"Good health! Whenever you go out-of-doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of your head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handclasp." Elbert Hubbard
This month, draw your chin in. Empower yourself by getting all the energy, gusto, and happiness you can into your everyday life.
WEEK I: Energy, calm, and joy — you can get all of these from the food that you eat. The trick is to eat in accordance with the rhythm of the seasons. As you read this, subtle changes in season have set in already. From October through February, Vata qualities are going to dominate — which means you'll experience cold, dry, rough conditions in the coming months. To balance the effects of Vata around you, start the month with this resolution: "I will eat warm, cooked foods as much as possible." If you can keep this simple resolve, you'll be rewarded with some excellent health benefits. Some suggestions to help you decide on which foods to eat and what to avoid this season: Cook with olive oil or ghee, both of which calm down restless Vata. Drink hot milk or Organic Vata Tea. Avoid cold sandwiches, cold salads, and dry cereals with cold milk. Begin the day with a warm stewed apple, cream of wheat cereal, and warm milk. Eat vegetable curry or warm cooked vegetables with a dash of Organic Vata Churna, rice with ghee, and mung dhal soup for lunch. Snack on a chapati (flat bread made of wheat), dates, or fresh fruit with warm milk. Stay away from coffee and other caffeinated drinks — they aggravate Vata. Try hearty soups and bread for dinner. Take a cup of warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg and some sugar or honey just before bedtime to promote sound sleep.
WEEKEND I: This weekend, whatever your age, ponder just a while about the passage of time, which is, unfortunately, often a euphemism for aging. Although life expectancy in America has increased constantly (it is approximately 76 years today and is expected to reach 83 years by 2050), the real measure of good health is the extent to which you can enjoy those years. Everyone, at some point in life, has to tread a healing path. Why wait until you are compelled to take the first steps? Start now — today — this very moment. The easiest, and most empowering thing you can do toward repairing the wear-and-tear of the years is to start taking Amrit, Maharishi Ayurveda's herbal rasayana that has been shown to defuse destructive, age-accelerating free radicals 1,000 times better than antioxidant vitamins C or E. Rejuvenate, build immunity, and feel serene with the goodness of Amrit.
WEEK II: Discover, this week, the joy of movement. In a recent interview, model and businesswoman Kathy Ireland said, "Being healthy means more than 100 sit-ups and 40 pushups. Since having children, my exercise has taken a back seat, so I've found new ways of making it doable. Weaving in exercise routines to keep my body strong is great for me." Children, work, stress — we all have factors in our lives that can compel us to put exercise on the back burner. But those who, like Kathy, have discovered how to weave a simple workout into their days are those who look and live younger. Does "working out" conjure in your mind visions of heavy weights and marathon runs? Relax. Ayurvedic healers actually advise against vigorous workouts of that kind. They recommend light, non-strenuous exercise like walking or yoga asanas. Done regularly, these activities yield tremendous balancing and healing benefits.
WEEKEND II: Beat the stress of your week by treating your senses to healing aromas every weekend evening. A recent research study in England showed that lavender-based oil was as effective as medication in relieving insomnia in hospital patients. And lavender is only one among dozens of aromas that can promote feelings of calm and cheer. Maharishi Ayurveda's dosha-balancing aromas and candlelit diffusers are a great way to scent a room naturally. As the lamp heats up, oils are released into the air. When inhaled, the scents stimulate the olfactory nerve endings in the nose, and have a healing influence on the limbic area of the brain, which controls memory and emotions.
WEEK III: This week, go to work with the resolve that you'll seek balance in everything you do — not perfection. The quest for perfection stresses you out; the quest for balance restores you. Breathe deeply — this will help you remain calm under pressure. Introspect: are you happy in what you are doing? If not, what are your options? Re-examine your goals and priorities — even small ones. Read a joke, then share it with a friend. In all you do, seek to feel good about yourself and other people. Balance is the keyword in ayurvedic healing: if you work, love, eat, play, and live in moderation, you'll live long and happy. And there's no better time to remember this than on a full, busy schedule.
WEEKEND III: Just for two days, simulate the old times — times when there were no microwave ovens and instant foods. A report in Taste for Life magazine quotes Sally Fallon, founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, as saying that America's food supply bears so little resemblance to the diet that spawned the human race that it leaves our bodies starved for essential nutrients. Ayurvedic healers have always said that microwaved and preservative-laden foods are foods devoid of essential life force, and hence best avoided. In the chaos of daily life, it is almost impossible to give up dependence on convenience gadgets and foods. But for two relaxed days, it can be worthwhile to try going as natural as you can. Pick your foods with care. Cook them slowly, lovingly — and eat them warm and fresh. Try it this weekend — who knows, you might do it again the next one!
WEEK IV: This week, focus on your skin. It really does need your attention — especially now that the drying Vata dosha is in the air, and deep winter just around the corner. It is no doubt easier to think about skin care on the weekend, but if you devote even 15 minutes on your skin every working day, you'll feel an amazing difference in skin texture and complexion. If you already have a dry, Vata-type skin, then those 15 minutes will count even more. Self-massage, or abhyanga with a good-quality oil is now, more than ever, an essential. Besides, Vata skin should avoid soaps and alcohol, which rob skin of moisture. Rich Youthful Skin Oil, soft sponges, regular spritzing with Organic Rose Water or floral mists will make a dramatic difference to your skin. Just 15 minutes! That's all it takes.
WEEKEND IV: Sattva, or goodness, is the highest of the gunas, or qualities, say ayurvedic healers. The good thing is, you can bring more sattva into your heart and mind if you take the time to think about other people once every now and then. Think about cancer, for instance. For millions across the world, the word continues to mean suffering and hopelessness. You can help! There are dozens of ways: provide free daycare for children of cancer patients, become a volunteer with a breast cancer foundation, hike or run to raise funds, or simply give the gift of your time and attention to someone who needs it. What's more, you can help yourself and others not fall victim to this dreaded disease by reading up on cancer. This weekend, delve into The Answer to Cancer, by authors Hari Sharma and James Meade. Each chapter of this book offers surprisingly simple you-can-do-it advice on anti-cancer living. Start your day with a stewed apple. Cook with turmeric. Be nice! Follow this advice in your own life and share it with others. In the bargain, if you bring more sattva into your being, what can be more wonderful?
WEEK V: Just three days to go before October ends — make the most of these days by creating the perfect evening ambience around you. Relax on your porch, deck or balcony with herbal tea — choose from among Maharishi Ayurveda's Mind/Body beverages that balance doshas and promote calm. Browse the pages of a good health magazine. Jot down a simple but nourishing dinner menu and then proceed to cook it. Go to bed early and wake up fresh to greet a crisp new day.
Have an exhilarating October. We'll bring you inspiring new resolutions next month.
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.