Stop, Look, Stop!
Ayurveda and Contentment
"The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things." — Epictetus
"Joyful." The very word has such a warm, fuzzy feel to it.
But when was the last time you felt truly, totally joyful?
If you're happy with what you have and what you are doing, it's easy to be joyful. That is why ayurvedic healers see contentment and health as synonyms — they define total health as swasthya: a Sanskrit word that means "settled in oneself" (swa: self; stha: established).
But in today's world, swasthya is becoming increasingly hard to achieve. That's because most of us are chasing happiness in the wrong places. We're looking for it in terms of job success, social approval and money.
Imagine that you are on a journey. Along the way, you pass many a beautiful garden. What a pity if you just keep driving along, watching the landscape through your windscreen — never taking the time to stop, step out and take in the fresh air, touch a soft petal, or breathe in the fragrance.
In much the same way, we're all speeding through life, hurtling ourselves toward goals that are, at best, dubious in their capacity to make us truly joyful.
But the great thing about life is that you can apply the brakes anytime. Whatever your age and however deep your stresses, you can stop to re-examine your attitudes — to smell that rose. Then, with a new set of eyes, you can proceed afresh — on a new journey toward joyfulness.
Getting rid of some old mindsets and acquiring new ones along the way will make this new journey a breeze.
OLD MINDSET: "I don't look good."
How can your journey of life be a pleasant one if you're unhappy in the thought that you appear less-than-attractive to the world?
Lack in body confidence is one of the most common reasons people don't feel good about themselves. Some time back, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health published a survey of 3,500 people who were asked to assess their self-image. The survey found that women in particular are prone to feeling fat — even though more men are overweight.
NEW MINDSET: "If I can find a few minutes for myself every hour or so, I can look and feel great."
In ayurvedic philosophy, negative self-image is the result of what is called pragya aparadh, or a mistake of the intellect. The human intellect becomes prone to committing errors when the mind and body are subjected to stress at work, tensions at home, lack of good sleep, irregular routines, and improper diet. Each of these has the potential to make you feel down in the dumps, disrupt your metabolic rhythm, affect the quality of your skin and hair, and thus, cause the intellect to commit the mistake of feeling inferior.
To restore the wisdom of your intellect, start by taking one simple step. Slow down and give yourself some much-deserved attention. Find time to make up to your body and mind for the days, weeks, months, or possibly years of neglect. Don't feel guilty about having done all that neglecting — we all do it to some degree.
Start with the body. The great thing is that our bodies are not only very resilient, but also incredibly responsive to the smallest gesture of kindness. Five simple ways you can feel good about the way you look:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. It restores moisture balance to your skin, cleanses your system, and makes you glow.
- Give your skin some intensive lipid support. Maharishi Ayurveda's range of herbal Youthful Skin products will help you cleanse, tone, and moisturize your skin just the way nature intended it.
- Eat fresh, warm foods as often as you can — fresh vegetables, seasonal fruits, whole grains. Filled with sattva, or natural goodness, such foods bring bliss to the body and the mind.
- Treat your body to a warm oil massage every morning — and if possible, massage your lower limbs, hands and feet before bed with a light, quick-penetrating massage oil such as the Youthful Skin Massage Oils for Men and Women. Daily massage, or abhyanga, is immensely calming and rejuvenating.
- Get rid of those under-eye bags and that tired feeling. Ensure that you get restful sleep every night. Among Maharishi Ayurveda's self-care systems are herbal combinations that will help you get "Blissful Sleep" each night.
OLD MINDSET: "All work and no play...is old hat. If I want that job/promotion/car...and I DO, I need to work, work, work!"
It's a not-so-heartening statistic: one in every three Americans works at the desk and downs lunch at the same time. An equal number never leave the office during the day, according to a recent Oxford Health Plans survey.
Are you really happy spending most of your life's journey inside those four walls?
NEW MINDSET: "No: I won't be a POW (Prisoner of Work). I'll take care not to burn out — because unlike a car or a microwave, I cannot be replaced!"
For some people, work is akin to worship. This is not a bad thing in itself, except when goals related to job success take precedence over other, just-as-fulfilling aspects of daily living.
It needn't be this way. It is perfectly possible to achieve both success and happiness if you keep your goals in perspective.
Taking just 20 minutes in the morning and evening to practice a meditation technique such as Transcendental Meditation® is a tremendous way to shed your daily stresses and lead the mind toward its natural state of restfulness.
Further, Nature has gifted earth with bountiful healing herbs that can infuse their timeless intelligence into the human mind, making it feel rejuvenated and strong once again. Maharishi Ayurveda harvests and blends the best of these herbs in precise proportions, using traditional, time-tested methods. Hundreds of people feeling the effects of job burnout aver that ayurvedic herbal supplements such as Amrit, Organic Youthful Mind, Worry Free Tea, Blissful Joy, and Slumber Time Tea have helped them tremendously.
The herbs in these formulas go to work on the tiniest tissues of your being, restoring the flow of natural intelligence throughout your body and mind.
OLD MINDSET: "I really do want to spend time with my friend/take a vacation with my spouse, but oh well, someday, when I have the time."
How often do you experience that light-hearted feeling that comes with being near someone you love? You might just want to experience it more often when you read this: researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have actually analyzed that feeling. It is not simply your heart lifting, but your blood pressure dropping! So now you have a solid health reason to find time for those you care about.
NEW MINDSET: "The company of good, positive people is nourishment for my mind, spirit, and yes, body! Why postpone that joy?"
Therefore, do something today that will bring you one step closer to a family member or a friend. Some ideas:
- Write that thank-you note.
- Take time to phone a friend.
- Plan a vacation with someone you love — even if it is a day-trip.
- Cook a healthful ayurvedic meal together with a friend. Cook using Maharishi Ayurveda's delicious Churnas and ghee — they are convenient and made from the finest ingredients.
- Give a friend or a neighbor a gift of Maharishi Ayurveda's healing mind-body beverages, such as Slumber Time Tea, Be Trim Tea or Raja's Cup.
Think of these small steps as "scenic overlooks" which give you time to stop and enjoy the beauty of life and living.
Wishing you a joyful journey!
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.