve this time for yourself to do something for you. It’s a commitment you have to yourself, your self-growth and happiness.
Eat 3 meals a day at the same meal times, there are very few people where snacking positively serves them. Have your biggest meal at lunch when your digestive fire is strongest. Eat dinner no later than 6pm to allow time for digestion before you take yourself to bed around 10pm.
I promise you it’s a life revolution.
In Ayurveda small changes are often introduced to see long term benefits, it’s not a science of instant gratification.
I have travelled extensively for the past few years and depending where I am in the world and my job there are times where this routine ebbs and flows, but if you commit to one thing wake up early and practice.
You’re training your body and mind so don’t punish yourself the days you can’t do it or you slip back into old habits, have self-compassion and then try and bring yourself back to your routine.