Do you srive and struggle more often than not to get things done? Find yourself exhausted yet not sleeping at night? That is not fun and no way to live. Yet suffering in order to feel worthy and deserving is a belief a lot of people carry around. The problem is that, based on the law of attraction, our beliefs become our reality. So if a central belief to the way you live is "I have to work really hard, and make tons of effort in order to be deserving" (successful, happy, lovable or what not....) don't expect things to get easier anytime soon.
The Ayurvedic Lifestyle: In Sync With Nature
The good news is there is another way to live life. One that invites ease, flow and fun (and good sleep at night!). It's called the ayurvedic lifestyle. And it is about living in harmony with Nature, guided from within.
- When’s the last time you felt calm, creative and totally in sync with Life?
- When's the last time you naturally and easily drifted into sound sleep?
- When’s the last time you woke up bursting with enthusiasm about the day ahead?
Maybe you’ve managed to keep your ship afloat by using enormous will power. But isn't that hard? And is it sustainable? Don't get me wrong, will power can work wonders to get us out of a rut, for example. Wisdom-guided will power that is. It is a deep knowing, as in “I know I need to quit this job. I know I need to stop eating this food. I know I need to exercise regularly. And when I do I know I will feel better.” And so you do, propelled by your wisdom-guided will power. But many of us women are disconnected from our innate wisdom. We work, eat, think, dress and socialize according to what is expected of us, instead of operating from our wisdom-centered self. When we lose contact with that fine innermost compass, we feel out of sync with the world and with ourselves. Life feels hard. It's like paddling upstream.
Lessons From the Natural World
In nature everything unfolds with ease. One season inevitably leads to the next, one day to the next, without fail, no faster or slower. A higher intelligence is at work in plants and animals that guides them to seek nourishment in the right amount, at the right time. Animals eat when they are hungry, no more or less than what they need to sustain them. Birds migrate when the winter arrives, intuitively knowing that if they are to survive they'd better head south to warmer climates. So much activity in nature! Yet chronic stress among animals is unheard of. Everything that needs to happen happens in its own time. Why can’t it be the same with us? After all we are part of Nature too. Made of the same elements, subjects to the same laws, and with higher consciousness on top of that. So you'd think...But one problem human beings have is that we try too hard. At everything.
We work hard, work out hard (think boot camps, cross-fit...), play hard, eat hard (by that I mean: restrictive and rigid diets that may exclude gluten, soy, nuts, dairy, sugar, meat, carbs or else. How fun.). We cleanse hard (think Master Cleanse or raw juice cleanses that extend for days). For God's sake even the yoga classes in New York city are full of that hard, striving energy! I see it All. The. Time. It used not to be like that when I began practicing in the early 90's. Parallel to that, and not surprisingly, little time is spent feeling, tuning in, listening, something I always emphasize in my classes as I believe it is the key to deep healing. All this hard-ness (yang) creates tension that cuts us off from our feeling-nature and intuitive guidance (yin). Our modern world is messing us up. On top of trying too hard at everything, we’ve allowed our modern lifestyles to mess up with our natural rhythms. The 2 are closely related. Here is a snapshot of a life lived out of sync with Mother Nature:
We watch TV late, well after the sun's gone down, catch a so-called “second wind” and end up falling asleep past midnight, failing to cash in on that “second wind” energy, a fiery energy meant for nightly cleansing and repair work.
We wake up long after sunrise, feeling heavy and tired, missing the most opportune time of day, early morning, to enjoy a quiet moment with ourselves and get centered before stepping out into the world.
So we rush to work, feeling frazzled. Sure enough a chaotic day unfolds, very much a reflection of our internal state.
We skip lunch, a time of day when our digestion is the strongest and most able to assimilate a large meal.
We workout in the evening, stimulating our system as nature goes to sleep, instead of gently unwinding alongside with it.
We have a big dinner late, when our personal solar center, our digestive fire, like the sun in the sky is slowly dimming. So we don't digest well, which causes toxicity to develop, the root cause of most dis-eases.
We cleanse at any time of year, even when it’s very cold or very hot, often in reaction to feeling like crap without addressing what made us feel like crap in the first place, causing more harm than good in the end.
Can you see the patterns of going against the natural flow of Life? And creating struggle in the process?
Back to Our Roots With Ayurveda
Ayurvedic wisdom and cosmology teaches there is an optimal time to do everything. This is based on the natural ebb and flow of different kinds of energies throughout the circadian, lunar and solar cycles, and also according to your unique constitution. In today's hyper-connected modern world that kind of wisdom has all but been lost, unless you are tuned in. Because guess what? That wisdom is in you. Yet we spend most of our time looking outside of ourselves for answers on everything, waiting for “the experts” to tell us how to live our lives! In this sea (ocean!) of often conflicting information, how do you know what is good for you? Tuning in is the only way. We've overdone our tuning out! And it's created great confusion and a sense of disconnect. Ayurveda reminds us to tune in and trust that what we feel is real. And to let that inform the choices we make daily.
I come from a lineage of farmers. My parents are the salt-of-the-earth. I often joke they're the most normal people I know! By that I mean stable, vital, loving. Unknowingly they've been following an Ayurvedic lifestyle all their life, because that wisdom is at work in anybody whose livelihood is dependent on the earth.
But it took me a while to appreciate the effects of Nature on my own physical and emotional health. As a kid I couldn't wait to escape the french southern countryside for the big city, and I did. Interestingly my work in New York City has brought me back to my roots. With Ayurveda I have re-discovered the balancing, sanity-inducing power of a life lived in sync with Nature. Sooner or later I believe we all come to that realization: one cannot exist, lest thrive apart from Nature.
So how do we do if we live in the city, and maybe even love it ?! We make small adjustments whenever we can. That's it. There is nothing else to attempt.
Small changes, whenever you can.
Perhaps you experiment with going to bed and waking up a half hour earlier, once or twice a week. Later you might try a light, early dinner. Expect to feel more energized and clear-minded upon awakening. Next, when winter comes around you could choose to do away with drinking ice water (and experience improved digestion.) Those are the small adjustments that pay off overtime.
Harmonizing our lifestyle with the rhythms of the Earth naturally generates a sturdier physical constitution and stable emotional state. This approach to living is essential to heal a dys-regulated nervous system, and therefore any type of anxiety. That's why ayurvedic wisdom greatly informs my coaching practice.