Let’s put Ojas in perspective~
In Ayurveda, life is explained through the 5 elements or the three doshas or subtle doshas: Prana, Tejas, and Ojas. We possess all three of these things, without them, there would be no life as we know it.
Prana = the life force itself that rides in air and in fresh foods as these are its vehicle. It is what animates us, what we need to keep breathing in and out. It is like the force of the universe breathing through us, if you will. Without prana, without this animation, we stop moving and the process of decay begins. Prana is also the subtle force of the air element, that which moves, flows, pushes, igniting the fire and stimulating the water and earth elements.
Tejas = the fire of transformation. It is found in our digestive system when our juices are able to transform a complex meal of vegetables, grains, and meats into blood and tissues. It’s found in the fire of our thoughts as we process ideas and create things out of concepts. Without it, there would be no creativity, no heat, no sun, no photosynthesis, no changes, no life. Tejas is the subtle form of the fire element, processing, transforming–the alchemy of the spirit.
Ojas = that which stabilizes. It is found in the densest and most fluid (synovial) parts of our bodies and keeps us from burning up (fire) or turning to dust (air). It’s the basis of our immune system, keeping us strong. It is made of water and earth, but is mostly water. It is the source fluid and is nourished in the subtle level of the heart. Without it, we would have no stability, no grounding, no connection to the earth Herself.
On the most subtle level, our immune system or ojas is seated in the heart. The strength of our immune system and its connection to the heart is beyond what I can explain in this (relatively short) newsletter, but the heart is connected to a deep sense of fulfillment. What brings us joy, in the truest sense, helps our bodies to withstand the onslaught of never ending viruses and germs around us. Our form, dependent upon the strength of our ojas, is what keeps us ‘grounded’ enough to be able to be in the world without being ‘blown around’ or ‘burning out.’ Without ojas or the stability of our immune strength we simply could not withstand the challenges of the earth’s ecosystems and our connection to nature would be lost.
The heart is where ojas is nourished.
When studying interpretations of Vedic knowledge, I read something the other day about how true nourishment begins in the heart. And it reminded me of one story in particular. It’s about a former colleague of mine who was always in great shape– nice guy, beautiful family. He didn’t smoke or drink much, always had a smile on his face, was kind and fair in all of his dealings.
Then, seemingly out of the blue, an illness that doctors could never really explain, took him for an incredible ride of pain. It was as if his immune system had quit functioning, affecting his kidneys and other major organs.
He came back to work, briefly, for he was only middle aged and still had a family to support. But his condition got so bad very quickly that he had to resign.
I remember talking to him one day in his office. We were looking at one another with the same inquisitive expression. Why did this have to happen? In fact, what did happen?
He shook his head, looked at me and said in his characteristic southern drawl, “Par. I felt that all this started the very moment they told me that I wasn’t going to get that promotion that I knew I deserved. I just felt something in my body the second they told me the news. Something happened to me that day…”.
You could tell that my friend and colleague was deeply hurt. And whatever the illness was (I believe he had a strong predisposition for it, just as we all do for certain diseases) took hold when the immune system gave up through disheartening news.
This is not ever to say that we’ll come down with some dreaded disease if we don’t get a certain job, mate, or promotion. But if our hearts are not fully nourished, then we can become vulnerable. And sometimes that vulnerability affects our physical body.
No one can say, of course, if this is true for all diseases humans get. No one has all the answers to what makes some of us live longer than others and what makes each individual tick. We are all so different.
But I thought of this the other day when the discussion came up about ojas and the heart.
The word rasa means juice. To keep one juicy, passion flowing (not in the lustful way) will help to stabilize our immune systems and keep us as strong as we can possibly be. Though passion is usually likened to the fire element, this nourishment comes from another kind of passion– the passion of self love and deep connection. This passion has juice. Ojas depends on this juice.
How can we strengthen our immune system, our ojas, our hearts?
Dr. David Frawley remarks that ojas is replenished by special foods such as ghee. I also think that all good, juicy, nourishing foods as well as healthy oils create stability and nourish our systems and our hearts. Oil, after all, is the seed–the very start of nature herself. And consuming good quality oils and using oils on our bodies helps to ground and to nourish us. Oil, in Ayurveda, is also equated to love.
Meditation practices and spending time in nature helps to replenish ojas. And so do mantras or sounds such as Om. (Amen)
Ojas is pure, so anytime we connect with our deepest and most connected-to-the-Divine-selves, we will nourish this heart of ours on the most profound level. This is why faith increases ojas. And the faith in knowing that things are exactly as they are meant to be this very moment in your life.
Our Valentine’s Day gift throughout the year for ourselves should be for the nourishment of our hearts–to find that which truly fulfills us and ‘juices’ us up, that Divine connection that could be fostered by sowing those seeds of self worth again and again.
My practice in increasing ojas involves sitting and breathing deeply into my body, giving thanks to the connection I have with That which sustains me. I don’t think of it as getting more ojas, but more like a replenishment so that this rushed and hyped up world doesn’t get the best of me.
Beyond the box of chocolates, the cards, and the little presents that can be bought for us, sometimes a reminder to replenish our spirits with the juice of this incredible gift of life we’ve been given is all we really need.
May your hearts be nourished this day and always!