“We often believe we have to live and work at high-intensity or in a frantic state of mind. This is ‘prey mentality’…Instead of acting like you’re going to be eaten, slow down. The peace of mind and relief you’re seeking is in the present moment — not at the end of a to-do list or arbitrary finish line. If you really care about your quality of life, slow down. Then slow down some more.” ~~ Tripp Lanier in the Jul/Aug 2015 issue of Experience Life magazine

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(Photo Courtesy of The Wellness Mantra)

Happy October, everyone! I can’t believe how fast this year has gone by so far, can you? It’s officially starting to feel like fall here in South Carolina…FINALLY! This is my favorite time of year, hands down!

In Ayurveda, autumn is the season of Vata, in which the predominant elements are air and space. This season is distinguished by excess movement, dryness, lightness and cold (air and space). If you have too much vata, this can manifest itself in your body by causing such symptoms as restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, constipation and dry skin. It can make you feel pretty scattered and unstable.

As I look over what I, personally, have been experiencing these last few weeks, I can attest to the fact that I definitely am feeling the effects of vata. I am predominantly vata, so when fall hits, I experience many of the things listed above. I’ve been more restless, and have experienced many instances of anxiety. My skin is also paying the price, feeling tight and dry most days.

Thankfully, I know what to do. When this season hits — this time when there is more air and space swirling around, causing excessive movement and potential chaos — I turn to the tried and true recommendations of ayurveda.

When we experience the excess vata symptoms I mentioned above, the best thing you can do is to SLOW DOWN. Try your best to follow a regular routine in your life, making sure you schedule in “self-care” time. This means making sure you get plenty of downtime, adequate sleep, and healthy meals.

In terms of exercise, if you have excess vata, then you may need to switch up what you’re doing. Going all out at a high intensity will only make things worse for you. Switch things up by going for walks in nature (this is my favorite thing to do at this time of year, especially since the colors are so pretty). Or maybe something like gardening or canoeing are more your style. The point is to be in a quieter environment and to move more mindfully when vata is in excess. If you are into yoga, like me, then this may mean slowing down your yoga practice as well…your practice should move at a more slow and steady pace, with a focus on grounding, so that your energy can be restored. This is also a great time to incorporate more breath work and meditation.

Some other things I do at this time of year to help manage the ill effects of too much vata are as follows;

  • In the mornings, I use sesame oil on my skin. It’s got a naturally warming and moisturizing quality to it which make my skin feel much more supple.
  • I drink more hot teas with honey during this season. My favorites are the spicier varieties, like ginger, because they warm me up.
  • Crock pot meals are a staple in our house during this season. It’s super easy to throw everything into the pot and go, and then voila! It’s ready several hours later with very little effort from me. I focus on spicier crock pot meals, like chilis or curries, as the spices are great when vata is in excess.

As always, though, there is room for improvement for me. My biggest issue is making my eating environment more relaxed. I usually eat at my desk while working, and I’m usually in a rush. When I eat this way, I don’t feel very good afterwards…I eat too much and too fast, so it affects my digestion in a negative way. It is a great idea, as much as possible, to eat in a quiet space where you’re focusing on nothing but the food you are eating.

Recently, I took a Happiness class at my company. One of the things we did was to practice mindfulness by using our five senses. My favorite part was when we focused on eating mindfully. We got to choose between a slice of apple or a strawberry…I chose the strawberry. We had to take the first bite the way we normally would and note down anything we noticed about it. The second time, we were told to chew for 30 seconds and then make a note of that. Wow! It was amazing how I picked up on the way the seeds of the strawberry felt in my mouth, how juicy that strawberry was, the fuzziness on the outside of the strawberry, the tartness of it, and how refreshing it tasted. The first bite…all I could note down was that “it tasted good.” Sad, isn’t it?

So, if you are experiencing any of the signs of excess vata, I challenge you to take some steps during this season to slow down. See what you see. Feel what you feel. Taste what you taste. Hear what you hear. Smell what you smell.

Do this in all aspects of your life. For example, what do you notice when you slow down the way you exercise and really focus on what you’re doing? For me, when I do this, I feel each and every muscle doing its thing, and I am also able to better notice when I am pushing too far. What things do you notice when you eat mindfully and when you address the other needs of your body? What happens when you enjoy the silence?

Happiness abounds when we can do these things. I love the last part of the quote by Tripp Lanier above: If you really care about your quality of life, slow down. Then slow down some more.

Namaste,

Melanie

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