Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lesson #5: Too Much Vata

Too Much Vata
by Gary Gran, CYT, DAy.

Fall and early winter are known as the vata time of year in ayurveda. This means it’s an easy time for vata to become excessive. So what exactly is vata, you ask? According to ayurveda, vata dosha is the life principle of air moving through space to a fault or excess. It’s main qualities are a tendency towards excessive coldness, dryness, lightness, irregularity, and movement within the body-mind complex. In severe cases, the excessive movement exhausts itself and the person becomes listless.
Textbook-style explanations can only go so far, however. So let’s try a little experiment. Let’s say you want to experience an excess of vata for yourself. Here is a checklist for what to do. (Don’t worry, we’ll give you the antidotes later.)

1) Get as much sensual stimulation as possible. Maintain your curiosity and interest in as many things as possible. Keep your social calendar full. Never miss any events, especially if they are new and unusual. And yes, try this experiment right through the fall and winter.
2) Eat fast, don’t chew, or eat while moving about, driving, reading, or watching TV.
3) Keep irregular habits. Never eat at the same time. Change your bedtime, then change it again. Never get up at the same time. Only exercise every once in a while, or exercise a whole lot, then don’t exercise at all.
4) Enjoy fast foods, raw foods, and lots of cold or frozen foods. Wash them down with iced drinks. In fact, try making iced coffee your favorite drink.
5) Travel as much as possible. And when going places, run and jump about.
6) Whatever you do, do it in excess. ‘Over do, over work, over exercise’ is your new motto.
7) Always wait as long as possible before going to the bathroom. Hold it. You wouldn’t want to miss anything, would you?
8) Hang around with other vatic people. Maybe you could get all your friends to try this experiment at the same time!
9) Let your workplace be as cold and dry as possible. Then move into the coldest and driest room you can find.
10) Refrain from organizing anything around you. Create lots of clutter.

By now, you are probably getting a little experience of vata out of control. If you’re feeling a little anxious, fearful, or insecure, you’re moving in the right direction. Keep it up!

11) Next, check out as much advertising as possible. Then go on a spending spree. Impulse buying is in.
12) Try to be active late in the afternoon. This could be the time for that shopping spree, unless there’s an all-night sale marathon.
13) Get outside whenever the weather is windy and cold. Dress lightly.
14) Make lots of noise. Talk a lot. Go places that are noisy.
15) Surround yourself with electronics -computers, cell phones, microwaves, radios, TVs, lights. The more the better, especially if they’re all turned on at the same time.

OK, so enough is enough. Or is there ever enough for the truly vatic person?

Now let’s complete our experiment with the antidotes.
1) Rest more often. Your new motto is ‘rest arrests vata.’ Learn to say no to new activities. It’s OK to miss a few events.
2) Slow down. Eat slower. Chew your food. Eat sitting down in a quiet place.
3) Create a rhythm or flow in your life. Keep regularly scheduled mealtimes. Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. Schedule and keep regular times for mild exercise and relaxation.
4) Enjoy warm, moist, nourishing, well-cooked fresh foods. Add good quality oil and a little salty taste to your food. Also try modest amounts of sour condiments.
5) No rushing, hurrying, or worrying.
6) Take regular breaks and more quiet time. Stay relaxed.
7) Attend to your bodies needs. Try warm oil massage and gentle stretching.
8) Talk less. Practice slow, smooth, quiet, deep, even breathing.
9) Stay warm and cozy. Use a humidifier if necessary.
10) Throw out clutter. Organize and arrange your environment.
11) Practice contentment. Save your resources. Don’t squander your energy or your money.
12) Go to sleep before 10pm. Rest in the late afternoon.
13) Protect yourself from the weather. Dress warmly. Use layers.
14) Reduce noise. Enjoy quiet restful music. Repeat a soothing mantra or prayer. Practice silence.
15) Enjoy quiet time outdoors. Reduce your exposure to electronics. One strategy is to balance time spent with electronics with time spent in nature.

And, finally, trust in the pattern of life. There’s no need to get worked up into an existentialist angst, chase after new experiences, or collect endless data. Be present to the life that flows through you and all around you. Trust that what you really need is already present.