The Planet is Tridoshically Provoked (Self-Care Tips for Detoxing from Big-City Life) by David McConaghay
The original intent of this article was to provide seasonal self-care advice from an Ayurvedic perspective. As I sit down to write, however, I am struck with the awareness that “seasons” as we’ve known them no longer exist.
I currently live in Colorado, where more than once this autumn we’ve had two inches of snowfall followed by 80 sunny degrees the next day. California, after years of “ridiculously resilient” drought, flipped into El Niño-induced flooding and now devastating fires.
As a practitioner of Ayurveda, I am trained to adjust treatment protocols in accordance with the climate in which my patients live. This is becoming an ever more tricky task as otherwise reliable weather patterns disintegrate into apparent randomness.
Observing through an Ayurvedic lens, it is simple enough to diagnose Gaia (the living being also known as Earth, of whom humans are a part the same way there are billions of living bacterium in our bellies that perform vital duties, or sometimes don’t) with a trīdoshaja condition. Which is to say, all three doshas — vata, pitta and kapha — are malfunctioning.
The three doshas describe how the five great elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth) take form and act out the play of creation.
Vata (ether, air) is the principle of movement, activity and variability. It is associated with fear and anxiety, electrical energy and rajas guna.
Pitta (fire, and a bit of water when healthy) represents the transformative power of heat, the “fire in the belly” that feeds the ambitious visions of great leaders and tyrants alike. It is associated with radiant energy, eyesight and anger.
Kapha (water, earth) is the principle of structure, stability and form. It is associated with tamas guna and can be reassuringly reliable and/or infuriatingly stubborn. Kapha governs mechanical energy and relates to conditions like obesity and diabetes.
The frantic pace at which modern live moves is universally vata-provoking. The endless stream of information available and intruding on us through TV, radio and the internet is enough to scramble even the most vast of minds.
This flood of information arrives in our awareness mostly via screens, which have become pervasive. As electric points of encoded light enter the eyes, vata enflames pitta the way a gust of wind sparks a forest fire. Vata pushing pitta can result in frustrated rage or exaggerated inspiration; it can also manifest as skin rashes and sharp headaches.
Fires fed by swirling wind burn hot and fast, quickly consuming all available fuel. Pitta burnout leads to kapha hibernation. Overwhelmed, afraid and angry, kapha survival strategies involve sleep, overeating and all forms of numbing the senses.
Of course, the sense organs themselves are inherently neutral, and the world we experience is the result of our collective choices. As integral actors influencing the relative health or disease of our planet, we must apply intelligent means to resolve the myriad maladies we’ve until now let fester.
“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”
— attributed to Mahatma Gandhi
“The only way to change society is like changing a cotton cloth to a silk one — by changing each thread one by one.”
— Swami Vishnudevananda
When considering the vast scope of the problem, it is easy to feel insignificant and slip into despondency. Indeed, certain of the issues we as a species face are beyond the influence of single individuals and require mass movements of coordinated action to overcome.
We are already participating in “mass movements of coordinated action” on a daily basis, but mostly without conscious awareness. Without conscious application of our best intelligence, human beings become like cancer cells in Gaia’s body, rather than the vital organs we are meant to be.
So what can you do? These suggestions can apply to anyone anywhere anytime who is feeling any of the symptoms described above.
For a week-long self-care and detox from big-city life, join us for FREEDOM TO FLOW on June 20-27, 2018, our 5th Nature, Culture & Yoga Adventure Retreat in Costa Rica! Find details here.
David Telfer McConaghay is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Vedic Astrologer based in Boulder, Colorado. He expects to graduate from Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula as a Doctor of Ayurveda in May 2018. His work and play is collected at VedaDave.com.
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