A new year is here! If you are reading this article, you are most likely someone who is interested in health, and you may already have a few New Year’s Resolutions related to your well-being. But even with the best of intentions and strong motivators to change, it can still be very difficult to follow through on our resolutions. But why? Besides for usually trying to change everything at once and getting overwhelmed, the reason comes down to how we respond to temptations in the present, according to Hal Hershfield, an assistant professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. "The present acts as a magnifying effect for our emotions," Hershfield says. This means that when there is a desire right in front of us, it feels more powerful and 'necessary' than a long-term desire, and before we know it we are breaking a resolution.
So how do you stay on track with the following 5 Ayurvedic Resolutions? Make your resolutions public (tell your friends and family or start a blog about your changes), set milestone markers, use if-then statements to form new habits and don’t be afraid to start over on a resolution if you get off track!
So print out this article and use it as a step-by-step guide for 2017. Practice the first resolution for one month, and then start the second one, adding it to the first habit you’ve already started. Remember that living Ayurvedically is a lifestyle, and takes time and effort to build, but your body, mind and spirit will thank you!
Insomnia, unfortunately, is a very common problem. Many people have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep. Here are some best practices to work toward this resolution!
- Be in bed by 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. at the very latest.
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Don’t use phones or computers in the bedroom, especially 30 minutes before sleeping. Better to not watch TV in bed either.
- Take a warm bath with epsom salts before getting into bed.
- Drink a warm ½ cup of milk or almond milk before bed and spice it with nutmeg, maple syrup and cardamom powder.
- Apply some to the soles of your feet and your head.
Resolve to cook at least one meal at home each day. Sign up for a local cooking class with an Ayurvedic practitioner in your area and purchase one or two Ayurvedic cookbooks. The goal isn't to become a fancy master chef - this resolution is about Not only will you save money, but you will also be able to prepare food that is fresh, nourishing, and prepared to your own dietary liking.
Modern life is fast and it doesn't show any signs of slowing down - unless we make it. With so much focus on the external, it is too easy to neglect our spirits. But the quickest, simplest way to feed your soul is to practice meditation. It doesn't have to be complicated or overly ritualistic. Find a comfortable place to sit with a straight spine, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Many people find that repeating a mantra, prayer or positive saying is also helpful and relaxing. When worries and to-do lists start creeping in, keep returning your focus to your breath or mantra. As you make this a daily practice, see what realizations and insights appear. Journaling or speaking with a close friend or spiritual advisor can be helpful to process emotions and thoughts after meditation. Before or after meditation or both, you may also want to read a spiritual or inspirational text!
Seasonal junctures are times of both inner and outer transitions. Your body has to adapt to the changes in weather and temperature. Prepare your internal environment by doing a week-long panchakarma under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner, if possible. Otherwise, do a mini-panchakarma at home. Give yourself an oil massage daily with the proper oil. Use nasya drops to lubricate the nasal passages. Eat a simple diet of basmati rice, dal, or kitchari, and mildly spiced cooked veggies. Drink cumin, coriander, and fennel tea. Do restorative yoga. Meditate and journal. Take triphala or psyllium husk (Sat isagbol) at night. Minimize your time spent with electronic devices. Practice silence to the greatest extent possible.
Setting up consultations with an Ayurvedic doctor or practitioner can be one of the greatest gifts you give yourself. Even if you don't do one every month, try it out every other month. Keep in close contact with your Ayurvedic practitioner and don't be afraid to ask for help. Many practitioners also offer spiritual counseling and energy healing, along with Ayurvedic guidance. Being accountable to someone else can help you stick to your resolutions, and your practitioner will be able to help you stay motivated and show you how far you've come!
"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something."
In Ayurveda, everything you do, even if it seems small and insignificant, adds up. You don't have to have a "perfect" Ayurvedic diet or meditate every single day without fail to have positive change in your life. Don’t let Vata take over and turn you into a worrying machine, or let Pitta’s obsession with perfection keep you from trying or even starting over. And don't be afraid to tell Kapha to get going! Be easy with yourself. Enjoy the moment. Don't feed into judgment and negative self-talk. Believe in yourself and in the little, important steps that you make.
Read more seasonal change insights!