In Ayurveda, digestion is everything! This is not only the digestion of our food, but the digestion of our experiences through our five senses and extra senses. The digestive fire or Agni, as we call it, needs to be robust and burning brightly so that all of what we ingest, both physically (through food) and mentally/emotionally (through experiences) can be thoroughly metabolized. This can be likened to a fire burning in your fireplace. When it's burning brightly and beautifully it gives off adequate light, heat, and beauty. When it's dwindling down to ashes and coals it provides nothing but toxic residue. And if it's burning out of control, it'll burn the house down. Your belly is that fireplace. You've heard the term "fire in your belly"? Well this is literally what fuels all processes including our passion, creativity and determination! Without it, we can feel tired, fatigued, depressed, defeated, and sick which affects our ability to work, play, have good relationships, be of service, and manifest our dreams. We want to feed our body-mind-heart-spirit with nutrients (both physical and metaphysical) that create something called Ojas, or subtle nourishment, immunity, or essence. Ojas is the result of ingesting foods, beverages and experiences that are nourishing to the physiology, mind, heart, and spirit. Ama, or toxic residue, on the other hand, is the result of ingesting foods and experiences that are harsh, full of chemicals from processing, and detrimental to the physiology, mind and spirit. The body-mind is in a constant state of needing to digest all that happens to it and around it 24/7! That includes our experiences and the emotions those experiences produce. Wherever there is energy, there is digestion, and the food and experiences we take in must be digested and processed resulting in either Ama or Ojas.
Take the time today to bring awareness to everything you put into your body with regard to foods and beverages. How do you start your day; with a cup of caffeine, processed creamer loaded with artificial ingredients, and white sugar? Do you skip breakfast due to time constraints? Do you snack on junk food at the office, skip lunch and then are famished at dinner? Do you smoke, drink, or eat in excess? What types of food do you put in your shopping cart; foods around the perimeter of the store or processed foods from the middle aisles that you microwave to add insult to injury?
Now take the time to bring awareness to the other ways you feed yourself. Are you compelled to multitask? Do you watch violence on TV (including the news) just before going to sleep? Is your job or career a source of toxicity or are you in your dharma, doing what you love? Are your relationships toxic and depleting to your energy, or nurturing, compassionate, and loving? All of these things contribute to either Ama or Ojas. There will definitely be more on this later. In the meantime, there's lots of grist for the mill here. The first step is awareness. Many times and for many reasons we get into habits that contribute to illness and dis-ease without even realizing it. Take the time to step back and look at your life as a detached observer, without judgement, and see where you are being invited to make some changes that will create Ojas! ; )
Dr. Joanna Carmichael is an RN, Dr. of Metaphysics, Divinity, Interfaith Minister, Ayurveda Practitioner, Spiritual Teacher and Founder & CEO of the Kalyana Centre in Narberth, PA