In Ayurvedic medicine, the mind and body are intricately connected. For true healing and rejuvenation, it is vital to look after the channels of the mind. Meditation — the practice of giving your mind time to be in stillness and to empty out, creating headspace — is key for maintaining a strong sense of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional balance.
Whether you’re a seasoned yogi meditator or are starting to explore, meditation can be helpful. If you’ve ever been to a yoga class you most likely will have first-hand experience of the euphoric bliss and spaciousness of mind that come from taking time to sit still and expand your awareness beyond its usual borders.
“Meditation is a way of emptying the consciousness of its content.”
~ Dr.Vasant Lad
So why do we feel so good after we sit in stillness? And why is it so important to consciously create time in our day to do nothing to find headspace?
In Ayurvedic medicine, the human body and mind is considered to be made up of the five elements: earth, air, fire, water and ether. For optimal health, all five of these elements within us need to be in balance, and this balance is individual and unique for all of us.
Ether, also known as the ‘space’ element, is often overlooked when exploring the elements as it one of the most subtle of the five elements. However, it is vital for balance as it is the container in which the fire element can breath, earth can establish, water can flow and air can circulate within.
Ether is the element that allows for the other four elements to function optimally; therefore it is perhaps the most important element to take mindful care of and to cultivate within us in our modern-day lifestyles.
With increased levels of stimulation via technology, poor food choices and busy daily schedules, it has become easier than ever to fill our precious windows of time during the day with our phones, social media, the internet, listening to the radio, watching TV and other, stimulating activities, leaving little time for headspace.
Likewise, on a physical level, it has become so easy to either over-eat or not eat enough. Both of these habits have an aggravating effect on the ether element in our body and mind. Ensuring we are taking care of our ether element in mind and body is so important in this day and age.
We are living in a blessed time where we have access to so much simply with a tap or click of a finger. Due to this relatively new element in our lives that, funnily enough, uses the ether element to communicate through space, we may be losing touch with what it feels like to just be. To just stop. To just breathe. To just be still. To just do nothing.
Ayurvedic tips for finding headspace
Stop, drop and breathe
As we go about our day, our mind slowly becomes filled with our to-do’s, tasks, projects and thoughts. All this mental activity gathers momentum during the day, often leading to overwhelm, confusion and unwanted mental stress and tension. To slow this momentum and stay cool, calm and collected, practice pausing at various times throughout the day. Take a seat wherever you are and take three relaxed breaths, focusing on the exhalation. Interrupting our patterns during the day and bringing the body and breath into calm stillness can have profound effects on creating greater space in the mind and body, allowing for more skilful execution of the tasks at hand.
Simplify your life inside and out
- Food: Simplify your food combinations and cook with real whole foods rather than complex processed food products. The mind is intricately connected to our gut. By going back to basics with our food combinations and choices, we are taking a huge load off our digestive system and creating more ‘space’ for the body to do its work properly. When our digestive system is not burdened and is working well, there is more space in the mind for proper digestion of our thoughts and emotions.
- Home: It is so easy to accumulate things we don’t need, and/or to leave things out of their place, lying around in disarray. Allowing clutter to develop in our living or work environment influences our state of mind and leads to feelings of mental clutter and a lack of clarity. A great way to ensure you’re keeping your mind and home zen is to give away or sell anything that you no longer brings you joy or that you no longer need or use.
Create technology boundaries
Technology via our computers, Smartphones, laptops, iPads, televisions, radios and more, all operate in the realm of the ‘ether’, space element. Since these devises and their reach is available to us 24/7, it’s easy for us to allow our technology to dictate the course of our day and where we choose to spend our time, rather than us choosing when, where and how we utilise the technology. Being able to call, text, post, shop and read online is a wonderful thing; however, it’s important to set clear boundaries to ensure that you’re not consuming more through the ethers than your mind and body can digest and keep up with. We all need to choose what works for us when it comes to setting these boundaries but, as a simple rule, the first hour in the morning and the last one or two hours at night before we go to bed are the most potent times for our mind and body to reset, digest and rebalance. Avoiding the use of unnecessary social and media exposure at this time will allow for greater headspace during the most potent time of the day, a better quality sleep and is necessary for our nervous systems to properly wake up and wind down. A good trick is to make a point of turning your phone to airplane mode an hour before you go to bed and for the first hour after you wake up (or longer). I also recommend turning all Wi-Fi modems off while sleeping at night to ensure optimal rest and cellular rejuvenation.
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