10 Ayurvedic Tips for Summer

At the risk of stating the obvious, emotions and food go together like toast and jam. Many of us don’t handle this combination well, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you use food as a way of numbing your emotions, read on. You’ll discover food rituals to heal your body, mind, emotions, and nervous system. They also happen to be great for digestion!

Let me talk about Ayurveda for a moment. In Ayurveda, the nervous system is connected to Vata dosha. Like the wind, it’s very changeable.

While the body goes into fight or flight easily, it can also calm down quickly. That is, once you know how to do it consciously. It’s a beautiful and flexible aspect of your physical being, when know how to regulate it.

In a world of chronic stressors, it’s critical to attend to your nervous system mindfully. If you don’t, you’ll feel like a bundle of nerves all the time. I’ve met many clients who take their nervous system dysregulation as a personal failing.

It’s not! If this is your experience, it’s fairly simple to become skilled at being in the driver’s seat, as you’ll soon see.

Anyone can end up with a Vata imbalance due to things like:

  • Multitasking
  • Projecting your consciousness into the ether (with electronic devices, for example)
  • Excessive talking
  • Residue of fears and deep hurts
  • Old emotional patterns
  • Travelling
  • Meditating and other spiritual practices

Anything that takes your consciousness out of your body increases Vata. When Vata is out of balance, you can feel scattered, fearful, spaced out, or have a foggy headache.

You might forget to eat, or you might not even notice that you’re hungry. Your body doesn’t digest well without at least some physical awareness. Most of us habitually engage in mindless eating while doing something else. It’s no wonder so many people have challenges with food, digestion, and emotions!

I’ll share more on mindful eating practices below, but first, I’d like to share a story.

A few years ago, I did an artist’s residency at an ashram (a yogic spiritual center). I’d recently ended a relationship. It was clearly time to move on, but I still loved the other person very much. I was deeply grieving the loss of the time we’d shared.

The holidays were looming, and the thought of spending the break without him was too much to bear. So, I decided to go to an ashram on an artist’s retreat to lick my wounds and write a new piece of music.

I secretly hoped there wouldn’t be much celebrating, that I could just make the holidays un-happen. Since the residents eat meals in silence, I was optimistic that I’d be able to keep to myself.

It didn’t exactly work out that way. I discovered the ashram celebrated ALL the holidays during the two weeks I was there. It turned out to be a rich, nourishing time with like-minded new friends.

My recovery was helped by the full-time chef and kitchen staff, and food that was grown on the ashram grounds. The meals were absolutely swoon-worthy!

I learned a lot about how to eat well from that experience, and the growth continues to unfold. I love sharing this heartfelt knowledge with anyone who’ll listen!

10 Healing Food Rituals 

  1. Regulate your media consumption. According to Ayurveda, ANY type of sensory input is considered to be food. When you “overeat” with your senses, you end up overwhelmed. You’re unable to process, or “digest” that content. This includes too much socializing. These are ways we avoid feeling our emotions and bottle them up instead.
  2. Eat the right amount of food. Many gut issues are caused by overeating. If you’re eating in front of screens on a regular basis, you’re certainly missing your body’s satiety cues.
  3. Nourish all your senses, not only the sense of taste, with high-quality input. Otherwise you’re bound to mindlessly or overeat, from boredom, if for no other reason.
  4. Eat whole foods you enjoy, working up to as many as 7-10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. According to Ayurveda, we want wholesome foods and experiences when we’re in balance. When we’re out of balance, we crave foods and experiences that make us more out of balance. Eating whole foods, limiting sugars and simple carbs will relieve cravings, quickly.
  5. Eat at approximately the same time every day. Structure is grounding and helps counteract Vata. It frees up energy for creative and spiritual pursuits. Which is healing! Conversely, the eat-when-hungry-sleep-when-tired way of being always leads to further imbalance.
  6. Eat three square meals each day, or work toward it. (Frequent snacks are one of several ways invite blood sugar if you don’t already suffer from it). In Ayurvedic thought, it’s best to allow the stomach to empty out each time before putting more food into it.
  7.  Drink 8-16 oz of boiled water about 30 minutes before eating. This    hydrates your gut lining and makes it safe to produce enough acid to digest your food. Water also tells your brain that your body is safe.
  8. Take three deep, diaphragmatic breaths before you sit down to eat. This moves your nervous system away from fight or flight and toward Rest & Digest. Doing this often entrains your system to relax more and more quickly over time.
  9. Practice gratitude with food. Before you eat, take a moment to thank all the hands that played a role in bringing this delicious meal to your table. Holding your hands over your plate as you do this calibrates the food to your body.
  10. Never eat when you’re upset, stressed, rushed or multitasking. Instead, take a moment to regulate your nervous system first. Rather than ‘eating your emotions,’ take a few moments to feel whatever is irritating you. Breathe through it, through an open mouth, as it invites whatever you don’t need to leave. You’ll know the content has run its course when you start yawning; then you might feel a little chilly. I know this is challenging. And it works!

Would you like more practices to help move that emotional content? Gutsy Yoga is a great way to incorporate some ‘Yoga bites’ into your day.

After returning home from the ashram, I made a point of preparing nourishing foods. I also ate by candlelight each night. One day around that time, I experienced a feeling of sadness that felt like it could lead into a long depression.

Normally, I might have reached for a carbohydrate-rich snack, but this time, I didn’t. Instead, I felt the feelings. I sat with my attention on my heart center, witnessing the sensations as if I were watching clouds in the sky. Within about 30 minutes, I felt the most heartfelt bliss I’ve ever experienced.

This practice of separating food and emotions gifted me much needed bandwidth. I ultimately recorded an album, including the music I wrote at the ashram.

At first, separating food and emotions is likely to feel difficult. Everything you’ve been suppressing will show up, so go easy on yourself. In the long run, these little practices will make your life surprisingly rich. Your healing will get profoundly easier.

If you find this process difficult to bear, please feel invited to reach out via my website. The Gutsy Type Method is custom designed for you to get rapid, comprehensive results in your gut and life.

Connect with Holly on The Wellness Universe.

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