This is my first post on here in a while, and I can say that it has been a hell of a journey since then, nearly a year has gone by but some immense changes have occurred, which I hope to write here from the heart.
Since completing my degree in Ethnobotany, I can only say that, although it was my path, I delved straight back into security, returning to working in pharmacy. At the time it felt right, I needed stability and I was ridden with feelings of fear and insecurity – from both my career and a failed long-term relationship.
Somehow, Ayurveda came to me, and also during times of strong emotion so did mandala drawing. I must say that it changed everything for me, and for those that also find themselves drawn to Ayurveda, you will find too that it has a way of explaining a lot about yourself. I hope to cover a lot of what I experienced here in this blog, and also more experiences to come.
Ayurveda is a science of life. You can look up the definitions all over the internet and in literature, but to me, it really is a science of understanding the self, living from the heart and a way of understanding your purpose and journey in life. It incorporates the body, the mind and the soul in understanding health. Ayurveda was a beacon of light for me, I finally found something that explains what I had been thinking all along.
The principles of Ayurveda are based around the five elements; ether, air, fire, water and earth. These elements are grouped into the doshas: vata (air and ether), pitta (water and fire) and kapha (water and earth). These elements exhibit particular qualities, which give rise to the effects within the body and the mind – leading to particular personality traits as well as health outcomes.
You come into this life with what is known as your ‘prakruti’. Your prakruti is like your genetic code, and it is a unique composition of these three doshas that make up who you are. Over time, your prakruti will change due to diet, lifestyle, environment and life circumstances. Ultimately your doshas become out of balance – which leads you to being out of balance – mainly manifesting as health problems. This goes into a lot more detail, but I am keeping it short for now! In this blog entry I want to talk about the vata dosha.
So how do you know if you have a predominantly vata dosha? Vata’s are very easy to spot. I say this because I myself am one, and for everyone that knows me personally it is very obvious! So Ayurvedically vata dosha has the qualities of light, dry, rough, subtle, mobile and clear. How does this manifest in our behaviour and physiology? – vatas tend to be of skinny build, they can be bony, have dry skin, always moving, always thinking, very creative! They have difficulty staying on the ground, and as I like to call it, we can be quite ‘flighty’. This is because we have the elements of air and ether within us in larger quantities. We can’t stay put for too long! Vata people hate to feel limited or trapped. Which makes it very difficult for them to stay in one job and not constantly want to go off travelling. Being stuck in a job a vata doesn’t like is hell for them. They will be miserable!
As a pharmacist I see classic vata imbalances day in day out. They normally come in with lower back pain issues or a prescription for anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication – so I recommend some pain killers, dispense their medication. I immediately have an idea of whats going on…so I talk to them more. I ask questions about their diet and recommend particular foods and straight away their answer will be – ‘oh no I can’t eat like that I will get fat!’. Vatas have an irrational fear of gaining weight, but it is ridiculous because it’s almost impossible…it all stems from their insecurity. I try to give some reassurance and in my heart I just want to take them into the consultation room and let them pour their heart out about whats really going on. But I can’t…you simply do not have that kind of time in allopathic healthcare systems.
Vatas can be very emotional creatures, they need a lot of love, and this is because the qualities can manifest as feelings of fear, anxiety and insecurity. They are living more in their head than their bodies and so more energy is directed to this place. Meaning that less is directed to their physical needs of hunger and elimination. This means they can suppress their appetite and not eat (too busy thinking of course!) Too much unneccessary thinking leads to them behaving quite erratically. They will change their mind a lot, not be able to focus on one idea and can be flighty with relationships. Vatas will be the ones who are wanting to travel to ‘find themselves’ – what I have noticed recently is that they tend to be the ones that steer more so towards a spiritual path. They are into the yoga, into meditation, they LOVE dancing and music and have a very ethereal essence to their being.
We tend to be the one with endless energy, constantly wanting to do something all the time, our minds are a whirlwind of events, places, ideas, people, what people think, what I think, what should I be doing? Will they like that? How can I prove myself? How can I show myself? This all comes from the vata within us. It’s the air, it’s the ether. But fear not, my teacher teaches that vata people are like champagne bottles that have been shaken up. Yes, they are a vessel of energy waiting to burst, and when they do it’s loud, and it’s crazy, and its all over the place, its messy, but hey ho its champagne! Vata people are special never forget this, as are all people of course! But vata people need this re-iterated a bit more so. Feelings of insecurity, loneliness and doubt are all too familiar, and if you can recognise the triggers for this mindset then you are on the path to releasing and channeling your vata into some good.
I call my vata mind the ‘vata chatter’ and it’s there all the time, and I mean all the time. Even in my meditation the vata chatter appears…it’s there when I wake up, it’s there at work, it’s there in my relationships. My vata chatter can take over and start talking whilst I am in conversation with people. Your starting a yoga class? Wow I want to do that. Your writing a book? Wow I want to do that. Your travelling the world? Wow I want to do that. Hang on….I’ve totally not been engaging with what you’re saying and instead I am too busy thinking about how I can possibly do that too. Can they see this in me? I wonder what they now think of me? Oh god, I better make myself look less selfish. Let me go home and mill over all of these questions in bed (as well as plan how I intend to do all these new ideas)……oh its 3am? S**t.
Your vata chatter will be very familiar to you. It will come at any moment and it can be very difficult to shake off. It is like trying to catch something that is constantly moving very quickly – almost impossible. Personally I am still battling with my vata chatter, and it has gotten me into some tricky situations this past year. But, my awareness of the vata chatter is the first step to directing it to some good. If you can relate to this dosha, I would say congratulations because your beginning to understand yourself a bit more! With understanding you can learn to love your vata chatter, taking care of it like a small child and nurturing it. How can you do that?
- Eat mash potato with butter (I am not kidding – it seriously works because it is grounding!)
- Make sure you eat full stop….if you are not hungry try having a slice of fresh ginger with a touch of salt and few drops of lime 30 minutes before meal times.
- Try to minimise intake of raw foods (it increases the rough and dry quality). Stick to cooked, warm foods.
- Get to sleep around 10pm. Before bed get yourself a warm heavy drink, like spiced milk and maybe give yourself a gentle foot massage with warm sesame oil.
- Start meditation daily – but don’t do too much!! visualisation meditation works best for vatas and maybe some soft music. Vatas will struggle with silent meditation, unless you have lots of practice of course.
- Wake up early and direct all of that vata energy into your ideas – use this time in the morning to plan, to organise, make lists, to reply to emails, to message friends back. Trust me, your mind won’t feel so over whelmed during the daytime and you will be able to focus and also be in the knowing that your ideas of bigger dreams are underway too.
- Establish a daily routine – it will build your security and you will be able to look after yourself better in the process.
- Become best friends with your vata chatter. When you hear it, say to yourself – right this is my vata chatter. Welcome it and just keep that awareness. Get yourself into a safe space – on your own or with people who won’t increase it! (You will begin to notice who makes your vata chatter go crazy). Let the world go by whilst you stay in your safe space and then emerge and respond to situations once you feel it has reduced. Once you practice this you will begin to detach from your thoughts. Learn to not pay attention to them if they are negative – visualise them moving as a cloud in the sky, let it pass and then disappear.
I just want to finish of by saying again that vatas have a very special quality to them. As a vata you have the ideas, you have the inspiration, you love talking, you love people, you are the life and soul of a party! Don’t ever forget this. Dancing and moving our bodies is innate to us, so use that energy to move your body with yourself, in your home, in your room, in the shower. Put on that funky music and dance to yourself, you are so god damn special! Direct it into something amazing and let that champagne just go everywhere!! But just make sure you keep yourself grounded at the same time.
If you have any tips or experiences that can relate to this I would love to hear from you. Trust me, vatas can relate to each other a lot – never feel alone!