Weekend I: June kicks off on a weekend. The kids are home for the summer, the air is warm, flowers are in bloom, and plans for your vacations are made. And it's the middle of a joyful year. What can be a better time for taking stock of your health goals?
Sit down with pen and paper, and ask yourself these questions: Has my health improved since I started following the joyful living resolutions? In body, mind and spirit? Which areas of my life do I feel need more attention? What ayurvedic habits have I been able to cultivate? Which others have I found beneficial but could follow more regularly? How do I feel at the end of each day?
This stock-taking shouldn't take you more than 15 minutes, but once you have done it, you will be better informed about your own health. Just like taking stock of the kitchen pantry helps you prepare a good, complete shopping list, your assessment of your health will lead you to think about newer, more refreshing ways to feel great.
Once you have redefined your goals, read an uplifting book on ayurveda to set you on the course afresh — if you are new to ayurveda, we recommend "A Woman's Best Medicine" by Nancy Lonsdorf, Veronica Butler, and Melanie Brown. If you are already familiar with ayurveda, read "Contemporary Ayurveda" by Hari Sharma and Christopher Clark — it offers you summaries of research studies and deeper insights.
Week I: Depending on what your stock-taking told you, devote this week to cultivating ONE single good habit of your choice. Is it exercise you need more of? Start by taking a 10-minute walk every evening. Ayurveda recommends walking as one of the highest forms of exercise, for it balances all three doshas and gives you a whole-body workout without strain. Did you find you need more time with yourself? Try waking up one hour earlier than your usual time, or slip into meditation mode just 20 minutes a day: for maximum benefit, learn the Transcendental Meditation® technique, which is a proven way to increase your creativity, tranquility and happiness levels.
Weekend II: This weekend, make up some sachets of herbs and dried flowers for your pillows, your closets and your bathrooms. Aromatherapy is a time-honored way of bringing balance to your environment. Choose soothing, relaxing herbs for bedtime sachets and joyfully uplifting ones for your car or your living areas. Put a copy of the Rain Raga melody in your car. Its lilting strains will dispel stress whenever you play it.
Week II: Sattva, says ayurveda, is the highest quality a human being can possess. It gives us the ability to visualize well, think right, do good and act in accordance with the laws of nature. One great way to build sattva is to satisfy your natural urges as and when they arise. Yawning, sleeping and urinating are among the most commonly suppressed urges, and when you suppress them you act against nature. This week, resolve to listen to your urges and give them priority.
Supplement your sattva-building efforts by choosing the right foods. "Foods that promote life, lucidity, strength, health, happiness, and satisfaction, and that are savory, rich in oil, firm and heart-gladdening are agreeable to the sattva-natured person," says the Bhagavad Gita. Give yourself some sattva-enhancing nourishment this week. Milk, fresh yogurt and ghee are considered foods for yogis, so pure and nourishing are they. As for cheese, ayurveda recommends home-made fresh cheese (paneer) as a sattva-enhancing food. It's easy to make at home. On the weekend, try making paneer using the simple recipe below; then use your imagination to stir up some nourishing delights with the fresh cheese.
Weekend III: Buy whole milk, preferably organic, and some lemons. That is all you will need to make delicious, soft panir at home. Recipe for panir: Bring whole milk to a boil, being careful not to burn it. Add fresh lemon juice and stir. Keep adding more lemon juice and stirring until the milk solids separate and a faintly cloudy, not milky, whey forms. Strain the whey through a muslin cloth. Squeeze the cloth to draw out all liquid and place the paneer (in the cloth) under a heavy weight for a few hours. When the cloth is then opened, a chunky brick of panir should be formed. Dice into cubes for use, or crumble for use in recipes.
Week III: When you wake up on Monday morning, pay attention to the way your mouth feels. Stick out your tongue and see if it is coated. Does your breath feel very stale? That means you probably have too many accumulated toxins in your physiology. Plus, anyone who has ever suffered bad breath knows it makes you feel less confident, less sociable and less joyful. Therefore, good dental hygiene is an essential part of good mental hygiene.
It is for this reason that ayurveda advises devoting special care to your morning ablution routine. Filled with the healing goodness of neem, MAPI's all-natural Ayurdent Toothpaste cleanses deep toxins from the teeth and oral cavity. Also, gently scraping the tongue with a tongue scraper after brushing is a must, for the soft surface of the tongue is a fertile thriving ground for bacteria. Also take steps to cleanse your body from the inside to get rid of ama (toxic build-up).
WEEKEND IV: Because weekends are a time to unwind and pamper yourself, pay attention this Saturday to the health of your joints. Not motivated enough to do this? Then bone up on these scary statistics:
Two million American men and eight million American women suffer from osteoporosis.
Women lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years following menopause, according to the National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Disease National Resource Center.
Besides good nutrition and exercise, lubricating the joints with a good-quality herbal oil removes accumulated toxins from the joints, creating balance and hence better joint health. Herbs like winter cherry (ashwagandha) and dry ginger root have for centuries been known to lubricate joints and promote suppleness. MAPI's wealth of joint-healing formulas includes massage oils, balms, rubs and aromas. Click on Joints & Bones to learn more.
WEEK IV: Begin this week with the affirmation that though stress cannot be avoided altogether, you'll do your best to minimize it. And you can — if you resolve to stop racing against time, just for the coming five days. The resolution should be easy to keep if you remind yourself that time-strugglers, or those who suffer from "hurry sickness" are known to be more prone to elevated blood pressure, heart disease and divorce. On a physical level, stress generates free radicals, whose damaging effects age you in body and mind. Combat this constant attack with the potent healing power of Amrit — proven by modern scientific research to nourish body and mind like no other supplement ever has... And that is saying something.
On this positive note, we wish you an ultra-joyful June. Look for new healing resolutions in July.
Watch for more week-by-week resolutions in our next issue.
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.