Summer is almost over but the hot days are still here. Here are some tips to help you cope with the persistent heat.
Ayurveda recognizes that we are intricately connected to our environments. We are constantly absorbing and consuming information from our environments. The information is received through our five senses. The five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell) are known as the 5 gateways. They are the five entry points to the body and mind. Everything we absorb or consume subtly affect our nervous system. The high temperatures affect our nervous system and the effects are reflected in our physiology and behaviors. Inflammation in the body is considered a sign of excess heat in the physiology. Bursitis, tonsillitis, pancreatitis, and other ailments that end in “-itis” are considered signs of excess heat. Anger, frustration, impatience are considered excess heat affecting the mind. We can use the 5 gateways to reset the nervous system and calm the body and mind Here are a few suggestions:
There are some images that calm the mind and others that aggravate the mind. Think of a clear, blue sea. How does it make you feel? In contrast, consider a busy highway with cars driving by aggressively and honking. Just imagining these scenarios will subtly affect your nervous system. Could you feel the effect?
Your body responds to the real experience and the imagined experience in almost the same way. Consider this as you think about how many of us sit in front of the television and watch a true crime story or the evening news as a form of relaxation? How do you think these viewing choices affect one’s nervous system?
Bringing more mindfulness into our choices can help calm the body and mind.
We all know that music has the power to heal. When we listen to music, we are absorbing sound waves. Those sound waves cause our cells to vibrate in a particular manner. Some sounds wave can be very calming to the body. Other sounds cause our cells to vibrate in a way that make us feel excitement, aggravation or the undeniable urge to dance! Some excitement is good for us!
Here is a calming playlist I created on Spotify:
In the Ayurvedic tradition, it is understood that there are 6 different tastes and each taste has a heating or cooling affect on the body.
The tastes that help to cool the body and mind are: sweet, bitter, and astringent. The taste that heat the body are: sour, salty, and pungent (spicy). When Ayurveda recommends sweet, they are not referring to cupcakes or ice cream, but rather fruits like apples (sweet), pears, avocados and coconuts. Whole grains such as wheat berries, bulgur and basmati rice are considered sweet. Even some vegetables are considered sweet. Sweet vegetables include zucchini, peas and potatoes. Green leafy vegetables are bitter as are broccoli and celery. Astringent is more of a property than a specific taste. Pomegranates, chickpeas, unripe banana, green apples and okra are considered astringent. In the summer or times when our body is showing signs of excess heat, it is recommended that we favor foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent. These foods will help to cool the body and mind.
Multiple studies have proven that touch can accelerate healing and encourage relaxation, pain relief and general comfort. Scheduling a massage everyday may not be practical, but a quick foot massage can also be helpful. Ayurveda teaches that the energy lines of all the major organs course through our feet, so when we gently massage our feet we are calming the organs.
Some oils are cooling and others are heating. Oils that are best suited for pitta are: coconut, sunflower and olive oil. Simply massaging cooling oil onto your feet before bed can help the body relax.
Note: You may want to allow enough time for your feet to absorb the oil before climbing bed or place a pair of socks on your feet to protect your bed sheets from the oil.
Smell is the most primivitive of the senses. Aromas and scents directly affect the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus influences many bodily functions such as sleep cycles, blood sugar, body temperature and emotions. This is why aromatherapy can be so effective. Cool, soothing and sweet scents such as: sandalwood, mint, rose, lavender, jasmine, ylang ylang all pacify pitta. A simple way to utilize the power of smell is to Invest in a diffuser, and use it in your office and personal space.