by now it is clear that stress will corrodes our ability to maintain a healthy body and mind. those are well documented considerations at this point. we drive ourselves over the top in our career, sometimes in our relationships, either personal or professional and may end up living in a constant state of stress. i include myself here. the last 5 years have been challenging in so many ways it got more and more difficult to maintain balance.
ayurveda’s approach to the heart is that it is our source of vitality. propelled by the nervous system and influences the rhythms of the range of systems of the body and mind. the heart circulate prana, what is referred to as energy, both energy we take in and energy we expel, and works synchronistically with the breath, therefore.
the heart is governed by the following 3 sub doshas:
- sadhaka pitta: the fire which determines truth. located in the heart and brain, by which we achieve our goals.
- avalambaka kapha: the form of water that provides support and is located at the heart and lunge and lubricates the chest. in turn it connects to rasa which is distributed by the heart and lunges.
- vyana vayu (vata): the pervasive air located at the heart and governs circulation.
a healthy heart means a balance of diet, emotions and mind. stress is a major contributor to imbalances of the heart which leads to cardiovascular disease. the number one killer of men in the continental US.
stress propagates through the body and overwhelms the body with cortisol. in term our heart rate elevates and so does our blood pressure which in turn account for accumulation of fat tissue in the blood transportation system.
ayurveda teaches us that most of heart related diseases stem from an emotional factor: anger, fear or repressed emotions. it is how we respond to stress which affects our bodies the most. effects of hostility and anger will affect our being dramatically. what tools and approaches are available to us to deal and address stress as it manifests in our body and mind?
as with yoga we focus on cultivating and familiarizing (what is named bhavana in sanskrit) awareness and be in the moment so we can pause this cycle rather than automatically responding to a feeling. the gita talks about this and if you read the aditya hridayam it talks about the inner enemies for us to conquer. we learn to relax our mind and therefore our nervous system to increase our inner power.
four approaches to consider:
- dharama: if you consult with an ayurvedic MD one of the questions you will be asked is “are you engaged in the work you most want to do?”. in other words what is your dharama and are you walking the right path? because if you are not, any “fix” will be temporary and superficial. at root we find fulfillment in being in service for other people and creatively expressing ourselves. though this path (marga in sanskrit) may be a longer ranging one, it is vital start asking this question in order to find the path and long term healing.
- pranayama: take the time to stop and withdraw your senses and connect with your inner self by simply breathing fully. find peace in that given moment, letting go. notice how your breath changes when you are stressed and notice, make that impression, of your breath when you are relaxed. go back to that moment to relax your body and mind. bring yourself actively to balance by changing your breathing practice.
- tapas: generate heat by taking a yoga class which is designed to break a sweat. other forms of sweating are wonderful as well if you yoga is not your thing. from a steam to running, playing soccer – whatever works for you. cleansing your body through the sweat glans will balance your mind and nervous system and affect your overall happiness.
- eat a fine meal: based on your constitution, location and season, treat yourself to a healthy meal and nourish your body.