How do you digest life?
Mind and body are not separate entities but are deeply interrelated. The mind can affect the condition of the body, just as the condition of the body can affect the quality and state of mind. There is an intimate relationship between the brain and stomach which means that digestion responds to thoughts and emotions.
The healing tradition of Ayurveda teaches that health and wellbeing depend upon our ability to digest everything we receive from the environment. This is not only our food and drink, but also our experiences and emotions as well as the sensory input we receive through our senses namely the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin.
Agni is the Sanskrit term for “digestive fire” which breaks down food and experiences, assimilating what is useful, and eliminating the rest.
When digestive ability, or agni, is strong, healthy tissues are created, waste products are effectively eliminated and a subtle essence called ojas is produced. Ojas is experienced as our innermost vital essence and our enthusiasm for life. Ojas is the basis for clarity of perception, immunity, overall strength – physical, mental and spiritual, as well as the glow of our aura.
If agni is weakened through improper eating, lack of activity, turbulent emotional states or an unhealthy daily routine, digestion will become compromised. This then produces toxins – ama – which is stored in the body and is the root cause of dis-ease.
Whether you are dealing with weight issues or uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, gas or indigestion, the underlying root problem is weak agni, or poor digestion.
Ayurveda recommends a variety of practical techniques to keep digestive fire strong. By including these practices into your daily life, you can strengthen agni and, in turn, facilitate weight loss, improve nutrient absorption and food metabolism, treat uncomfortable digestive symptoms, digest life experiences and enhance your overall sense of innate wellbeing and vitality:
- Meditate daily – regular practice helps to restore balance to your body, including the processes which control digestion. Meditation is also an effective way to manage stress.
- Regular exercise – whether it is a little yoga every morning or a short daily walk, this aids digestion and controls sugar spikes.
- Don’t overeat – when you eat more food than your stomach can accommodate, your body cannot break it down properly. Your body will also tend to produce more acid, thus causing reflux and
indigestion which leads to gas, discomfort or bloating. Ayurveda recommends that you leave one-quarter of your stomach empty to allow space for the digestive process.
- Sip on ginger tea throughout the day – ginger is known as a “universal remedy” due to its many medicinal properties. Ginger can relax the smooth muscles of the intestine which relieves symptoms of gas and cramping and strengthens digestive fire.
- Eat your largest meal at lunchtime – your body is most able to digest food at midday, when you are active and digestive fire is at its strongest. In the evening your body is slowing down and preparing for sleep. If you eat your biggest meal at dinner, when your digestive fire is weaker, you can feel heavy and bloated and more likely to have difficulty falling asleep.
- Practice letting go of turbulent emotions – have you noticed how emotions effect your digestion? You may get heartburn when you feel stressed, lose your appetite when you feel sad, or feel nauseous before a big presentation. Unprocessed emotions can put a strain on the natural digestive process and lead to chronic digestive issues. By learning how to manage stress and release emotional turbulence, you help your digestive system work naturally and efficiently.
Proper digestion, with a strong agni, plays a central role in your physical and emotional wellbeing. Ayurveda recognises that we are not what we eat, but “we are what we digest.” By making choices that strengthen your digestive ability, you form the foundation for good health and vitality.
If any of this resonates with you, if you would like to learn how to meditate, need treatment for digestive ailments or emotional counselling, please give me a ring for more information and to book an appointment.
Written with love by:
Teacher / Ayurvedic Therapist / Counsellor
011 781 4797 / 072 800 4982