Transitioning from Summer to Fall…

This is an overly busy time of year for most. The end of August to the beginning of October brings many transitions, such as, the start of the school year, new classes, workshops, programs, projects and intentions. It is the shift from the heat of summer to the coolness and wind of fall. Lot’s of adjusting and overdoing happens! Summer vacation time becomes “hit-the-ground-running” for most.

How can Ayurveda keep us balanced and healthy, as we enter this season of busy-ness?

The qualities of summer are hot, sharp, dry, light. The qualities of fall are cold, rough, dry, light, subtle and mobile (like the wind!). During the summer we may have accumulated heat in our tissues, which causes dryness. It shows up as dry skin, hair and eyes, dehydration, constipation and some inflammatory issues. As we enter fall, its qualities can continue to aggravate what we have accumulated from the summer heat. There may be symptoms of imbalance in our tissues, organs, mind and emotions. This fall dryness and  movement of the wind, may increase inflammation, stress, anxiety, physical and mental burnout, tiredness, colds/flu, insomnia and indigestion.

Some simple Ayurvedic tips can prevent imbalances and decrease the negative effects that the summer/fall juncture can bring. This makes for a smoother, healthier transition!

~Stop, slow down and decrease multi-tasking. Take time for rest and quiet time, just being. (not on the phone, computer or TV!)

~Eat warm, fresh, whole, organic cooked foods. Avoid processed, frozen, canned and “old food”.

~Avoid cold foods, cold drinks. Drink a large glass of warm water when you arise and continue to sip warm water through out the day.

~Keep a regular routine of 3 meals/day and waking early in the morning, bedtime by 10pm.

~Eat slowly and mindfully, in a calm environment. Practice meditation, gentle/restorative yoga, walks in nature…simplify your schedule.

~Take time for self-reflection and ask, “What supports my health and well being, what does not?”. Listen to your body…

 

Namaste…Nancy Carlson

Summer Diet/Lifestyle for Pitta Dosha

DIET:

To pacify out-of-balance pitta, and especially in the summer months, one should eat sweet, cooling, bitter foods that are liquid and moist. Avoid hot, spicy and dry foods. The tastes sweet, bitter and astringent are best for pitta…avoid salty, sour and pungent tastes (hot chilies and spices). Choose a vegetarian diet…avoid meat, eggs, alcohol and salt. Most of the diet should be vegetables and whole grains, such as…barley, oats, white rice, wheat.

Avoid vegetables that are too sour or hot, such as…radishes, chilies, garlic, raw onions, tomatoes, hot peppers, carrots, beets, eggplant and spinach. Eat vegetables, such as…asparagus, cucumber, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, okra, lettuce, green beans and zucchini. Salads and raw vegetables are OK in the summer months when eaten at lunch time. Avoid sour fruits, such as, grapefruits, lemons, apricots, berries and any unripe fruit…limes are ok. Eat sweet ripe fruits, such as…grapes, melon, cherries, avocado, mangos, coconut, pomegranates, pineapples, oranges and plums.

For protein…all legumes are ok except for red and yellow lentils, which can be eaten minimally. Best is black lentils, chickpeas and mung beans. Chicken and turkey are ok, eggs and seafood minimal.

Sweet dairy is best…non-homogenized organic whole milk, unsalted butter, ghee, soft unsalted cheeses. Whole milk yogurt is best with spices, sweetener and a little water. 

Most nuts and seeds have too much oil and heat….but coconut is cooling, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are good. Use small amounts of sunflower, olive and coconut oil in your diet.

Sweeteners are ok for pitta, such as….maple syrup, dark brown sugar, dates. Avoid honey and molasses.  Avoid hot (pungent) spices and decrease salt intake. Cooling spices that are best for pitta are…cardamon, fennel, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, tumeric and some black pepper. Black tea is ok with milk and a pinch of cardamon. Avoid coffee, alcohol and tobacco.

Foods to balance pitta should have “neutral energy”…whole grains, bland foods, simple whole fresh organic foods, that are cooked.

LIFESTYLE:

For pitta that is out-of-balance and especially in the summer months…anything that creates too much heat inside or outside of the body…high humidity, steam baths, hot showers, the sun, hot and spicy food, too much exercise, a busy mind, constant doing, a fast pace, ingesting a lot of salty foods and oils….should be avoided.

Cooling foods and activities balance pitta. Exercise should be gentle and slow and done in the coolest part of the day, morning and evening…gentle yoga, walks in nature, swimming, chi gong, etc.

Slow deep breathing exercises help calm pitta. A regular practice of meditation, alternate nostril breathing and self-massage daily with sunflower or coconut oils calm the body and the mind. Pitta can then adapt an attitude of surrender, calm awareness and moderation in all things. A regular daily routine of eating, sleeping and doing is helpful to balance pitta and create loving care for oneself.

Stop – Sit – Breathe is pitta’s mantra. Eating in a peaceful environment, without multitasking…sweet, kind association, soothing music, smells and scenery….heal and balance pitta.

Resiliency and Ayurveda

Resiliency and Ayurveda

By Nancy Carlson

What is resilience, how do you get it? How can we cultivate and maintain resiliency in our daily life?

How can we adjust, within such constant changes in life? Can we re-create oneself, body-mind-spirit, allowing passion and joy into one’s life and work? Do we want to just survive, or to live well?

“Resiliency is generally considered to be a positive trait involving the capacity to cope with stress and adversity.” -McCraty & Childres, 2010

When we believe in ones-self, we have the capacity to “bounce back” in changing times. This comes with practice, bringing a deeper understanding of insight around lifestyle behaviors, awareness and choice.

To develop the capacity to be resilient is to take time for self-reflection, identify what’s important and live in a way that reflects that. Build your resilience slowly but surely.

By developing ones-self to be sensitive, non-judgmental and respectful of self and others, we can truly be present. Practicing self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, balance and mindful-awareness are the qualities of resiliency. It is a positive attitude in the face of suffering.

By observing, with intelligence, our own action becomes self-awareness. Daily insight, self-inquiry, being fully present with self and others, builds resiliency.

Reactivity vs Resilience

Do you react instead of observing your thoughts and feelings? Do you react in the fear of change? Can you pause, thoughtfully, before you speak? Can you bring yourself to center, before you react?

By using the tools of contemplative practices, we learn to receive compassion, to stay connected with others and develop self-inquiry thru an Ayurvedic lens…bringing awareness and choice to our decisions. We find meaning in change, and in connection by creating a new understanding of life in sync with nature’s rhythm.

What is important, your priorities, why are you here, what are the gifts you can share, what are your connections and how do you seek guidance?

Do you feel gratitude, optimism, joy, love, meaning and an inner hold on life?

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to feel meaning in the suffering, the ability to see something good in adversity is the central trait needed by all of us.”    ~Victor Frankl

Ayurveda, as a holistic healthcare system, follows the rhythm of nature, change of seasons, time, ageing and emphasizes mind-body-spirit wellness.

By cultivating a deeper understanding thru the view of Ayurveda, we can be in relationship with the world around us and adjust within the ever-changing times in life. Change is inevitable, constant, birth and death, illness, loss and suffering. We learn to respond in a healthier way of how to live in our lives, everyday.

Ayurveda teaches how to maintain balance by connecting with nature and it’s rhythms. Ayurveda promotes self-care, self-love, wellness, and true self-knowledge. Ayurveda re-balances our imbalances, builds resilience and brings us back to center.

In the practice of dinacharya, new daily routines are integrated slowly, creating positive change in our choices and intention. By observing the qualities of our food, environment, thoughts, emotions and senses, we build strength, awareness and resilience.

By being aware of our senses…sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch…we learn what is best for our constitution. Through our senses, we digest all that we take within, deciding what serves our wellbeing and what does not.

With knowledge of the 5 elements…space, air, fire, water and earth…that are found in all matter, including our-selves, our own unique constitution is understood. We notice that what is within, is also without…the connection of our microcosm and the external macrocosm.

This understanding brings the importance of our relationships…of self, others, the earth, plants, animals, countries, the world…it goes on and on. How we care for ourselves, determines the nature of all our relationships…healthy or not healthy.

Practices….

A daily routine is essential for maintaining balance by being inline with the cycles of day and night, seasons, age, environment and food. When disconnected to these natural rhythms, we can experience imbalance, illness, disease, isolation and suffering. The littlest of things are so important for prevention and maintenance of our health and wellbeing.

Ayurveda practices:

Seasonal lifestyle and diet

Walking in nature

Regular meals and betimes

Mindful eating, thoughts and acting

Exercise

Observing the qualities of the mind

Healthy digestion

Meditation – the witness, clarity, passive awareness, decreased reactions, healthier responses

Yoga – opening channels, decreased tension, flow

Pranayama – the vital breath, life force, vitality

Herbs, spices and fresh organic foods

Change can be seen as harmful, fearful, or change can be seen as adaptive, new beginnings, meaning, intelligence, health and wellbeing.

Ayurveda grounds, nourishes and rejuvenates to create balance in change. It is a holistic individualized healthcare system. It teaches to listen to ones true self and self-knowledge. Gradually, by growing one’s awareness, the light of one’s inner knowing and intelligence is seen. Listen….

 

 

Thoughts on Prayer

 

I have been sitting with this poem for many months, waiting for the time for it to be said. Contemplating what prayer is for me and all the forms it may take. Each day is a new prayer…It arrives on a beautiful snowy morning, as I offer my prayers to the Divine in my morning ritual.

And inspired by Mother Theresa’s quote…“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting yourself in the hands of God, at his disposition, and listening to his voice in the depths of our own hearts.”

 

“The act of prayer

not for something I want,

desire, or desperately need

but to pray in awe

of a vastness,

incomprehensible

a true mystery

where I am held, tenderly

part of an expansive

eternal wholeness.

So big, beyond the edges

and borders

there is freedom within

a Love beyond reason.

Even in this tiniest of moments,

it is made known,

it is there, as it always was

Source, the Divine, Reality, Truth….

always present, never alone, never waiting.

So I pray

from this experience

with humility and gratitude

for being a part of this

Great Love,

in relationship with the Divine

and all others

from this knowing comes

a way of living in this world.

We are love, we are loved,

we act from love,

our perception, choices,

words and thoughts

begin to change and unfold

from a place much bigger

than who we think we are.

As Love moves through us

we pray in gratitude,

we pray to remember,

we pray for love

and for that eternal connection

and all that we do and are

becomes Devotion.”

~by Nancy Carlson

**Posted on womenspiritualpoetry.blogspot.com  -March 2014

 

 

 

 

In Hope for Spring…

 

Ayurvedic tips to help maintain health and wellness balance in the changing of the seasons….

 

Spring is the season of transition, birth, new beginnings, renewal and growth. In Ayurveda we learn to observe and understand nature, so that we can understand ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be “in tune” with nature, we learn to be in the flow with each changing season.

Winter is a season of building; spring is a season of releasing. We eat more heavily in the winter for insulation and our digestion is stronger. By the time spring arrives, most likely we have accumulated some of the heavier foods of winter and the channels of our body can become clogged. One may notice that our appetite has decreased, we feel a heaviness in our bodies, we are susceptible to colds, coughs, allergies, congestion, increased mucus, fatigue, weight gain, foggy brain and lethargy. Some of us will crave salads, greens and lighter foods. Spring is the time to support the elimination of any accumulated excess and allow our channels to re-open and flow.

As the temperature starts to become warmer, the snow and ice melt, rivers flow and get muddy, sap flows from trees and we see little sprouts and buds starting to grow! It feels that there is a renewal or cleansing happening, there is more light and warmth and new growth begins.

Spring is the hope of a fresh, clean start. Whatever we are carrying around from winter is released, cleansed, de-cluttered and makes space for energy to flow, channels to open and room for new life to arise. Spring-cleaning happens outside in nature and inside all of us. It is time to sweep, open all the doors and windows and let the light in!

In Ayurveda, it is said, that “like increases like” and opposites are used to create balance. The qualities of spring are: heavy, cold and oily. To create balance, use lightness, warmth, dryness and sharpness in our lives. In winter we eat more sweet, sour and salty foods. In spring we eat more pungent, bitter and astringent to create balance. Mother nature provides those foods in dark greens, asparagus, rhubarb, pomegranates and many others.

 

Some spring Ayurveda tips…

  • Eat less when the appetite is less. Make breakfast and dinner smaller meals and lunch the largest meal of the day.
  • To strengthen the digestive fire, eat light, warming food and add more pungent, bitter and astringent foods. Use spices to cook with, such as, ginger, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander and fennel.
  • Avoid cold, heavy, oily foods, iced drinks, processed foods, frozen, canned, non-organic, GMO foods, deep fried, leftovers and heavy sweets. Use dairy, foods that are sour, sweet and salty, raw foods and breads in moderation, or not at all. These are all hard to digest.
  • Keep it simple…steamed vegetables, spicy brothy soups, lighter grains, sweet juicy fruits cooked with spices and use less oil.
  • Exercise early in the morning, sometime between 6-10am or in the evening 6-10pm.
  • Avoid snacking and have an early dinner, then take a walk outside.
  • Drink herbal teas such as ginger, dandelion or CCF (cumin/coriander/fennel) to strengthen digestion and promote cleansing.
  • Scrape your tongue to remove bacteria and use a neti pot to clean nasal passages.
  • Dry brush your skin in the morning to assist in lymphatic drainage. Use warm sesame oil for self-massage for the whole body, leave on for 15-20 minutes and then shower.
  • Breath deeply and take time to turn your attention inward with meditation, journaling, reflection, gratitude and discover new intentions, creativity and joy!

Mother Earth is waking up and so are we. Spring is a season of celebration, movement, inspiration, love, sunshine, bird song and the bloom of color returning. Align oneself with the flow and beauty of spring. Keep the chest open and the heart-space expanded…wishing you all a happy springtime!!