Updated: Sep 26, 2019
Let's talk about habits. They are developed by everyone, used daily and play a much larger role in our health and well being than what you might initially think. Habits structure almost everything in our day - our food choices, topics we talk about, people we interact with, ideas we cultivate and actions we initiate. More often than not, many things that you did yesterday, including your thoughts, are happening again today.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, habits can be a help or a hindrance. In fact, it is a reoccurring topic of discussion with our clients in almost every consultation. Morning and night routine, regular sleeping patterns, correct food preparation and consumption are all what we deem to be positive and important daily habits for ongoing optimum health and well being. However, it is the many small habits elsewhere, sneakily built up over time, that are extremely destructive for our health. Not only that, but done enough over a long period of time, can lead to the manifestation of disease. Habits for everyone varies in both nature and significance, but almost all link to three key categories.
1. THE FOOD YOU EAT
Ayurveda has always stressed the importance of food - not only what we eat, but how we prepare it and who we eat it with. Combined, these factors create significant shifts in our health and well being. Furthermore, for most of us, this category is often the one that harbours an array of poor habits. For example, eating the same foods day in and day out (even if out of season), eating foods that are processed, packaged and canned as a staple, microwaving or getting take out instead of self preparation and eating either in a hurry, on the move or mindlessly in front of a screen of some sort. In short, the above mentioned habits are a nightmare for the gut. A simple reflection and slight alternation on some of these habits can make such a difference to our digestive health. So many gut related and also other systemic diseases can be managed and even eliminated by changing our dietary habits - you really are what you eat and what you digest.
There are three key things that will single handedly shift your dietary habits for the better - no matter what your constitution. The first, eat seasonally. Consuming produce that is currently in abundance and from local sources will have high levels of Prana (life force) and less travel and storage resources have gone into keeping it fresh. Secondly, cook using a cook top and oven. Microwaves literally change the chemical structure of your food, killing any substance and value it has for your body. Third and final, fresh is always best. Try as much as possible to cook and eat your food on the day using the most "alive" food you can. Left overs from three days ago have nutritionally and energetically diminished, and over time, build disharmony and toxins.
2. THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
This is a big one. We as human beings or any sentient being really, are connected to and shifted by our local and global environment. Therefore, it is entirely logical that what we surround ourselves with ultimately shapes our health. When we speak of company, we are not just reflecting on the people we hang out with, but all things that we immerse and engage ourselves in. This includes the music we listen to, what we watch on TV, the things we read and of course, the people or relationships in our lives. A simple point of reflection for this one is: when I watch this show or when I speak to this person how does it leave me feeling? Rejuvenated, inspired, comforted or drained, agitated and negative? It goes without saying really, one habit boosts your health, even down to an immunity level, and one depletes.
Surround yourself with what you find to be beautiful, inspiring, comforting and strengthening. That can be any thing from the decor of your house, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, even your work space. Often we mindlessly participate in our environment without necessarily reflecting upon the impact for our mind and body. A simple reflection may be what it takes to make a few changes for the better - more colour, less clutter or more natural light can all play its part in your body and minds' ability to flourish.
3. THE THOUGHTS YOU ENTERTAIN
As Gandhi so beautifully said, our beliefs and thoughts manifest to our words and actions, which then becomes our destiny. Ultimately, it is up to you which beliefs and thoughts you will choose to entertain and allow to define your course of action. Make no mistake, this is a tricky one to navigate. This is by no means dismissing or lessening the significance of mental health conditions and this is a different topic entirely. What we are posing here is the idea that for many, you can actually choose the thoughts you will allow to manifest into your reality. For example to take a classic Australian movie, The Castle. The main character Darryl chose to see his life, his home, his family, his reality as nothing but a blessing. To him, his small house only metres away from a bustling airport in a pretty run down suburb was his castle and no one could tell him otherwise. For some others, this life set up would be tragic, depressing and meaningless. This is a fictional example, but we all know people in our lives that cultivate gratitude, compassion and joy and others that as Albert Einstein once said, "find a problem to every solution". Ayurveda is a holistic science and philosophy that argues that without question, our mind is linked to the outcome of our physical health. It is not just whether you are a happy, bubbly, joyous ray of sunshine, it is about whether you lead a life of virtuous purpose and meaning and spread that like a ripple effect to those around you in a positive way.
Start yoga and mediation, daily. Before we can purposefully select which thought to act upon, we must first quieten the mind and even become aware of our thoughts in the first place. There is a reason that yoga and meditation practices are becoming so popular worldwide - because it works. Ayurveda is the science of alignment between the mind, the body and the spirit. Yoga and meditation are simply the tools to facilitate that. Once we become aware of the mind and align it with our bodies, we start initiating far more present, meaningful and positive interactions.
Often habits are something we slip into without even realising it. Usually, they are easier to alter than we first think and if you are needing further information or guidance, never hesitate to contact us. Building, breaking or building upon habits are what we do well. Firstly however, remember to always be kind to yourself and simply being aware of your habits is a great start to shifting them.
With light and love,