New beginnings inspire resolutions, a renewed promise to oneself to secure the happiness that seems to elude us day after day – perhaps it will come through losing a few pounds; quitting the caffeine addiction; allowing for (more) me-time; making time to help those less fortunate…. How come these heart-felt resolutions fail within the first few weeks of the new year? Why can’t the best and strongest of intentions withstand the whirlwind of daily life?
Today I want to give you a secret. I want to teach you a very simple yet central ayurvedic formula that will keep your New Year resolution(s) going strong through the year. In this sense, you will only need to heed this one ayurvedic principle, make it your one and only resolution, to stay on top of it all. So put your list aside and read this first.
Here it goes.
Ayurvedic science is comprised of “siddhanta”-s. A siddhanta is made up of:
A siddhanta is a saying that gives proven wisdom, and shows measurable practical results. A siddhanta is a formula that yields palpable results no matter when or where tested, it will always do what it says. In short: it’s science at its best. It holds true under any circumstance and for all. In Ayurveda, siddhanta-s are written in compact formulaic language. Many times you need an expert teacher or guide to get the meaning, otherwise you’ll miss it. I want to talk about one such siddhanta today.
This is a siddhanta from the Charak Samhita on the natural law of “more and/or less:”
sarvabhavanam: under all circumstances
karanam: the reason
hetur: etiological factor
pritak: separating, taking away
kritam: the act of separating
This siddhanta-s is known as the “samanya and vishesh siddhanta:” the formula for “more or less.” The idea is: whenever you take something away – it could be a mental habit, a physical act, a material, anything at all really – you are creating separation and decrease – pritakkritam. This is the siddhanta. So what’s the big deal? Let’s think of it in SVA terms, that is: in terms of Soma, Agni, and Marut.
See whenever you take something away, or reduce something, you are creating vacuum. In ayurvedic terms, when you create vacuum, you bring in more Marut. Marut is made of the air and space elements. In the body, an excess of marut expresses itself as vata dosha imbalance. And we know from our ayurvedic studies that Vata dosha is the king of all doshas, when it goes off, Pitta and Kapha can’t be too far away. And this is the key. If you take away a habit that is harming you, without replacing it with a good habit, if you remove an ingredient, without filling its place with another, if you cut loose a toxic relationship, without finding TLC in another, you are doomed to fail your resolution and run to restore it, much to your distress. Let’s say this in practical terms.
How to KickYour Addiction(s)!
Staying away through sheer willpower is a proven formula for failure. Let’s say you are addicted to white sugar, and you know by now that white sugar is not good for you for so many reasons: it feeds cancerous cells; it creates inflammation; it tips off your hormonal balance by creating too much estrogen; it is highly addictive to your brain chemistry and desensitizes you to enjoy healthy sweets with long term use. But you can’t quit the habit. Why?
Why do we hold on to harmful habits in the first place? On some level, they address a want, a need.
In SVA terms, we know that any sweet taste contains Soma. Soma is the key to our life, to our health to our longevity, and our mental and emotional balance. Remember: it was the nectar that the gods and demons fought over; in Greek mythology it is known as “ambrosia.” In some situations, your body calls for extra Soma, for example, whenever your are experiencing mental or emotional stress, and due to that stress Marut and Agni have gone high in your body. To feed that Marut and Agni and cool things off, your body desires more Soma – or more sweet taste. If all you have available for you is white sugar, as a source of Soma, and if you don’t eat it and go cold-turkey in quitting white sugar then you are setting yourself up for a sure downfall. Witholding from eating that chocolate bar when all your stress markers are off the charts is torture! You will end up having several extra bars… Be smart about things with SVA. Spare yourself the unnecessary torture. Do not provoke your Pitta and Vata doshas further through deprivation. Pitta and Vata which govern your body will go high, then you lose your ability to handle mental and emotional stress, and you plummet through your dark tunnel of addiction with more despondency.
Although it is a good and wise thing to stop white sugar, it is even wiser to replace the white sugar wtih a healhty source of Soma (perhaps dehydrated whole sugar-cane juice; or sweet juicy fruits; or raw honey; etc). You can’t fight addiction with addiction! You can’t take on darkness without bringing in the light. And when you bring in the light, darkness subsides on its own, as a great guru once said…
If your life is such that you have to deal with an overload of mental pressure and emotional stress on a daily basis, you can take measures to further support your body by supplying healthy regular doses of Soma. This is where the pharmacopeia of Ayurveda comes in handy. The use of plants and herbs. Rose is the queen of flowers and carries such a vast array of balancing somagenic properties. I made my SVA Rose Petal Preserve not only with dehydrated sugarcane juice, encapsulated with natural fruit pectin, but with the best organic Rosa centifolia petals. Many note how my Rose Preserve carries a slightly sweet yet sour taste, unlike most or all rose preserves. That’s because I formulated it to pacify Sadhak Pitta and Prana Vata. Use it therapeutically, not as a jam. Take a teaspoon with warm water morning and evening or during the day, to help curb your sugar craving by pacifying your Vata and Pitta doshas.
If rose is not your thing, go for another best-selling sweet SVA item: my Sesame Crunch that comes in 6 different flavors is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. The cane sugar in this treat, the Soma, is balanced by the Agni of the sesame seeds, and vice versa. While eating sugar on its own can aggravate your Kapha dosha, and eating sesame seeds can throw off your Pitta and Vata doshas through too much Agni, eating them together is pure balanced bliss! Plus you get the extra added benefits of sesame – it is high in calcium and nourishes your bone tissue.
The key is: when you take away something, give something in its stead.
Since food is the primary sub-pillar of health and happiness, and we are on the topic of food addictions, let’s take another example that SVA followers have a hard time with: onion and garlic. I always tell those who come to see me to reduce/eliminate the use of onion and garlic, if they want to have the friendly bacteria in their gut flourish and support their mental and overall health. But this is easier said than done. Not only our taste-buds, but our entire physiology gets addicted to the sharp sulphurous smell and taste of onion and garlic.
I have written extensively about this on my blog, but in a nutshell, onion and garlic contain a high content of sulfure molecules which kills the friendly bacteria. While they are considered “amrit” or life-bestowing in specific conditions, they are not meant for daily regular consumption. Only as medicinal additions to diet. The fact that the friendly bacteria cannot survive when you eat onion and garlic on a regular basis should be enough impetus for you to kick the habit. But again, it does not work that way. If your body has become chemically addicted to an item, there’s not much your mind can do about it. Here’s an alternative:
Number 1: adopt a drink of 80/20 ration of water to home-made yoghurt. Add Soma Salt to taste and a few pinches of Mom’s Masala. This is a delicious drink to help replenish your friendly bacteria of the gut. You will be able to think more clearly and stay resolute in your outlook and decision with a healthy gut – the latest discovery about friendly bacteria is they help produce neuro-transmitters that support brain functioning. The lassi, yoghurt and water drink is also famous for its known benefits for the overall digestive system.
Number 2: replace onion and garlic with cabbage and brussel sprouts! Slice/chop these very fine, fry in ghee and/or sesame oil, and add to your food. These vegetables also have sulphur molecules and will give you a similar flavor. However, if you need the heat and the “kick” out of the onion and garlic sharpness, use thin green thai chillies, and/or fresh ginger. These have countless benefits for health, with no side-effects (unless you have are prone to or already have pitta imbalance, then use with caution).
Early Bedtime for Even More Soma!
Still need more Soma? Did you know that going to bed early fully restores your depleted stocks of Soma and Ojas? Soma is the raw material for Ojas. More Soma more Ojas more health and longevity. You know you want to. Because you’ve heard the adage: “early to bed and early to rise make you healthy wealthy and wise!” So if you are addicted to going to bed late, despite your best intentions, and you have all kinds of distractions and justifications, first remember this: going to bed late has many dire consequences for your health, amongst them the most important – it burns your vital energy source, the Ojas in your body. And not just that: it disturbs your overall total metabolism. In Ayurveda it is called “agni vyapar” – metabolic transformations of agni through the body’s different organs and organ systems. This disturbance lowers the efficiency of your immune system.
But going to bed early is one of the hardest habits to cultivate in this day and age of electrical wonders. After a full day of interacting with all kinds of EMF/EMR machines and getting all stocked up on the buzz, and coming home to TV and electricity with bright jarring lights and loud music etc, even when you want to, and you lay your body down for an early night, many times you will not fall asleep, instead you will actually feel mentally and physically energized and get second wind.
The trick is to go slow. Try going to bed half an hour earlier every day or over the span of a few days. If you usually go to bed by 11:30pm, try to go to bed by 11pm instead. Don’t aim for 9pm all at once! Our bodies are very intelligent, but most of all they love habit. It is very hard to break a habit, specially the bad ones. So you have to strategize very wisely! Even as you try to slowly go to bed earlier, take measures to wind down your activities in the evening and adopt settling habits – light breathing and/or yoga; turning down the lights to send the right messages to your brain chemistry; turning off your wi-fi; earlier, lighter, but protein-rich and less spicy dinners; etc. And then you resort to SVA to do something for balancing your Prana vata and Vyana vata – they are responsible for keeping your mind alert and energized and not allowing you to fall asleep, or to suddenly wake up after falling asleep!
Ayurveda offers a wide array of calming plants and herbal synergies. I have made things easier by putting them into unique SVA formulations. My line is called Soma Nidra. The Soma Nidra formulas come in roll-on, essential oil, oral spray, and loose tea form. You can apply the Soma Nidra roll-on on the lower back and cervical spine as well as your wrists; or spray the Soma Nidra oral spray in your mouth; in major case scenarios where it is almost impossible for you to settle down into sleep earlier, you can apply Vata oil with Magnesium and Vit D on your knees, lower legs, and feet, and leave the oil on. This is a gentle Vata dosha calming massage before bedtime and it works wonders! This will pacify your Prana and Vyana subdoshas. Soma Nidra tea is if you are really really not getting sleep, and have fallen into a bad rut. Drink Soma Nidra tea ½ hour before bed. Boil 1 tsp in 4oz water for one person. steep for 5 minutes. strain and drink slowly.
In the big picture, in order to stay on top of any and all your New Year’s resolutions, don’t fight it. If you want to change something, bring in something to replace it. The new sprout naturally and innocently lets the old skin fall off even as it shoots up. To keep your core energies at their optimal, heed food and
sleep, and then you can’t make any errors in your actions. The sutra says:
Three subpillars of life support healthy happiness and longevity: food, sleep, and proper action. And in that order: first proper food (ahar) in a timely manner, and then sufficient timely sleep (7-8 hours a night), and this will support ALL your actions, actions that are worthy of powerful Brahma consciousness, rooted in peace, life-supporting and evolutionary, bringing you balance and bliss. You’d be surprised to see how – when you are well fed and well rested – your mind operates optimally and you can be the boss of your own life. Go to my blog to find recipes, tips and guidance in general.
Happy Holidays! Here’s to a fabulous 2017, filled with balance and bliss always!