Especially during this end of Vata season, building and supporting Ojas is key to vivacious living, joy and immunity. Of the 3 vital essences; prana, the breath and vital life force, tejas, the subtle radiance of fire to metabolize, transform and illuminate on all levels and the most important, ojas which is our bodies vital sap, and the end product of our digested food, thoughts, feelings and experiences. Ojas is the container of our energy source and the capacity of our immune system, without which... both prana and tejas disperse. Like water it is the sustaining source to all life. If ojas is depleted we will struggle to thrive and our heath will diminish. Our main goal in the practice of stable health is keeping our vital reserve - ojas and stable agni intact. Unfortunatly for us, our culture is focused on a non-stop rollercoaster of stimulation, aggressive scheduling and a general elevation of uber-extremist activities. In other words no one is getting praised for taking a nap and in our over externalized, oversexed society, just the mention of bhramacharya could definatly get you un-followed. We see the results of these overly active depleted lifestyle tendencies showing up as chronic fatigue syndromes, auto-immune disorders, heart disease, sleep issues, fertility issues and too many more to mention here. The reality is that most of us cannot fully disengage from our aggressive cultural demands and tendencies. After all, we are householders. We can relax into the reality that we are all sifting our way though the maze of relationships, family, earning money, 5 o’clock traffic, food and the whirlpool of never ending social media. So to protect our capacity for vivacious stable health and joyful living, here are 5 simple tips.
1. Stop moving so much. Our state of constant motion can deplete and burn through our ojas. As a method to build and support ojas, find something beautiful and sit yourself infront of it, soaking in its wonder. -relax with some restorative or yin yoga. Lay down and enjoy some yoga nidra or sit still and take in the healing vibration of a singing bowl meditation or your favorite chanting. Go outside, lay yourself down under the sky, stars or the shade of a great tree and absorb the grounded, stable, nutrients of the earth, the vast, unfathonable nature of the sky and notice nature changes and moves on her own, you can relax all your effort and let her unfold…
2. Stop talking so much. Save your prana! Talking is like wind, a function of udana vayu, too much of this wind can deplete prana and dry ojas up. I know this is an extension of #1 however it is worthy of its own notation. Both, 1 & 2 are pratyahara practices. Consciously withdrawing from certain motor/ sensory stimutations can be compared with moving from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system. In the example of the nervous system, the blood moves from the limbs back into the vital organs to nourish, rest and digest. Similarly, diminishing talking/moving allows vital energy to move inward for total system support. Take a morning, afternoon or a whole day and practice silence. Retain your prana and simply receive the world around you.
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, taught silence as a main means of instruction. “Silence is the true upaseda, it is the perfect upaseda.” because, “Truth is beyond words; it does not warrant explaination.”
3. Move Slower. Practice patience. Refrain from rushing, stop adding more things to your list and strive to do less but engage consciously. Take a break from caffeine and other stimulants and bring yourself back into a natural speed. In yoga we do this by coordinating simple physical dynamic movements with deep relaxed breathing. Finding this slower, natural pace is a helpful practice to connect with the unique second by second experience of your life.
“Nothing can be more useful to a man than the determination not to be hurried.”
-Henry David Thoreau
4. Practice Single Pointed Attention. Dharana. Of course meditation is the preparation and the practice of this one tip. Mulit-tasking (don’t we love this one!) takes so much energy. The reality is that splitting attention means that nothing gets the benefit of our full focused energy. Like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, multi tasking can be... not only stressful but taxing energetically. Clear your field by doing one thing at a time. *ESPECIALLY* while giving yourself vital nourishment, i.e. eating. A tip is to sit and relax for 20 minutes after your meal and catch up on some light reading or enjoy some light music, like soft rock for the 70’s or your favorite arena.
5. Pray, Meditate, Connect with your Source. Bhakti Yoga. Cultivate your Love and Light through whatever means is dearest to you. David Frawley writes in his book, Yoga and Ayurveda, “Devotion is the path of divine love through which we seek to merge into the divine within the heart. It consists of the worship of the Divine Beloved as the ultimate reality, externaly and internaly.” Turning your mind towards supports sattva and sets your intention to live in connection with the heart. So many of us are longing for support and relief from the stresses of our life. Connecting with your Source, reminds us that divine support is ever present, a simple choice of opening our awareness to a higher consciousness. Cultivating devotion shines a light on the thread that binds us through our hearts to our own Divinity, reminding us of our deeper purpose and highest Self.
Discovery and nurturance of the highest Self is the goal of both Yoga and Ayurveda. We can rest assured that living in our ever more aggressive and demanding culture, protecting our vital energy reserves is the most important task. Wading through the muck of life and progressing on this path of Self- discovery takes a lot of energy! To stay supported on this path, build and protect your ojas.