WEEK ONE: This week, cultivate a simple habit: slow down just a little. Be it chewing your food or tackling an office problem, just slow down. Rather than make this a broad resolution, remind yourself to slow down each time you find yourself wolfing down a morsel or losing your temper. Slowing down helps you digest, breathe, think and feel more efficiently.
In their book "A Woman's Best Medicine," Nancy Lonsdorf, Veronica Butler and Melanie Brown observe: "As we search for ways to hold our complex lives together, a collective realization is quietly emerging. We are becoming aware that it is time not simply to move ahead but move deep, to regroup from within. Slowing down to comfortable levels in every department of your life is the first practical step toward that regrouping."
WEEKEND: Practice the fine art of eating your food! The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians has this invaluable tip: ayurveda recommends doing three things even before you put the first morsel in your mouth! The first stage is "darshan" — just look at your food; pay attention to what you are going to put inside your body. The body will respond by gearing up to assimilate what is being offered. A small example, he says, is how the sight of chilies makes you salivate. The saliva flows fast in readiness to neutralize the heat from the chili.
The second stage is "sparsh" — touch your food. The ayurvedic practice of eating a meal using one's fingers is significant. It connects you to your food, further inspiring the body to welcome and accept the flavors it is about to encounter.
The third stage is "dhyaan" — just for a moment, close your eyes and visualize the plate before you, ready to offer you its nurturing ingredients. Following these simple steps will help prevent toxic ama from forming in your digestive system. In other words, you will stay healthy.
WEEK II: This week, lavish some extra attention on your crowning glory: your hair. If you use a shampoo laced with chemicals, now is the time to throw it away — those chemicals can strip your hair of its protective oils, causing an imbalance of the dry, airy Vata dosha. Switch to a milder cleanser, coupled with a daily-to-weekly ayurvedic oil massage. The Council recommends almond oil if you have thin, dry, easily-split Vata hair, coconut oil for quick-to-gray Pitta hair, and olive oil if your hair is of the Kapha type: dark, thick, shiny, and prone to oiliness. Apply oil to your hair and gently massage into your scalp. Allow it to penetrate for at least one hour, or leave on overnight; then wash it out.
A word of advice: this and several other weekly resolutions in this planner are ideally habits you must cultivate for life. The idea behind asking you to follow them for just a week is to ease you into doing them and familiarize you with their benefits.
WEEKEND: This weekend, practice a simple yoga posture called Bajarasana to give your digestion a boost. Kneel down and then sit back on your heels. The ideal is to close the eyes and sit in this position for about 10 minutes after your main meal. It helps balance digestion and appetite through the breakdown (Pachaka Pitta) and movement (Samana Vata) of food.
WEEK III: Why not make this a week of drinking ample water. "Water, then, is the most beautiful element and rich in usefulness, and purifies from all filth, and not only from the filth of the body but from that of the soul," says a modern philosopher. How true! Water is the softest, weakest element of nature, and yet it has the power to keep you healthy. Ayurveda believes irrigating yourself with plenty of water throughout the day is the best digestive aid you can give yourself.
Pure water is the ideal beverage with a meal, and it should preferably be at room temperature or warm, not ice-cold. Ice water cools down the digestive agni.
WEEKEND: Go grocery shopping, but not to the nearest supermarket. Drive down to a farmer's market or a local orchard that offers the best and the freshest produce, not artificially ripened fruits and long-stored vegetables.
WEEK IV: Spring is the ideal time for internal cleansing. If you have not started yet, now is the time to begin. Cleansing at home is a matter of following a diet that doesn't create ama, and a lifestyle that supports the body's natural purification processes. Eat a diet of light, cooked, easy-to-digest foods. Sweet juicy fruits are excellent for cleansing the body. Drink lots of fresh warm water. Perform the daily ayurvedic massage (abhyanga). Go to sleep by 10:00 p.m. Supplement your efforts with Maharishi Ayurveda's Detoxification System, which provides a natural, effective way to gently cleanse toxins from the body. While most internal cleansing programs purify the colon and digestive tract only, the Detoxification System does much more. It helps purify the liver, supports balanced fat metabolism, and helps purify the sweat glands and the organs of elimination.
WEEKEND: Color your plate yellow! Try cooking with turmeric, the golden spice. A potent antioxidant, turmeric is known to contain anti-cancer properties, and is good for detoxification of the body. The best way to use turmeric is to sauté it in a little oil or ghee. You can also simmer it in soups or stews. It has water-soluble and fat-soluble components like most spices, so take a bit both ways.
More Joyful Resolutions will come your way in May.
HAPPY PEOPLE ARE NEVER:
Too busy to eat on time
Too hard at work to take a break
Too tired to sleep well
Too lazy to exercise
Too self-occupied to find time for others
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.