Ayurveda and Meditation

Everyone is unique even for meditation style. Find out what is the best meditation style for you during COVID-19.

Life is like a spiral circle. Are you in or are you out? (illustrated and copied right owned by VATA YOGA this website)

“I cannot stop my thoughts,” this is the first thing people often said to me when I asked them about meditation. The truth is, as long as our heads are above our necks and we have physical minds, we will always generate thoughts. Meditation’s goal is not to “cease” thoughts but to “watch, observe and then let go” the thoughts based on my trainings, practices and experiences.

How did my meditation journey start?

My first connection to meditation was in 2003 when I walked past a second hand book store on Oxford Street in Sydney during my exchange student year. I remember that was a sunny, blue-sky kind of day and I saw a little book called “How to meditate for Kids” in one of the boxes outside the store. I took the book and paid. With a very small fee, I felt I had discovered some wisdoms that will eliminate my troubles in life and that I would have hit the jack pot living ever happily after. With excitement, I followed the instructions by first going crazy with my thoughts, then visualising them dissolving down and eventually hoping them go away. But they didn’t. I was truly disappointed with my very first experience with my meditation and felt I was not gifted. Then I put the book aside and moved on to other more fun and sensory events in my life. What I remember though, even till now, was the weirdness and what-the-hell-am-I-doing feelings when I closed my eyes and just let my thoughts wonder. “Phew, that was strange and foreign.” Because I never came across anyone who closed their eyes when they were not sleeping before then.

I love self-help books and started reading them since my high school days. So meditation has always been an urban myth to me. I was intrigued and yet scared of it. However, what brought me back to resume the search again was when I broke up with my first big love in my late 20s. I was out of balances all the time. I felt miserable and my monkey mind was going banana. I had been practicing Yoga but I needed more. Something powerful and sustainable to “stop” my crazy thoughts. So again, I was just like everyone else. I wanted to meditate to cease my thoughts and I started to explore all styles of meditations I could find.

I resumed again with guided meditations with light, colours, chakras, auras, angels, inner child, past life progression, I am that I am from Wayne Dyer, all different techniques from Hay House authors, self-love, soul purpose, higher self, Alantis, singing bowl, crystal bowl, Japanese Zen, Chinese buddhism, Ayurveda, Bija Mantra, Kundalini, other Yoga meditations..,etc. I tried everything but it never really hit that spot. I could sit with my eyes closed for 20 mins then I started to fidget. Then I was introduced to Vipassana, the infamous 10-day complete silence meditation training (laugh). And it turned out to be the best and life changing experiences I have encountered. 10 days of intense over 10 hours sitting each day is the most efficient way to train the mind. And I have been sitting daily now and it has become a part of me.

So what which meditation style should you try? Hereby I am borrowing Ayurveda dosha types to offer you some insights:

Image ©by VATA YOGA website

VATA Dosha People/ Imbalances: For anyone whose innate body type is Vata or have excessive Vata in the body (esp during COVID-19), the best meditation is “silence.” This means you want to sit in a quiet, but not too open and safe space with no disturbance from outer world. You want to practice the simplest techniques, best with your own breaths and body sensations. Focus on your gross sensations first (such as your in and out-breaths), then the subtle sensations throughout your body after some time. This is called Anapana meditation, the first phase of Vipassana. Ears are main organs for Vata people, so remove all audio stimulations will be the first step. Minimise the audio instructions and music when you practice. So-Hum mantra is also good for Vata.

PITTA Dosha People/ Imbalances: For Pitta, excessive heat and water within the body, the suitable meditation will be Cosmic Orbit Meditation or Taoism Orbit Meditation. Eyes governs Pitta. You want to sit in a darker room or best in the nature, under full moon. A moderate amount of verbal guidance is good for Pitta but be mindful of comparing. Visualisation of Green, Blue, White and Peach-Pink will help reduce Pitta. The Mantras for Pitta will be Srim, Klim, Aim that you can chant the single Mantras repeatedly while closing your eyes for few minutes. The theme to practice is: do not look for achieving anything in your meditation, let it happen not to make it happen.

KAPHA Dosha People/ Imbalances: For Kapha, the stagnation and over-storage of energies and emotions are what to be balanced. Kapha needs a little push to sit into the meditation to avoid falling asleep (me sometimes!). Started with a short pranayama before sitting would be very ideal. I normally practiced a short Kapalabhati or belly deep breathing before sitting and it helped me set into the meditation straight away. Krim, Hum, Hrim are Kapha mantras. Visualisation with colors of Red, Orange, Yellow and Purple also help. Community feel is important for loving Kapha people, find your loved ones to sit together or a community online to motivate yourself to meditate more.

If you don’t know about your Ayurveda dosha type yet, please go here for a free self assessment.

I hope you find these tips helpful to you. And my personal experiences will never be the same as yours. It is you who creates your own experiences and realities. Explore and find out what’s best for you, even for meditation. I also know people who can only meditate when lying down, then Yoga Nidra will help. Yoga is the prep for meditation, so I feel it’s my ultimate wish and goal to share more about meditation while teaching Yoga. It is also important for you to know that the first benefit of meditation is to bring you some calmness and peace afterwards and the more you practice that will eventually sharpen your focus and your mind. After practicing regularly, you will notice the thoughts (negative and positive) will stop lingering, which is what we want to practice “equanimity” as the essence of all teachings.

This will teach us to become less attached to worldly things, including ourselves.

I am still learning and unlearning each day. And my meditation feels also different each day. I do hope to share more about my experiences here and do look forward to hearing yours as well.

If you find this post interesting and helpful, please share it out and quote my site.

Good luck with your practice!

Ayurveda: Dealing with Loss during COVID-19

What does Ayurveda teach us about loss and grief and how can we cope with it?

“Whatever you feel is normal.”

During COVID-19, we are all experiencing a certain loss in various form. It can be a loss of a friend, a family member, a companion, a job, a business, a known life style, a relationship and so on. What does Ayurveda teach us about loss and grief and how can we cope with it?

Based on Ayurveda, when we experience separation whether it is physical or mental, we create Vata in our mind and body. Vata is composed of Ether & Air. Excessive Vata make us difficult to sleep, over-think, fidget, worry and lose focus. Vata creates pains in the body. As a result, we experience heartaches, stomach aches from anxiety and over-worries. Several circumstances include examples like female mensuration, menopause, death of love ones and moving away from home do create more Vata. COVID-19 has become a Vata habitat that everyone will naturally feel more Vata imbalanced.

It’s important to understand that whatever you are feeling right now is normal. We are all grieving at different scales, being forced to let go our old way of lives. If you are unfortunately losing someone close to you due to COVID-19, please remember that the only normal grieving process is the one we experience ourselves. I have gained tremendous help from the book by Dr. Kenneth J. Doka: Grief Is a Journey : Finding Your Path Through Loss. Understanding what you are experiencing right now will help you cope better with your emotions when you lose loved ones.

Hereby I’ve listed down some practical and easy tips you can practice at home right away to pacify Vata from Ayurveda. My aim of writing this post is to support you to go through this Vata excess period based on my direct experiences and training. Please note that all the guidances I am sharing here are merely based on my personal experiences and should not serve as your primary medical advices when treating any illness. Please consult with your medical practitioners when doubt.

Vata’s characteristics: Dry, rough, pain, cold, unfocused, worrying, fearful, fidgeting, under weight, sleep deprivation, over talking, chattering minds, fast but no action, distracted, sensitive to sounds, over-energetic but burn out fast..,etc.

  • Keep your feet warm: Vata has a tendency of cold hands and feet. If you have cold feet, please soak your feet in warm water for 5 mins so it helps your circulations.
  • Lubricate your body: Vata dries our body. If you discover your skins becoming extra dry these days, especially around your joints, moisturise them regularly. The best natural remedy is to use any vegetable oils, such as coconut or extra virgin cold pressed olive oils with a few drops of Lavandar essential oils. Leave your body with some water after shower without drying completely and apply the oils to your joints. The body absorbs the oils rather quickly and leave you refreshed.
  • Touch your body: when we are sad, we store sadness in our tissues. Sometimes the traumas are hidden in the deepest tissues for years without you knowing it. Have you felt that emotions flow after a massage? In Chinese medicine, our Lung meridian carries sadness and grief. Lung meridian starts from (LU 1) under the mid clavicle in the first intercostal space above your chest, and if you massage this pressure point, the grief can be released. I recalled someone massaging me this area after my mother passed away, I bursted out in tears. You can simply use your thumb finger to gently rub this area or press into LU 1 for few minutes. Also you can do the Yoga Pose Broken Wings (here you can follow my Yoga tutorial video) to stimulate this meridian.
Lung Meridian (LU 1) is right below the mid of our Clavicle bones on both sides.
Broken Wing Yoga pose to release traumas, grief and sadness (stimulate Lung and Heart meridians)
  • Do breathing exercise: Pranayama means control of the Prana (life forces/ vitality) is especially good for Vata. To remind yourself to come back to the present moment by deliberately inhale and exhale longer and deeper will decrease Vata in the mind. Holding breaths for a shorter period of time when you have practiced after some time will help create space to meditation.
  • Practice Silence: Vata is triggered by over-loading information. You can probably relate to that by following the news constantly and watching the conspiracy and debates over social media during COVID-19. Your mind and body will feel fed up at one point, however, let’s not wait until that burn-out happens to stop feeding ourselves with unhealthy information. Now it is the best time to practice Noble Silence, which is very helpful to calm the Vata minds. Offer yourself 2-3 times a week, turn down your screens, shut your phones for couple of hours or half day just to embrace the silence. No talking and no journaling. Practice silence during meals is the best way to enjoy your food.
  • Keep Meditation Simple: In this time, the less is more. Practice Anapana or Vipassana meditation, or any breath observing meditations will help best. Focus on “surrender” and “forgiveness of disease” will ease your impatiences and agitations.

It’s not the best time to fast during the epidemic. If you like to fast, keep it a day on juice or fruit or just skip 1 meal a day. Full fasting will release more Amas (wastes) out of the body and that can leave us more vulnerable to virus.

Again, it’s my 2cents based on what I had practiced living in a modern busy world to share with you. I hope this post benefits you in some way or another. Feel free to quote and share out to anyone who need.

Sending you love and peace.

How to use Ayurveda during COVID-19?

I have practiced Ayurveda since 2016 after my 200-hour Ayurveda Yoga Therapist training with ThaiVedic in Bali, Indonesia. I started it as my personal routine and it has worked very well for me after experimenting different healing modalities. Ayurveda is a new life style that preserves the longevity of life. It has helped me grow mentally and physically to where I want to be. I have benefited so much with my new Ayurveda life style and I noticed myself being less sick, less fatigues, more grounded and more resilient. I was working a 9-6 corporate hectic job and teaching Yoga simultaneously for 3 years and my Ayurveda habit supported me with the energy and strengths I needed to manage many tasks on my plate. And I am reaching my 40s now but never feeling so young, rejuvenated, and centered.

How to survive COVID-19 with Ayurveda? I prefer to replace the word “survive” with “thrive” and “out-grow.” Every crisis is an opportunity of personal growth. We do not grow when we stay in our comfort zones. If we observe and pay careful attentions to COVID-19, the virus itself is able to co-exist in human body peacefully without causing disturbances nor doing harms. Yes, we are seeing a lot of deaths but we are also seeing a lot of people infected without showing any symptoms. This perfectly explained that virus is part of nature and we are also part of nature. If we are all part of nature, then we can be one. Ayurveda’s core value is to bring harmony between us to Nature, Mother Earth. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me,” Ayurveda teaches us to embody a life style to create true peace with the Nature. All healings come from Nature, including us. All healings come from within, from us.

In Ayurveda’s term, AHAMKARA means Mother Nature aka Immune System Governor. AHAMKARA originates from Spirits, Mind and Sense Organs, enabling us to express, to feel and to experience the worldly events. When AHAMKARA is imbalanced, damaged and collapsed, they manifest in diseases. Good spiritual health is the pre-requisite for good physical and mental health; therefore, we must cultivate spiritual health first to develop a good immune system to defend COVID-19.

Let’s take a closer look at COVID-19 itself based on Ayurveda. Virus is Pitta dominated according to its physiological symptoms such as temperatures, heat, sweat, eye sights, inflammation and mental imbalances such as agitations, aggression, resentments and impatiences towards the politics, government policies and unplanned events. Also the COVID-19 is creating a lot of Vata imbalances such as dry cough, pneumonia, respiratory sickness, fears, uncertainty about future, sleeping problems, anxiety, depressions, frustrations and loss of weight, loss of hair and body liquid, dry skins, slower bowl movement..,etc. Thus, I have created a simple and easy-to-adapt routine for modern people who are currently working from home, staying at home and under quarantine to treat mainly Vata and Pitta.

COVID-19 Ayurveda 14 Day Simple Routine to Treat Pitta & Vata Imbalances:

(The best time to wake up for Ayurveda is before sunrise at 4-5AM but if you cannot try below)

6-7 AM Wake up, gentle tongue scrap (with brass scrapper or a small tea spoon), oil purging 5 mins (best with coconut or flex seed, or any vegetable oils like olive), brush teeth and wash your face

7 AM Drink warm water with lemon or turmeric/ ginger tea (fresh or tea bags) to help warm up your digestive fires

7-8 AM Morning Exercise (Keep it moderate up to 1 hour, do not over exhaust, build sufficient energy and chi for the day but not to crush yourself!)

i) Practice simple breathing exercise (Calming Breaths: Inhale from both nostrils x 6, hold x 3 and exhale x6 for 5 rounds with eyes closed), Set 1 positive intention for the day, say a prayer to yourself and anyone

ii) Start with easy stretch and circular movements, Tai Chi, Yoga Sun Salutation

iii) Include 1-2 strengthening exercise: prank, push ups, balancing pose, inversions

iiii) End your exercise with long hold stretches, twist and supine poses to cool down

Practice a short sitting meditation up to 15 mins by closing your eyes. You can listen to Pitta meditation I created here

8:15 AM Shower and spray some natural aromatic scent to cheer yourself

8:30 AM Light breakfast – include cooked grains (muslins, granolas), soft fruit, juice and warm tea, main consumption on easy-to-digest food for morning

9AM Work, check your to-do list, prioritize your tasks

10-12PM Pitta time – a good time to go out, have meetings, sales visits and complete difficult long due tasks

12PM Biggest meal of the day, Pitta – less spices, less oils, less deep fried food, less processed food, and less overly seasoned food

2-4PM Vata time – a good time to be creative, brain storming, writing proposals, creating new things and projects, create to-do list for next day

5PM Prepare dinner

6PM (the best time to have dinner for Ayurveda is 5pm) Dinner

Keep it light and fresh, with lots of green and fruit, less raw food (Vata)

8PM Kapha time: cultivate love and family time, nurture yourself with a nice bath, slow music, aroma therapy and self massage

9PM Yoga Nidra Meditation (Deep Relaxation) or Yin Yoga, Sitting Meditation before getting ready to sleep

Before 10PM Bed time

To treat excessive Pitta: try to plan less and less far ahead, because we are now living in an extremely unpredictable world with COVID-19. We only frustrate ourselves if we cannot keep our promises to ourselves when we cannot control. To learn when to let go of control and understand it’s okay not to have a big goal right now. To develop patiences in this difficult time for Pitta people is the best asset for future.

To treat excessive Vata: to mediate more, to create a routine (new or old) and commit to the routine for 21 days to make it a habit to stay centered. To develop and deep dive into a new skill to help maintain focus and train your mind.

Take a lot of water, wash your hands, lubricate your body with oils (coconut oils) and keep your simple exercise at home. Join a virtual community if you need that friendly push! Ask your friends/ colleagues to attend online Yoga, Fitness and Meditation classes. Create a self-healing tool to strengthen your AHAMKARA aka immune system. Take your power back. Honour your body. Love yourself. Start today!

“Living equally for yourself, another and the world. Without preference based on past attachment or future desires, we choose because in that moment, it is the most balanced and ideal action to serve all 3 aspects of our true self,”Purpose of Being-Alive. And this equates to the principle of Karma Yoga, we don’t cease to work because we should work continuously without attaching to the outcomes. The each action (Karma) we choose should base on 1/3 the benefit of me, 1/3 the benefit of all living things and 1/3 the benefit of process of action itself. “Health is a direction not the destination,” by Ayurveda.

Sending you love and peace.

A-shanti, shanti, shantihi…