Today, none of us can pass by a television screen, pick up a magazine, walk thru a bookstore or even check email without receiving an earnest and enticing offer of THE THING that is going to bring that health, happiness, beauty, peace, wisdom, energy and clarity we’ve been hungry for. But if you think for a moment about how complex and beautiful Nature is, and how often everything is changing – the seasons, for instance, or the different stages of our lives – it becomes obvious that no ONE thing can be the PERFECT prescription for EVERYone. No matter how excited we might get about the latest health craze, exercise routine or spiritual book, the real, down-to-earth question remains for each of us to answer: What’s best for you?
Growing up in Northern California in the 60’s and 70’s, I was fortunate to be constantly exposed to a vast spectrum of conscious lifestyle options, diet plans, healing modalities, and spiritual paths. There was always a new idea catching people’s attention, or a fascinating teacher or spiritual or dietary celebrity riding the wave of everyone’s interest. I have to admit, I have always been drawn to swimming in waters rich with tidbits of wisdom. I traveled to Asia, too, to study with teachers and soak up more “knowledge treasures” of cultures, cuisines, healing traditions, and spiritual lineages much older and more refined than ours.
I’m grateful to have had amazing teachers over the course of my life, grateful to have seen such incredible places and to have heard engrossing music, tasted delicious meals, inhaled stunning aromas and received tremendous healing touch! Such a broad exposure to so much! And yet, it wasn’t until I digested the value of Ayurveda – the ancient Indian study of life – that I found the foundation and structure that let me make good use of all the goodness I had sought after. Instead of limiting the value of my experiences to a list of exciting stories and philosophies I could think about – or talk about at dinner parties – looking at all these treasures through the perspective of Ayurveda taught me to how to make practical use of what I’d learned. I discovered how to assess myself as a unique individual, then take a careful look at everything that touches my life, and how all things affected me. Once I could do that, I was able to start making wise choices from the smorgasboard of all the philosophies, tips, tools and plans out there – ancient or new – to serve my own needs best.
Here are three skills that can transform all your collected knowledge into living wisdom, and set you on your own personal healing journey. You will develop these skills in my course Creating Your Own Ayurveda Self-Care System for Balance and Guidance at the Open Center on Thursday evenings, beginning July 10th.
Just like every breed of dog has inherent qualities and parallel needs, we’d never expect all dogs– from Chihuahuas to Saint Bernards – to require the exact same diet, exercise routine or daily activities. So before you set off to purchase groceries, sign up for hot yoga classes, book a vacation or choose a career – get a good sense of your innate characteristics.
Wine Taste your Life: Refine Your Senses. Learn to use (not abuse!) your human sensory technology to assess and understand what’s going on in all the layers of your life. In Ayurveda, all your senses and your mind are utilized as pathways to restore and sustain physical and mental health and harmony, while increasing longevity. Learning to “taste” the subtle qualities that touch your senses will enrich your intimacy with life, give you information about how you are affected by what you experience, and inform your choices to nourish yourself, and fulfill your unique needs.
Surrender to the Power of Neutral: Aim for the “sweet spot in the middle.” We can all strangely enjoy the dramas that come along with disharmonious indulgences and entanglements when we forget what it feels like to dwell in health, harmony and contentment. As you start cultivating harmony in your health and life with your choices and decisions, your skills will develop and you’ll find you can let go of those “soft addictions” that steer you into stress-inducing intensity, over-excitement, avoidance or excess.
As you become skilled and comfortable in giving yourself what you truly need, you’ll take the true you by the hand, and develop a taste for living in your unique harmony zone, dissolving any obstacles to the peace, efficiency and vitality of your true nature!
Niika Quistgard leads Creating Your Own Ayurvedic Self Care System for Balance and Guidance.