I started my own process by defining the values I hold dear, finding time for myself and following new routines that would nourish me inside and out. Today, making myself a cup of tea each morning has become a small part of a morning ritual I truly love.
It’s common place these days to feel perpetually busy and to lack any real balance or rhythm in life. There is no supportive routine to our days and, from the moment our alarm screams till we go to bed too late, the simplest thing is often to just to lurch from one activity to the next. Our attention is wrested away by the almost inescapable flow of information and alerts coming from phones, social media, radio and TV. Many of us no longer follow religious traditions and yet no spiritually nurturing practices have replaced them. And we have been brought up to always give everything we’ve got. It was not surprising that for so long my mind, body and self felt imbalanced and I thought things were unchangeable.
… it was not a lack of desire or drive that was holding me back but a lack of structure, clear processes and my inability to prioritise myself …
The ancient science of mind-body
The ancient life science of Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of India and is often called the ‘sister science’ of yoga. Its practices date back some 5,000 years and records of Ayurvedic hospitals and colleges date back over 3,000 years. It is one of the oldest approaches to health and wellbeing, and its principles are based on thousands of years of experimentation, application, observation and refinement.
While Western medicine tends to view the human body as little more or less than a clever machine — which sometimes breaks down and must be repaired — Ayurveda is more holistic. Under its practice, one’s physical, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing must be treated simultaneously, and all these aspects of your being must be integrated, balanced and nurtured in order to be truly well. This harmony, inside and out, creates true wellness.
Ayurveda’s approach is highly individualised. It considers your inherent constitution, the place you live, the season, life events and stage of life in developing an approach to nutrition, exercise and other wellness practices that will lead to optimal health.
Routines & rituals: the pathway towards harmony
When we engage with thoughtful and nourishing daily, weekly and seasonal routines, Ayurveda reveals we begin to move with the flow of nature and our body’s innate intelligence. And by being mindful of what we feed our mind and body, we can slowly refine every aspect of our being.
It is the simple processes outlined by the Ayurvedic principles — a daily routine, regular, simple meals, exercise for the physical and subtle bodies — that allow us to achieve a more harmonious way of being. By adopting these practices we automatically begin to live a life that is aligned with our higher purpose. We are able to pursue our own version of right living without being distracted by the impulses and cravings of our senses and habits. As we add more positive elements to our lives there is less room for that which leads us away from our real aspirations and goals.
This harmony, inside and out, creates true wellness.
My first steps towards mind-body harmony
Before I found my pathway towards a more harmonius place, I spent twenty years lurching from one diet or new ‘lifestyle’ to the next. With each one I would feel like I had found the secret to a better body or a calmer mind, but throughout my mind and body remained apart. When I practiced yoga I realised it was something I did rather than was and that it never felt truly integrated into my life. I intuitively knew that meditation and mindfulness made sense, yet for some reason I rarely found the time.
I had my lightbulb moment when I realised that it was not a lack of desire nor drive that was holding me back but a lack of structure, a set of clear processes and my inability to prioritise myself. My new knowledge provided me with the framework through which I could begin to live these practices every day. Today, I feel the healthiest I ever have. My mind and body are connected and attuned to one antoher. In short, I feel like I have found an easy path to follow that supports my holistic good health.
Here are a few examples of the habits and routines that have become important to me:
- My morning self-care practice. One of the keys to maintaining a sense of balance and rhythm in my life has been the adoption of my own simple morning routine. Each day I rise at the same time before the kids wake up, make myself a cup of tea and spend around 30 minutes in meditation, yoga and contemplation of the world.
- Deeper nourishment. Ayurvedic nutritional guidelines are highly personalised, but also have universal principles that are so simple to apply. By choosing to eat three simple, nourishing meals each day, at regular times, I have observed significant improvements to my digestion, my energy levels throughout the day and my body’s natural ability to regulate weight.
- A meeting with my mind. For most people, including me, a daily meditation practice does not come easy. I am distractible and more comfortable doing rather than sitting. But the longer and more regularly I spend observing the flow of thoughts, emotions and feelings that arise and fall away, the more capacity I have to create some distance between the triggers and my old habitual behaviours. And I am better able to respond calmly and thoughtfully to demanding situations as they arise rather than react in unhelpful ways.
Starting my day with time for my own practices benefits not just me, but all those that I spend my days with. Each morning when those sleepy little bodies appear from behind their bedroom doors, I am more than ready for whatever the day may bring.