monica's blog

Meditation Techniques

Meditation is an essential tool for bringing a person’s mind back into balance and should be incorporated into everyone’s health regimen. There are varying types of meditation available depending on a person’s prakruti and depending on if a person’s mind is in a state of rajas, tamas, or sattva. For example, a kapha mind should be kept busy. Conversely, a vata mind should be quieted and kept still. A pitta mind should be calmed. So an appropriate meditation technique should be chosen based on a person’s manasa prakruti and what state it is in.

Vata energy and rajas are similar because both have the qualities of irregularity and movement. Any mediation that aids in stillness will benefit vata minds and minds in the rajas state. Pranayama is an excellent exercise to balance vatas minds and rajasika states. A pranayama practice should be built up gradually, adding a round of breathing each day for about one month. Like any meditation practice, it is ideal to practice daily. Astanga yoga helps to focus the mind and is also beneficial for a vata mind or a mind in rajas. Any mediation practice that helps to ground the airy vata mind will be beneficial, sitting meditations are encouraged.

Kapha minds tend to have the opposite problem from vata minds. Kapha minds are slow and need a kick start. Meditation practices for kapha minds should keep the mind engaged. Guided visualization, contemplative questions, tai chi, or walking meditation would be a great meditative tool for kaphas, or minds that are in a tamasika state. All four methods focus the mind while tai chi, chi kung and walking meditation engage the body while keeping the mind focused.

Pitta minds often need to be calmed. Pranayama is excellent for calming a mind. Alternate nostril breathing and shitali pranayama (breathing through a curled tongue) are cooling and can calm a heated or agitated pitta mind.

A mind that is in the sattva state is a balanced mind. A daily meditation, a diet suited to your prakruti, a healthy lifestyle, balanced elimination and senses will keep a mind in balance.

Many meditations are good for balancing all states of mind and can be adapted to suit the manasa prakruti of a specific individual (for example, walking vs. sitting meditations). Mantra meditation is also an excellent example on how different mantras can bring different doshas back into balance. There are mantras that are good for pacifying pitta, and mantras that increase a person’s purity and goodness (sattva). In summary, there are various meditation techniques and adaptations to suit each individual person and their current state of mind. The best way to keep a mind in balance is to practice meditation daily and have a healthy lifestyle.

by Laurel Hricik,
Student: San Diego College of Ayurveda

Meditation Suggestions from an Ayurvedic Perspective

Meditation for your Mind
Dr. Nandini Daljit

Vata Meditation Recommendations:

The Vata mind would benefit from Transcendental meditation with 20 minute sessions that concentrate on the mindful/silent repetition of a mantra - allowing thoughts to be acknowledged and the mind to release thoughts freeing up space by focusing on the mantra thus enhancing relaxation and increased silencing. TM would be particularly beneficial for a vata mind in Sattva and Rajas.

A spiritual meditation would also be beneficial for the vata mind as it is a quiet and communicative type of meditation with God or the universe (or the higher being of choice) which is aligned with the vata strengths of reflection and communication.

As well, this time of meditation also allows the vata mind to dialogue about a personal issues or concern as a silent witness. A spiritual meditation would offer much peace and enlightenment to a vata mind in Sattva

Yoga as meditation is also a very positivie for the vata mind as it combines physical movement with mental focus allowing prana to move to flow and move througout the body and nourish the mind. In this regard, tai chi and dance could also serve as a meditative vata practice as well as the playing of music.

For visualization, Vata people would benefit from warm images and colors. Mantras such as RAM and HRIM AND SHRIM are warm and calming for vata. Yoga would benefit a vata mind in Tamas by increasing prana to combat dullness.

Pitta Meditation Recommendations:

For visualization, the pitta mind would benefit from cool images and colors. Transcendental meditation would be very beneficial for a pitta mind in order to keep the fire in pitta in check. TM would be very beneficial for a pitta mind that is Sattvic.

Movement meditation would be very appropriate for the pitta dosha type who may find sitting still more agitating than relaxing. In movement meditation the individual can focus on the movement of their breath or engage in a gentle swaying or circular movement.

This gentle movement would be very beneficial for a pitta mind in Tamas by disrupting inertia.

Pitta pacifying mantras are SHAM, SHRIM and OM. These mantras should be repeated silently. If highly agitated - pittas may even find the repetition of their mantra relaxing when they are engaged in more active physical activity. Ensuring their safety, a mindful repetition of the mantra during stationary cycling, rowing, and stairclimbing. This may be very helpful if a pitta mind is highly Rajasic.

Kapha Meditation Recommendations:

The kapha mind would benefit from meditation that includes loud chanting where the vibration of the mantra can flow through the body and mind. Beyond vocal mantra repitition Kaphas would also benefit from Kirtan meditation.

Kirtan is the chanting of mantras and hymns and in that way not only has a vocal connection to the meditation
but a spiritual connection when hymns are chosen. This vocalization is highly recommended for a kapha mind in Tamas.

Transcendental meditation, with its mantra focused meditation would serve the kapha mind in sattva very well by providing kapha with a focused time for re-energizing of the mind which would also be appropriate for a kapha mind in Rajas or Sattva.

Kapha pacifying mantras are OM, HUM and AIM. Visualization of nature based colors and images of earth, sky and sun would benefit the Kapha mind that flourishes in warmth.

Doshas and the Three Gunas in Ayurvedic Psychological Principles

By Lisa Bailer, Student: San Diego College of Ayurveda
(Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner Program)

An overview of the three gunas in Ayurvedic Psychological Principles

1. First Guna - Sattva Guna (Mode of Purity) is good, nourishing, harmonious, this is the ultimate goal of our mind. When moving out of sattva mode you can exhibit fear, anxiety and restlessness and worry- similar to vata imbalance.

2. Second Guna - Rajas (Mode of Passion or activity) is active , creative, initiates change. In the negative it is angry, aggressive, jealous, hatred.

3. Third Guna - Tamas (Mode of lethargy) is slow going, lethargic, passive. In the negative it can be destruction, selfish, attachment.

In a sense pitta dosha can be equated to Rajaguna and Kapha can be like tamagun, especially when out of balance. Pitta Imbalance may lead to emotions like anger, jealousy, being competitive and aggressive while kapha in an imbalanced state may get sentimental, greedy and attached so that is turns to destruction of whatever it is attached to.

Since vata governs all, it can display any of the above qualities of the gunas.
To balance a rajastic mind Pitta types should use mantra meditation, left nostril breathing and visualize cool and calming things. Daily affirmations of forgiveness and acceptance with compassion can decrease rajastic mind. Asanas with moon salutations and yoga nidra are calming and cooling.

Kapha types need to let go and move away from tamasic mind and move to rajistic mind so walking meditation to keep them moving and increased pranayama to stimulate opening and space in the mind. Affirmations on detachment and independence. Bhakti yoga which focuses on love and usually involves groups to keep them motivated may help.

Vata types need to calm their minds so doing mantra or visual meditation will help keep their minds focused. Asanas with slow sun salutations, Affirmations of peace, security and supported by t he universe are to help alleviate their tendency toward worry and doubt.

Meditation for Vata, Pitta and Kapha in Ayurveda

Juliana Adhikari

Student: Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner Program, San Diego College of Ayurveda

Meditation helps decrease stress, promote focus as well as help individuals be more conscious and aware of their mind and itʼs behavior.

When determining what meditation is best for an individual a practitioner should consider

i The individuals dominant dosha - Vata, Pitta and Kapha
ii The 3 gunas (Sattva, Tamas, Rajas), and,
iii Consider the theory of similar and dissimilar to help bring the mind back in balance.

A vata mind is dominated by the air quality and is all about movement so they tend to get mentally ungrounded, scattered, anxious or spacey when out of balance.

They should practice meditations that help keep them grounded, enhance stability, and help them release stress and stay focused. All meditations
help vata in some beneficial way but some in particular like TM, Zen, and Yoga Nidra are more calming and can help ease a vata mind.

Trees and mountains are solid, rooted, earthy, grounded so meditating in nature and near or around them
can have a grounding effect on vatas in tamas.

Sitting in peaceful contemplation near water can be good for both vata and pitta minds in tamas.

Water is very soothing to all the senses so sitting in deep contemplation with their feet in the water, taking in the peaceful sounds of the surroundings, the smells, and the energetics of the flowing water can instantly sooth and ease any disturbed mind.

Rajasic vatas tends to be hyperactive and nervous so a sitting meditation will not be a good choice for them.

They should instead do a walking meditation on a
beach or take a peaceful hike in a woodsy area.

When in tamas their focus should be on feeling grounded on the earth with each step they take.

Consciously sensing and feeling the ground beneath them.

If possible they should walk slowly and also pay attention to all the sounds, smells, and sights of their surroundings.

Walking meditation is also great for lazy kaphas in tamas to get them up and moving.

Since kaphas can be heavy and lethargic they can benefit more by doing stimulating pranayama techniques before any meditation.

Because of their lazy and unmotivated tendency, kaphas will do better when encouraged in group meditation or when participating in kirtana.

Mantra mediation can help an emotional kappa in rajas.

Practicing loving kindness and doing a meditation that opens their heart chakra is great for promoting sattva in Kapha individuals.

Pitta individuals would benefit greatly from meditation that stimulates and promotes peace of mind.

Japa and mantra meditation is great to mentally stimulate and sharpen the mind.

Soothing meditations in nature or by water as
mentioned above help cool and ease a pitta in tamas.

Pitta should also do pranayama techniques - while practicing meditation to help promote sensory control for a mind in rajas.

Manovaha Srotas and the Manasa in Ayurveda

By Tara Levelle
Ayurveda Health Educator Intern
San Diego College of Ayurveda

Here in the West, we consider the mind to reside in the brain, in the head. We also consider the brain’s functions to control the mind and the intellect. All seems to be one. However, this is not so in Ayurveda. The mind is said to reside in the heart, which makes sense. The heart is the center of feelings, emotions, love, and intellect.

Mind and emotions are connected, as is the intellect, but all are separate. The mind has functions of thinking, willing, and feeling. It is the intellect, the buddhi, which discerns, ascertains, and creates memory. And ‘the glue’ that holds them together is the ever-present ego.

The ego also connects the vibhu, the universal mind with the anu, the individual mind. In addition, the mind has three qualities, or gunas, that are present in a multitude of combinations. Sattva is clear, calm, and harmonious. Rajas deal with activity and movement.

Tamas creates dullness, inertia, and lethargy. All are beneficial to the mind when in a balanced state.

Manovaha srotas are the channels of consciousness that flow through the mind. Srotas are important in Ayurveda because they make up a system of channels that allow for the body to function optimally.

Mantras bring a change in perception. A nice, brisk walk in the evening with her baby in the stroller gets both Noel and child into fresh air, getting Noel up and moving. A diet of warm, grounding foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes cooked with ghee, and warm soups might help bring her vata back into balance and clear out her tamasika mind-state.

Ayurveda says that our mind stores the impressions we experience. By experiencing love, compassion, calmness, and security Noel’s baby will grow up knowing she is safe and protected. Letting go of her fears, Noel can shift her mind-state into becoming more satttvic. A healthy mental state for Noel means more focused attention on her child. Clearing manovaha srotas and bringing vata back into balance will ensure a harmonious relationship between mother and child.

What does Ayurveda teach us?

By Shyam Madas

Ayurveda teaches us that there are five dimensions of our being. These five dimensions are physical, spiritual, energetic, mental and intellectual . Just as a river flows into a sea, and clouds from the sea feed the river, each dimension of self effects the other. In this context all disease can be defined as systemic imbalance.

Ayurveda recognizes that health and self do not begin and end within the confines of what we would consider “an individual”. Our relationship with nature and the world around us is a constant exchange. Just as the five levels of humans are interwoven, so are we interwoven into the community of life. It is because of this understanding Ayurveda will take into consideration the quality of a persons relationship with nature as a part of the qualitative assessment of a persons health.

Ayurveda recognizes that our health is connected to the health of everyone and everything around us. It teaches us of three types of disease and suffering. Those which are directly related to the body and mind of self, those which are caused by other living beings and those which are outside of the first two, such as a rock falling on your head. All three of these are thought by most Ayurveda practitioners to be driven by personal karma.

Putting aside the more esoteric ideas of the deeds of past lives, we can easily see karma at work in our lives every day. Karma is action. Every action has a reaction. If we do not follow healthy lifestyles , we are likely to get get sick. Simple action and reaction. This same understanding of action and reaction can also be applied to actions related to other beings, not just actions performed upon yourself by yourself.

The Buddha said “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” When anger arises , and we then cling to it, or act upon it, one could say that this is a negative karma. If we are the type of person to cling to anger, we will always be burning with this rage and will soon develop any number of pita related diseases. If we tend to act upon our anger the action will create a pattern in our psyche , resulting in our becoming angry more and more often. This too would create imbalance , ultimately manifesting itself as disease.

When we look at the karma of anger through Ayurveda's holistic perspective, we can see other ways our health can be effected by our anger other than just it's immediate effect on our body. An example could be a employer yelling at an employee. Any number of external negative consequences could arise for the employer, but let us just assume that the employee's reaction was to be saddened by this experience and no longer as happy when he/she is at work. Modern studies have proven that through olfactory influences, and visual empathy one human can effect the autonomic, endocrine and immune function of another simply by sharing the same room. This imbalance would then become a systemic element within the office which would ultimately effect the employers health along with everyone else in the office.

This Ayurvedic perspective of karma shows us that every thought , word and deed has a reaction that will impact on our own health, and ultimately the health of the biological community as a whole.

Samkhya Philosophy and Ayurveda

Authors: Students of San Diego College of Ayurveda

Samkhya to me is the most realistic, understandable and exquisite philosophy of creation and the components of our being. From physical/material existence to the highest level of consciousness Samkyha explains it all.

Our origins and how we came into existence was always a mystery to me. From a young age I was taught that God miraculously created us. Later on I went to find out that we evolved from microscopic organisms. I, like many people out there in the world, still had many questions that couldn’t get answered. After doing a lot of soul searching and reading about metaphysics, quantum physics, yoga, and eventually Vedanta through my yoga studies I discovered Ayurveda and Samkhya. It all clicked instantaneously.

On a different note, learning about the elements of Samkhya to me is equivalent to my learning, as an artist and designer, the principles of creating art. When I was attending private art college years ago I had so much intensive training in the foundations and principles of art. No matter what form of art is created, industrial design, animation, glass blowing, painting it was required to learn these principles.

These elements of art are: movement, pattern, unity, harmony, variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, and proportion. These are the building blocks used to compose any work of art just as the elements of Samkhya are the building blocks that compose the masterpiece of the universe and our body.

Sankhya philosophy is one of the oldest and most influential of the six systems (shad darsanas) of Indian perspectives of knowledge. Sage Kapila was the founder of Sankhya philosophy. The term Sankhya literally means “enumeration”
Sankhya great achievement lay in enumerating the 25 tattvas, or cosmic categories which reflect the different states of consciousness described in Indian mystical literature.

Sankhya teaches us the discrimination knowledge between purusha and prakriti. The real self is purusha the inner witness, the unchangeable , absolute consciousness. The self is not one’s thoughts or feeling or experiences. your thought comes and go,but the inner self remains the same. Purusha is completely distinct from the matter and never interacts with it. Prakriti is a fully real material substance, and not the creation of Brahman's.

Sankhya philosophy divides the universe into 25 distinct yet related principles called tattvas. The purpose of sankhya is also that its followers attain liberation of jiva atma. In my understanding the jiva is not mentioned separately from individual soul.

The 25th element is Brahman. It is the goal of jiva to free itself of these 24 element that they are all maya in this world and recognize the brahman the 25th element as a truth liberation Moksha.

24 elements:

5 Karmendriya, 5gnanedriya, 4 Anthakaran, 5Bhuta, 5tanmantras.

The three gunas are the rope that binds both purusha and prakriti. One can cut this rope with the sword of self-knowledge and devotion.

Samkhya theory founded by Sage Kapila gives an explanation on the origin of universe and life. It offers a model of evolving consciousness from non-material to material. It regards the universe to be consisting of two realities: Purusha (consciousness) and Prakriti (un-manifested/matter). Both the “Purusha” and “Prakriti” are completely distinct. They alone cannot create anything.

Purusha is uncreated, absolute, pure and passive witness to creation whereas Prakriti is dynamic, creates, impure and which is the first principle of manifestation. It contains 3 gunas-Raja, Tama, Satva. Prakriti is the force that works like automation. All the cause and effect are already latent in it.

When the Purusha and Prakriti comes in contact with each other, the equilibrium of the 3 gunas break which results in manifestation of Mahad (Buddhi) which further manifests into Ahamkara(Ego) which activates the 3 gunas.The action of Rajas on Tamas results in, 5 tanmantras and pancha mahabhutas. These mahabhutas result in the 3 doshas of Vata,Pitta and Kapha.The action of Raja on Satva gives rise to 5 Jnyanindriyas and 5 Karmindriyas.

Student Input:

Juliana Adhikari
Paola Beth
Deepti Vats
Palak Timbatiya

Tomato Chutney

Tomato Chutney for Vata

This recipe is a tomato chutney for Vata Kapha.

However, if Vata is really out of balance, substitute mustard seeds and jalapenos with cumin seeds and warming spices.

Ingredients
Roma Tomatoes
Ginger
Jalepenos
Mustard Seeds
Garam Masala
Sugar

Ayurvedic Meal - and its components.

Ayurveda believes that if your plant based diet is local, or, hyperlocal as one of my students call it -- it is full of prana, nourishment.

If it is local and organic -- now, it is not only full of prana, life, - but, also has good karma. Karma attributed to following the cycle of nature, or the plants with pesticides or chemicals.

And, if that wasnt good enough -- if it is local, organic and grown with love and intention of 'healing' --suddenly it is not just food, it is a therapeutic healing plant based food.

Last, but, not the least is cooking with INTENTION to heal, cooking with love. Cooking as a meditation.

I am attaching a photo of an Ayurvedic Meal straight from a garden.

Coriander and Mint Chutney is perfect - very mildly spiced is perfect for a Pitta constitution.

Sweet tomato chutney made out of heirloom tomato variety, is, excellent for Vata constitution.

All vegetable are hyperlocal, organic, and, sauteed in 'ghee'. And, yes, grown with love, cooked with a healing intention.

Ayurveda is not big on raw salad, espeically for Vata. Salads and Leafy Greens are made up of the Space Element. So, are Vata Types. So, Leafy greens are sauteed or steamed slightly to remove the space element.

Hence, the leafy greens are slightly sauteed as well -- along with some basic khichdi.

Cycle of Seasons and Ayurveda

Cycle of Seasons and Ayurveda

by Shyam (Zachary Bubeck)

Within the entire observable universe, the most common reoccurring shape is the circle. This pervasive shape reflects the cyclical nature of all things. Our galaxy along with others, rotates around a common center. Our solar system rotates around the center of our galaxy. Our planet orbits around the sun , our moon orbits around the earth and our earth orbits around its axes. We can even witness this phenomenon on a microcosmic level where we can observe electrons revolving around the nucleus of atoms.

We can also derive many other cyclical abstractions through our observations such as a trees life-cycle or the food cycle etc etc.

The human being can be considered a system is embedded within a larger system. Within and without these systems there is a constant exchange of energy that moves in cycles. Ayurveda provides us with a model for understanding the direct effect that the greater cycles within this system have on us as humans. Utilizing this information we are given the opportunity to adjust our lifestyles in a way which will correct any imbalances in our microcosm caused by these external influences.

The first cycle to be considered is the earth’s rotation. During this cycle we experience changes in the amount of direct exposure we receive to various forms of light and other subatomic particles. This creates changes to the Doshic quality of the atmosphere around us and directly within us.

Although the times of these phases change through the course of the year depending on your location, the following is a general overview of the Doshic influence of different times of day:

3AM to 6AM Vata
6AM to 10AM Kapha
10AM to 3PM Pita
3PM to 6PM Vata
6PM to 10PM Kapha
10PM to 12AM Pita
12AM to 3AM Kapha

Those of us who seek balance should consider these cycles and the principal of like increasing like when making decisions on how to conduct our day to day activities. A great global example of this is that most people would be served best by having their largest meal of the day at noon when pitta is highest and feeding the Jathara Agni.

Moving out to slower cycles, we should also consider the seasons which are caused by the earths relation to the sun over the course of its annual orbit. The seasons effect on the body should be offset according to the season itself and the individuals constitution. For example, a kapha during the winter may need to eat a heating diet where a pita would be best served to maintain a balanced diet during the winter with only occasional heating foods. During the summer the pita person may need a mostly cooling diet where the kapha may be able to eat more heating foods.

In addition to the considerations of the current season we must consider the effect of seasons as they change and what they leave behind. During the winter for example, there is frequently buildup of Kapha. Pita can buildup during the winter as well because of the increased storage of internal heat as a response to the external coldness. Considering this potential buildup, the need for spring cleaning takes on new meaning as this is a great time for panchakarma or other cleansing protocols to be implemented. Seasons are different in different places, but generally the following Dosha’s are associated with the following seasons:

Summer Pita
Fall Vata
Early Winter Vata
Late Winter Kapha/Vata
Spring Kapha

In addition to these two important cycles, Ayurveda will also take into consideration more subtle influences such as the moon and other celestial bodies. The tides are managed by the moon and our bodies are made mostly of water. It then stands to reason that our bodies will be effected by the moon as well. It is a verifiable fact that more child labors start on full moons than any other day. Ayurveda also teaches us that other celestial bodies have a direct influence on our being as well.

Our environment does not only include the weather. Where we live, the people we are around, the cleanliness of our home and the wind that brought in the very air we breath will all play a role in influencing our constitution at any time. These facts all serve as wonderful reminder of the need for holistic thinking when approaching health from an Ayurvedic perspective.

To reuse this article, please inform info@ayurveda-california.org, and, give credit to the college as well as the author Zachary Bubeck, along with the hyperlink:

http://ayurvedayogatraining.com/blog/2011/10/cycle-of-seasons-and-ayurveda/

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