We lead fast-paced lifestyles where we have learned to derive our sense of self worth from our productiveness. We wait until we are very sick to admit ill health; and sometimes, the repercussions are severe. It’s hard for us to admit; a little attention to self-care and prevention could have prevented disease.
Not many Americans have daily rituals that contribute to feeling good and being healthy. Sometimes we can’t help getting rushed or distracted, but we can minimize the depleting effects with a solid self-love practice.
It may go without saying, but if you are depleted physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, you are not going to be available for loving others. You might even be the dreaded emotional vampire, taking love and not returning it.
Ayurveda is an entire system of self-care, with wisdom specific to each person’s body-mind type. The topic of where to start may be daunting, since Ayurveda is a huge body of medicine. However, there is hope, and starting the process of tuning in and taking better care of yourself is easier than you think.
When I was trying to impart some basic Ayurvedic wisdom to my husband, who is not the best at self-care, I started with the concept of ojas. Once he started to see how to focus on producing ojas—which is the essential life energy, the pure and subtle substance that’s extracted from food that has been completely digested—he began to take better care of himself. Once all of the body’s seven tissues (plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow, and reproductive tissue) are nourished and digestion is balanced, ojas increases.
Ojas is one of the three vital essences that together promote and sustain our physical vitality, mental clarity, and overall health. The three vital essences—prana, tejas, and ojas—are the positive forms of vata, pitta, and kapha doshas, respectively. Whereas an increase in the doshas has the potential to create disease, an increase in the vital essences tends to support wellness. A lot of focus is put on negating the over-accumulation of any one Dosha, but not a lot of focus lies here, in increasing the vital essences.
I like this analogy from John Douillard:
“Perhaps the best way to describe ojas is to understand how honey is made.Ten to twenty thousand bees per hive collect the nectar or essence of thousands of flowers and concentrate them into honey – the ojas of the flowers. In the same way, when we eat fresh, unprocessed foods, microscopic amounts of their essence accumulate over time through the process of healthy digestion and become ojas. If the digestive process is disturbed, the essence of the foods will not be extracted and no ojas will be made.”
Signs of Healthy Ojas:
Signs of Depleted Ojas:
In increase ojas, spend time in nature. The rhythms of nature are within us, whether we realize it or not. Earth, water, fire, air, and ether are always dancing around in our environments and the act of spending time in Nature offers our bodies the opportunity to harmonize the inner with the outer.
To continue reading about ojas, click here.
About the Author
Sarah Lou: Sarah is a regular contributor with MeetMindful. She was born in a small midwest town where being homogenous was cool. She didn’t feel like she fit in much, ever, until she struck out on her own and started defining life in her terms. Then the feeling wasn’t really that of fitting in, but more like it was okay not to. Ever since she has been sampling life like a buffet, living in new places, traveling, learning new trades and skills and loving many people. She’s been a photographer, a farmer, a non-profit organizer, a yogi, a masseuse, a pot grower, a trail builder, a river guide, a mountaineer, a skier, a SUPer, a dog trainer… Sarah has been trying to realize the nature of her own heart for her whole life, and only when she decided it was no longer up to her peers, or her parents, or even her partners—it was up to her—only then did she find it. Sounds easy, but it’s actually not for most. We have some serious baggage growing up in American culture with our public school system, parenting, religious, and government paradigms based on authority over one another. It’s hard to get permission. She started really living when she decided she didn’t need it.