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While stress gets a lot of press because of its harmful effects on your health, guilt is usually overlooked as being equally destructive. Whether someone tries to make you feel guilty or you succumb to it yourself, what good comes from feeling guilty? Remorse for hurting somebody is one thing, but oftentimes we feel guilty because we ate cake, or because we think we're not doing something well enough. What if we turned guilt around and practiced loving kindness toward ourselves, accepting that we are good enough and that we're all doing the best we can? We might finally experience a new level of well-being and breathe a huge sigh of relief.
One of the worst things we can do during a meal is to feel guilty about what we're eating. Think of the mental stress we create if we're not enjoying our food, but rather feeling stressed about it? I'm not advocating that you eat junk food and feel good about it, but that you choose food consciously and then savor it. One of the explanations I like regarding why French people are generally thin is that they take time to really enjoy their food. In my blog post about learning this lesson with donuts, I share how I had to confront my desire for donuts so I could then let go of it and move beyond the guilt I had created around it.
One of the most beautiful things about Ayurveda is the way spices are used not only to make food more delicious, but also to heal and balance your body. Autumn is the season dominated by Vata, otherwise known as Wind. You can easily keep your body, mind, and spirit in balance with the Vata season by including Ayurvedic spices in your cooking. Here's a recipe for a Vata spice mixture that you can carry with you when you eat out, or add to your meals at home. You can also take 1/2 tsp. of this mixture with warm water in between meals any time you're experiencing gas and bloating.
Vata Digestive Spice Powder
Grind the following spices and combine in decreasing quantities:
Cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, dry ginger powder, turmeric, sucanat, mineral salt, hing (aka asafoetida).
Benefits of Vata Spices
Vata is cold and dry. In autumn when it's also cold and dry, it's important to keep your body warm with good circulation. Warming, pungent spices accomplish this by keeping your digestive fire stoked. Ayurveda also teaches that for optimal digestion, all 6 tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent) should be present in a meal. This spice mixture has all tastes except sour, so just squirt a little lemon or lime on your meal to round it out.
Sometimes the signposts that re-direct our lives come in unexpected ways. We always have a choice – to acknowledge and follow those signs, or to ignore them because they don’t fit in with our “plan.” Especially when it comes to discovering our ultimate purpose in life, it’s never too early to pay attention and change the game plan.
Why wait until you’ve spent 30 years in the wrong job to discover what the universe has been trying to tell you?
I truly believe that we’re constantly being sent messages to guide us on our path, and we just have to look for them to know what our path is.
Sometimes these signs come in disguised packages.
One of the things I’m most grateful for in my life is that I discovered Ayurveda when I was 22 years old. Though I had planned to do community development work in South Africa, my life took a turn when I became introduced to Ayurveda through The Yoga of Herbs by Dr. Vasant Lad.
Here’s the juicy story:
I was recently asked about the epidemic numbers of people suffering from food allergies, specifically dairy and soy products. This population in the U.S. is so large that in fact the foods themselves have come to be considered generally "bad." While certain natural substances are indeed toxic, these foods are not, in and of themselves, actually the problem. The problem lies, as you will see, in the conditions in which these foods are produced, as well as the condition of most people's digestion in modern society. Below are the many reasons why dairy and soy have become such serious food issues, some of which come from the traditional wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine, and some of which are explained by modern environmental and nutritional science.
Autumn is upon us, and so is the cold and flu season. In Ayurveda, this is known as Vata season. Vata is translated as Wind in Tibetan medicine, and in many climates we are likely to see some windy weather and some "windy" nervous systems as well!
There are many easy steps you can take to keep your nervous system grounded and your immunity strong during this transitional time.
If you find yourself having any of the following typical Vata symptoms then you will definitely want to take preventative measures.
*lack of concentration, distractibility
*dry skin, hair, and sinuses
*thirst, gas and bloating
*stiff, achey muscles and joints
1. One of the best Vata pacifying therapies is abhyanga = warm sesame oil self-massage. This is best done before a hot shower. This therapy not only moisturizes the skin, but more importantly it nourishes the muscles and joints, grounds the nervous system, promotes restful sleep, and strengthens immunity.
2. Nasya = Herbal oil nasal drops. Again, this therapy calms Vata at its point of entry, and also lubricates the sinuses so that the dryness of autumn doesn't cause inflammation and reactivity to dust, smoke and pollens.
If you suffer from nasal congestion, sinusitis, or respiratory infections, this is the number one preventative therapy for you.
3. Superfood tonics. My favorites are Maca root, Chinese 5 Mushroom Formula, and Blue-Green Algae. All of these strengthen your immunity in different ways. Taken regularly, these superfoods prevent illness and provide maximum nutrition on a cellular level. They are also adrenal tonics, which helps to combat the effects of stress and fatigue.
4. Seasonal Foods = If you shop at the farmers' markets, you see winter squashes, sweet potatoes, beets, and kale. These foods are perfect to balance Vata and keep the body warm and well nourished. It is best to transition away from raw foods and fruit smoothies and move into warm soups and stews as the weather gets colder. This keeps your digestion in peak health.
5. Regular acupuncture treatments. My patients that receive weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly treatments get sick the least. It is most effective to get regular acupuncture even when you don't have an acute issue. When we address subtle imbalances before they become full-blown illness, it is much easier to treat.
I hope the tips in this article help you to stay in balance with the seasons and our natural environment. This time of year is so glorious, I want you feel great so you can be out enjoying it!