Fall is a time of transition and is not always easy on the body. So what I want to focus on are ways to take care of our senses, making sure that they’re not stretched at a time when imbalances can take hold easily in the body as well as in the mind.
We are in the midst of being overly stimulated as media vies for our attention in overly dramatic ways, stealing our prana or life force. So this is also a good time to hone our awareness and to take extra care.
We must digest to be our best!
And not just the digestion of food stuffs, but also digestion of images and digestion of sounds.
With the seasons changing, we want to keep everything flowing as smoothly as possible so that we can avoid the flus and colds prevalent in the winter. And I know that the following suggestions can help!
Watching violent movies and listening to screaming political rhetoric can be just as detrimental to our health as eating fast and overly processed foods. They stimulate the senses quickly (or taste ‘good’ in the moment), but will never be deeply nourishing or satisfying! Like eating a cheap candy bar –your energy will quickly spike and you will either need another quick fix or your energy will plummet. A diet full of candy will eventually make you sick and an addiction to its ‘fix’ will further dull the senses so that it will be difficult to regain footing.
The same goes for addiction to overstimulating, processed and too-fast-to-assimilate images and sounds.
So I have several pieces of wisdom which are reminders for us all, especially during seasonal and political changes.
How to digest food better
Intermittent fasting is the rage. It is a good idea to give the body a rest from constantly having to digest, especially during the spring and fall. Plus, fasting reboots the digestive fire. However, those of us who work a lot or who are older, thinner and/or with blood sugar issues should know that the break between dinner and break-fast counts as fasting. Drinking warm water or ginger tea after an early dinner and first thing in the morning will help your system to clear, making digestive functioning more efficient.
Those who want to go a little further could consider a mono-fast. That’s where you eat one easily digested food for several days in a row, giving your system a break from digesting dozens of food types and ingredients. This food could be a lightly cooked soup (or a pureed vegetable soup which is my favorite choice), rice or the Indian/Ayurvedic dish of kitcharee, which is split mung beans and white basmati rice cooked with spices.
Water fasts are rarely recommended since they are hard on our bodies and can cause undue stress.
Giving the digestive system a rest before continuing on with healthy and more easily digested cooked, plant based meals and foods is the way to go this time of year.
And remember: Ayurveda knows that raw foods are more difficult to digest than cooked, so baking an apple is better than eating it raw. However you decide to give your digestive system a rest, just make sure that your blood sugar doesn’t fluctuate. You should never feel faint or uptight (hangry!), especially when working and taking care of a family. Moderation is everything unless you’re under medical supervision or have 100 percent of your time to dedicate to a fast or cleanse.
Digesting what you see
Our eyes are considered a digestive organ, alochaka pitta. We must process everything that we take in through them. Have you ever witnessed a scene (like a bad accident) that you simply couldn’t stomach? That’s because accident scenes are difficult to digest. When we don’t digest something fully, it can cause a form of indigestion in the mind. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is, from an Ayurvedic perspective, extreme mental indigestion.
My advice here is to surround yourself with easily digestible images and do so on a regular basis. Honoring your space can also be a part of that. A vase full of fresh flowers, clean surroundings, soft lighting are considered to be sattvic and will create a sense of peace which is easy on the mind. Of course, being in nature is a perfect remedy– when the weather is pleasant.
Blue skies, green trees, colorful flowers are not only easy to digest, but will subtly nourish the spirit–a necessary and needed reboot in these modern times.
Digesting what you hear
Ether, the lightest of the elements, is the medium through which sounds are transferred. Digesting sound happens through a complex process of hearing. And what we hear also affects our state of health. Think of emotional abuse when the abuser never lays a finger on the abused, yet the abused can suffer mentally, long after harsh words or criticisms are uttered. That is because the words could not be fully digested, creating a block that is indigestible to the mind.
I recently heard a story from my mentor about a person who takes a sound fast once a week, maintaining absolute silence–which could be akin to fasting from food for a whole day. We, unfortunately, have adapted to excess stimulation of the senses with unlimited access to screen time, so imagine the discipline it would take for some of us to be in absolute silence for a 24 hour period. Even our doctors’ offices and car repair shops have television screens blasting their noise at us. So we must make conscious efforts to take a break from this onslaught. Of course, not everyone has the chance to experience a whole day of silence, but we do have off switches on every one of our devices. And we’re, hopefully, not in a doctor’s waiting room or car repair shop often.
Sattvic sounds are, again, found in nature~ the chirping of birds, the rustling of the leaves, the lapping of the ocean waves, the babbling of a stream. A child’s laugh, a cat’s meow…these are all digestible
much more so than hearing about violence happening thousands of miles from our current reality.
With the change of seasons now on us and with the days getting shorter as we head towards solstice, it is important to clear and to nourish the senses with mindful breaks from prana stealing activities and behaviors.
I invite us all to set aside some time to ease up on heavy food intake, take a break from the news, and spend time in nature.
Remember that breaks from our involvement in the over-stimulating world around will help our systems preserve our energy and give us the fire that our bodies and minds will need in order to deal with the inevitable challenges of modern life and the season ahead.
With that, friends, I wish you all many peaceful and easily digested moments; for it is peaceful moments that truly nourish the soul.