5 Tips for Finding Balance in our Modern World

by Kristen Timchak, herbalist and Ayurvedic practitioner

In this last part of this series on Vata we will look at some ways to find balance for this dosha.. In Ayurvedic thought, when there is an imbalance we look at the qualities that are present and try to come back into balance by doing things that have opposite qualities. The qualities of Vata are: light, cold, dry, rough, mobile, subtle and clear. So going back to the examples given in the second article, let’s look at some things we can do to stay in balance in this modern world.

Vata-Imbalance

  1. Overuse of technology: The qualities present here are mobile, subtle, and light. In an ideal world, we would find balance by using our phones, computers and TVs less. But it seems that they are becoming more present in our lives. In thinking about Vata dosha it can be helpful to have some boundaries around using these devices.One thing is to not use your phone or computer first thing in the morning and right before bed. Let those be times where you create other rituals to begin and end the day. These are transition times between waking and sleep states and are sensitive times for Vata.

    Being on our phones and computers can become habitual and something we do to fill space. Instead of looking at my phone when I am waiting for something (bus, train, plane, waiting in line, etc) I try to notice my surroundings and people watch.

People-Watch-Observe

  1. Stimulants: These substances have light, mobile, subtle and drying qualities. Once again, these substances have become a part of our everyday world. Many people can't get through their day without coffee or chocolate or caffeine of some sort. Many of these substances also have beneficial qualities when used in moderation, but in excess can be drying to the body and taxing to the nervous system.

    One way to work with this is cutting down on caffeinated beverages and increasing tonic, adaptogenic herbs. These herbs (examples are ashwagandha, eleuthero, reishi, and gynostemma) give the body sustainable energy while nourishing the nervous system. Even a cup of hot ginger tea first thing in the morning can help to stimulate the mind and digestion giving a morning boost.

    If you have to have your coffee, you can counteract some of the dry and light qualities by adding a little cardamom and blending some butter or coconut oil into it.

Adaptogen-Herbs

  1. Too much dry or raw food: It is an assumption in our culture that foods like raw salads are always a healthier option. In Ayurvedic thought these foods are great when it is hot out or for a constitution that has more heat and heaviness. But for someone whose digestive fire is weak or has a lot of Vata in their constitution raw, cold and dry foods can aggravate those symptoms. The same is true for eating these foods when it is cold or wet out. I generally eat more salad and raw food in the heat of summer when these foods grow in season. In the winter I steam or sauté my vegetables. When I eat dry, light foods like popcorn I add butter, coconut oil or ghee to make it more heavy and oily.
  1. Travel: Traveling by motorized vehicles can increase the mobile quality of Vata. Many of us travel by car, bus or train everyday. Our bodies have become accustomed to this type of travel, but it is something to be mindful of when working with overstimulated Vata. Airplane travel is one of the most Vata deranging activities.

    When we travel by airplane we are increasing the mobile, cold, light, dry and subtle qualities of Vata to an extreme. When I travel by plane I like to give myself a warm, full body oil massage before and after travel. If I can't do my full body, rubbing some warm oil on the soles of my feet and putting on socks that I don't mind getting a little oily can be helpful.

    I usually bring my own food and try to bring food that is oily, mushy and nourishing. I bring an empty thermos and fill it up with hot water to sip when I get through the security gates. I sometimes bring grounding essential oils like vetiver and sandalwood with me when I travel.

  1. Rushing, being too busy: The world we live in seems to get busier and busier. There is such an emphasis on doing more and filling all of the spaces of our lives. This definitely ties in with technology, we now spend our “down time” filled with movies, Facebook, surfing the internet, etc. Creating space in our lives for true relaxation and nourishment is just about making that a priority.

    If you have time to watch videos about cute kittens on YouTube you could probably also find time to meditate or go for a walk. When Vata is out of balance, one of the best ways to calm the variable quality is to create routine and schedule. Waking and sleeping at similar times and eating meals consistently can give Vata a container to relax into to.

    One of the best ways to calm this mobile quality is to take real down time. This is so important for our nervous system and is more than just pampering ourselves. Spending time in nature, watching a sunrise or sunset, meditating, napping, gentle yoga, journaling or doing something creative can all help to ground the Vata dosha.

Nature-Balance-Vata

It is not realistic to avoid all of the things that can aggravate Vata dosha in our modern world. But we can become aware and tune into our nervous systems and notice when our lives are getting too hectic. We can use the lens of Ayurveda to find ways to find more balance and grounding in our busy lives.


Kristen TimchakHerbalist Kristen Timchak works at HAALo on Mondays. HAALo carries her Blossoming Heart elixirs, designed to soothe and support the nervous system. You can schedule Ayurvedic body treatments directly with Kristen.

 

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