Seven Ways to Stay Calm in Tough Times
There is an inspiring chain mail circulating on the Internet these days. It tells you to follow the 90-10 rule for a happier life. The 90-10 equation is as follows:
90% is what happens to you — it's out of your control. 10% is how you react to what happens to you — that is totally in your control.
What can be better advice than this in times that are truly uncertain, and fraught with situations that seem beyond control?
Through Transcendental Meditation®, yoga, diet and good rest, Maharishi Ayurveda advises you to do just this: control how you react to life and its ever-changing situations.
Here are some specific ayurvedic stress-management tips to help you cope better in troubled times:
Reach Out: Loneliness aggravates anxiety. Be in the company of those you love. But instead of merely spending time with family and friends, take steps to rejuvenate your relationships. The best way to do this is to give more of yourself in terms of time, energy and attention.
Take control of your responses: An instant way to calm jittery nerves is to start breathing slow and deep. This brings down the heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension, sending a relaxation response throughout your body and mind. Inhale so that you can feel the air reach right into your abdomen. Take care not to breathe too fast — because if your Vata vahi srotas, or air-circulating channels, are not clear, the oxygen will be distributed unequally in your body, and that can do more harm than good. Therefore, keep the pace easy and the rhythm steady. The use of an aromatherapeutic essential oil at this time — lavender, rose, jasmine or the Vata or Worry Free blend are good choices — will support your deep breathing activity. Do this at least twice a day for 10 minutes each, and you will experience a new sense of bliss.
Eat Right: Ayurveda believes that you really are what you eat. And if that is true, then eat foods that help you relax. Choose foods that help beat back stress-generating free radicals. All fresh and seasonal fruits, lightly-cooked and spiced vegetables, and whole grains will repair your tired mind and body, carrying the goodness down to the tiniest tissues. Antioxidant herbs replete with nature's own intelligence know how to combat this potent enemy, and can help you fight it too. Maharishi Amrit Kalash, called the healing hero of ayurveda, is made from some of the rarest herbs and fruits to supplement your healthful diet and make you feel bright and sunny no matter how gray things look around you.
Drink Up: At least eight glasses of water a day are essential for efficient flushing out of disease-causing toxic matter from your system. When the urge for a hot drink hits, try Raja's Cup, a delicious herbal beverage that calms without the side effects of coffee. What's more, it tastes just like coffee!
Exercise: Moderate exercise is a great way to de-stress. Yoga, which is an integral part of ayurvedic healing, is a way to exercise all parts of your body, while also soothing nerves and balancing the mind. Here is one simple yoga asana you can try when feeling less than cheerful:
Child's Pose (Balasana)
How You Do It: Kneel on your shins, buttocks resting on your heels, knees together. With your arms at your sides, palms up, bend from the hips and extend your upper body over your knees. Resting on your thighs, bring your forehead to the floor. Breathe deeply, hold for as long as is comfortable. Then slowly sit up.
If you have trouble kneeling, placing a pillow between your thighs and calves will help.
What it Does For You: This simple asana floods every cell of the body with both oxygen and prana (life force energy), helping eliminate physical and emotional toxins. The constriction on your legs increases blood supply to the upper body, making respiration more efficient, and energizing the blood, which in turn begins to remove waste gases more efficiently. The pressure from the diaphragm in this posture creates a deep, slow, rhythmic massage of the vital organs, energizing them. Both the quality and the quantity of the blood circulation to these vital organs improve when you are in Child's Pose.
If you hold the pose more than five minutes, deeper benefits occur. The asana has a regulatory effect on the endocrine system. It gets more blood to the head and to the pituitary gland — the master gland that regulates hormonal balance. This makes the Child's Pose an extremely relaxing asana.
Sleep Well: Recognize the sleep robbers around you. Life these days is filled with more worries than just bill-paying and house-cleaning. They can steal the sleep away from your eyes, leaving you feeling unhappy and unwell the next morning. Ayurveda has some excellent tips on how to get quality rest. The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends these sleep-friendly steps:
- Try to go to bed early — between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. This period is ruled by the Kapha dosha, which is associated with calm and restfulness.
- Give yourself a massage every day with an ayurvedic oil — it soothes the joints and nerves, bringing good sleep.
- Poppy seeds have a pleasant sedative effect — add them to your diet.
- Favor peaceful, calming activities before bed.
- Before going to bed, sip Organic Vata Tea in warm milk. Or try the Slumber Time Tea. Both the Blissful Sleep herbal supplement and the Worry Free herbal supplement nourish Prana Vata, which regulates mental activity.
Meditate: The daily practice of Transcendental Meditation can not only drive stress out of your mind, but also change your life in dramatic ways. Extensive research on this meditation technique has established that practicing TM® just 20 minutes, twice a day, is a great way to balance mind and body, increase productivity, enhance personal relations and indeed one's entire approach to life.
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.