Spring is finally here in Southern New England. Longer days, warmer weather. Flowers are beginning to bloom, wild animals are giving birth. It is a time for renewal. It’s time for spring cleaning.
For many of us, spring cleaning is about deep-cleaning our homes. We climb into all those hard-to-reach spaces. We wash, maybe even change, the curtains and other décor that is difficult to clean regularly. We bring more bright and pastel colors into our spaces versus the darker, warmer colors that we’ve had during the winter months. This is also a great time to “spring clean” our bodies. Many people choose to do a diet cleanse or go through a panchakarma (a guided ayurvedic detox program); what about cleansing the mind?
For me, this means more meditation and contemplation. This spring I am looking at all the information I take in to observe how it affects me. Does it feed me or starve me? News, social media, the people I surround myself with. I have also started observing my self-talk. This is a difficult one as many of us – myself included – have learned to be critical and judgmental of ourselves. Words that connotate being less-than or unworthy pop up at random, often unexpected, times. It has become part of my spiritual practice to pause that mental dialogue as soon as I recognize it, observe the situation at hand, then counter with a supportive thought. This is ahimsa (non-harming) in action, aimed at the self.
For example, perhaps I messed-up a simple task. My mind starts telling me that I am “stupid” and “should know better.” So I pause and observe the situation, noticing that I am distracted (aka not present in the moment). I counter the mental dialog with something like “you’re usually really good at tasks like this, but you seem really distracted. Let’s take a few deep breaths to see if we can relax and focus more.” Or perhaps the mind comments on weight gain during the pandemic. Words such as “fat, ugly” float around in my head, so I again pause. The counter might be “you’re beautiful. But if you want to lose some weight you know what to do to keep your body healthy and strong, and you’re good at it.” And there are so many more examples I could choose – my mind is very active.
Self-observation is a core concept in yoga and Ayurveda. And observing mental chatter is just one aspect of self-observation. I look forward to changing my relationship with this self-critical, self-judgmental part of me. Bringing ahimsa to yet another part of my daily life. If you’re looking for ways to incorporate the teachings of yoga and Ayurveda into your spiritual practice, contact me.