Daily Living with Radiance
August 06, 2013 at 8:05 PM
Our world, our schedules, and our responsibilities put an ongoing amount of stress onto us. We feel it on our skin as we battle dryness, oiliness, breakouts or rashes. We see it in our digestion when we are forced to intervene in various ways to achieve balance and relief – be it heartburn, constipation, loose bowels, excess gas…the list goes on. We notice it in our sleep, which may be hard to achieve. And it shows in our frame of mind when we feel lack luster, unmotivated, despair, and a host of other emotions that can feel impossible to emerge out of.
How can we treat ourselves daily in a way that helps us to attain an amount of radiance and vitality in our day to day?
The answer lies in the small and doable routines that happen on a daily basis. We can do a major cleanse once a year, in which we follow all the rules and abide by each detail for 7 days. It will NOT have lasting effects if we do not practice nourishing routines throughout the rest of the year. It is what we do each day that counts, not what we do once in a while.
Ayurveda adheres to the practice of dinacharya, which is a daily routine cleansing of the senses. These practices serve to clear out excess dosha, or toxins that are built up as we maneuver through life.
Sight – a simple drop of pure rosewater (I like the Heritage brand) in each eye is cooling, nourishing and feels really nice. Heat, or excess pitta can accumulate in the eyes, and simple medicine such as rosewater or a drop of melted ghee help to balance the stress put on our eyes from too much screen time or reading.
Hearing – Oil is unparalleled in Ayurveda for its availability to the body’s tissues, and its ability to provide the lubrication needed for wastes to be removed from the body. It can be used internally or externally. Sesame oil is a neutral oil that can be used for all body types. A few drops of sesame oil in the ears each day followed by a mini massage of the outer ear and neck will help to keep ears healthy and drainage functioning. Vata, or excess dryness, and cold can accumulate in our ears putting us at risk for colds and upper respiratory imbalances.
Taste – The functioning of the tongue is the first stage of digestion. When we intake food, the taste buds on our tongue send messages to our digestive organs that they need to get fired up. Our food is initially chewed up in order to prepare it for the acids in the stomach. Obviously, food that is well chewed will be easier to digest than food that is eaten too quickly. Ayurveda recommends scraping the tongue each morning before eating and brushing. A tongue scraper made of copper is ideal, which induces the desired effect of stimulating the transmission of information to the digestive organs. A plastic tongue scraper will not do this. Stainless steel is second best. This allows our digestive capabilities to wake up a bit before they have to get into action. It also removes the white and thicker coating that accumulates on the tongue. This is a sign of AMA, or undigested material in the body. Other signs of ama can be sluggishness, difficulty digesting food, or mucous in the stool. Removing the ama from the tongue each day is an important step in maintaining as clean of a system as we can.
Smell – A neti pot is used to flush the nasal passages, removing unwanted bacteria, and clearing excess or dried mucous. A simple solution of warm water with 1/8th tsp. salt can be used. This routine does not have to be done daily, but is especially effective when done every couple days during cold season. It is very important to follow the neti pot with a drop of oil in each nostril. It can be a simple drop of sesame oil, or an oil blend specifically for the nose: nasya oil. Inhale each drop deeply until you feel it enter the back of your throat. Massage gently on the outside of your nose.
Touch – Our skin is a living organ, and one that will digest whatever substances are put on it. This should make us think twice when using beauty products, sun screens and bug sprays. Could you eat what you put on your skin? The answer should be yes. A daily self massage with oil (sesame, coconut, almond or an herbal infused oil specific for a certain constitution or imbalance) provides numerous benefits to our health. The manipulation of our muscles and tissues helps with circulation and proper functioning. The repetitive motions of an Abhyanga, or Ayurvedic self massage is calming and balancing to our nervous system. The pure oils used are digested by the skin to nourish the tissues inside our body and provide a lubricated path for built up toxins to find their way easily out of the body via the GI tract.
The topic of living a life day to day and infusing radiance in as many ways as possible is one that could go on and on. As I get older, I see the effects of living. As I raise two small children, I see exhaustion take its toll. As I try and keep up with a balance of self and family, I see the challenge in doing what is helpful versus actions that are depleting. I ultimately see it as an ongoing process. I am certainly learning as I go, and gently forgiving myself when my radiance projects gets thwarted for a bit.
There is more to say on this topic. I anticipate more to come.
Until then…oil on.
Christine is an ....