Spring is generally my favorite time of year; it's cheery, crisp, we're surrounded by wildflowers, the scent of jasmine and orange blossoms.
This year, however, the early heat in California has burned off most of the wildflowers early on, and our temperatures are fluctuating so inconsistently, it's hard to imagine this time as Spring.
Traditionally in Ayurveda, we would use the transition of seasons to cleanse, detox, rebuild our systems to prepare for the upcoming months. This can be a bit obfuscating when our grounding and all that surrounds us is so variant. We want to get rid of stagnation, but we aren't quite sure how.
I've noticed with people that I am working with, close friends, and in my own life that despite this irregularity we are still craving the essence of spring: renewal, birth, shedding, livelihood, lack of stagnation and increased flow.
One of my main focuses in studying Ayurveda has been to be able to bring everything back to the five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. Learning how the sensory impressions we are continuously taking in affects us, is largely helpful when that around us is unstable. We are always digesting sensory information, learning to give these actions a break or some restoration is very helpful to maintaining a state of health or svastha. I wanted to share the ways that I have been working with the five senses to aid transition through this time:
- Reading - A Quote from the ever-inspiring Pema Chodron "...at that point you will actually want to be present - present as you go through a door, present as you take a step, present as you wash your hands or wash a dish, present to being triggered, present to simmering, present to the ebb and flow of your emotions and thoughts. Day in and day out, you'll find that you notice sooner when you're hooked, and it will be easier to refrain. If you continue to do this, a kind of shedding happens - a shedding of old habits, a shedding of being run around by pleasure and pain, a shedding of being held hostage by the eight worldly concerns. Awakening is not a process of building ourselves up but a process of letting go. It's a process of relaxing in the middle - the paradoxical, ambiguous middle, full of potential, full of new ways of thinking and seeing - with absolutely no money-back guarantee of what will happen next."
- Spraying my face (with open eyes) with rose water or jasmine hydrosol to cool and hydrate my eyes on days where wind has left them a little dry and inflamed.
- Facial Steams - I've been incorporating this practice into my routine more and more. It's so simple; bring filtered pure water to a boil, add in any aromatic herbs you may have (rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, lavender, rose), lower the heat and allow to simmer. While simmering, use a towel to tent your head over the water, inhale the aroma. When you've had enough, strain the herbs and drink the tea. Fig and Yarrow creates excellent facial steams that I've been treating myself to, but you can just as easily throw in any fragrant herbs you may have around the house. These are excellent at helping to clear any excess stagnation of mucuous or other icky buildup we may be hanging onto in our respiratory tracts.
- I've been listening to Lucy Rose: Check out her music here. Sweet, melodic tunes accompanied by a beautiful voice.(Perfect for listening to while facial steaming.)
- Elderberries - At this time of year, you can pick Elderberries at Griffith Park. You can also buy them in medicinal form as a tincture at your local health food store. Elderberry is wonderful at mitigating the early signs of a cold. Read more about them here.
- Foat Soaks, are another essential for this time of year. When we get home from a long, hard day at work it can be very difficult to unwind, to turn off the mind and be present. Add hot water to a large bowl - add in 1 tablespoon baking soda. Optional: ginger powder, any aromatic herbs or essential oils (I like Eucalyptus or Sweet Orange). Allow your feet to soak for 10-15 minutes while you journal, drink tea, practice any gentle breathing exercise. This practice is noticeably grounding.
- Massage - I have been using this Sleep Easy Oil before bed. Massaging your body, even for a short amount of time, increases circulation, the production of oxytocin, and promotes relaxation.
- Facial Oil - My skin has been especially dry lately. These are the two oils I alternate: Sarada's Day & Night Oil is excellent for those with sensitive and dry skin. Evan Healy's Rosehip Serum is excellent for those who may tend towards oilier skin. Apply a small amount gently to the skin after rinsing or cleansing to moisturize and hydrate the face.