I just listened to a great talk from Cate Stillman at Yoga Healer and Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta with Awaken Within Yoga. I also learn so much from Cate’s sharings with the world. I think I have listened to it 5 times or more now to deeply grasp the concepts, and I am enthusiastic to share with you some of the main points that I find so helpful!
Here’s How to EAT:
- Sit Down!!! Get grounded before eating with a moment of silence, some deep breathing, or a prayer. This allowing the sympathetic nervous system to turn off and the parasympathetic nervous system to turn on. This is essential for proper digestion. If we are in fight or flight then the blood goes to the extremities not to the belly.
- Eat quietly!!! If someone ask you a question just after you take a bite, then you have 3 choices. a) chew fast and shallow b) chew slow and be rude c) talk with a mouth full. None are good options and two produce AMA or toxins in the body! See below. Don’t talk while eating.
- Eat consciously!!! Truly and deeply taste and enjoy your food. Then you are in tune with what your body needs and when to stop. Overeating is toxic leaving the body no room for the digestive enzymes to mix in and do their job.
- Sit for 10 minutes after eating before getting up! This is the time to talk and enjoy your company. If we stand up right away it brings the air up and we lose our digestive fire.
I would like to introduce two terms that are fun and informative in Ayurveda:
AMA & OJAS
What is AMA?
Wikipedia: In ayurveda, ama is the concept of anything that exists in a state of incomplete transformation. In particular, it is claimed to be a toxic byproduct generated due to improper or incomplete digestion. The concept does not have a direct equivalent in standard medicine.
“Ama” is a Sanskrit word literally meaning “uncooked” or “undigested”.
Ama creates toxins that build up in the cellular tissue of our bodies. It blocks the flow of energy and conciousness in the cells.
Here are some ways we produce AMA:
- Overeating or Unconscious eating
- Negative Thoughts
- Inhale Poor air quality
- Processed Foods – altered, unnatural, GMO’s, Pesticides, Chemicals
- Chemicals – on the skin In lotions and everyday products that are not natural and unhealthy for the body
What is OJAS?
Ojas is a Sanskit word that means “Vitality or Vigor”. It is the life force energy that builds after 30 days of the digestive cycle and is responsible for improving health, energy, healing, strength and happiness. It is what prevents disease and heals the body. Ojas is described as our essential life energy. For Ojas to form we need complete and proper digestion. It circulates through the body and tissues to nourish all the cells and bring the body into balance as well as the mind. With no AMA and lots of Ojas we can reach a state of BLISS and tap into the Universe! Ojas is what gives us drive and enthusiasm. Ojas is the Light of Life and one with Ojas GLOWS! It is the most refined level of manifest creation. Ojas is consciousness becoming physical. Consciousness is what does the healing in a person.
In the Charka Samhita Ayurvedic text it compares Ojas and an alcoholic as opposites. The alcoholic who is living on the streets has a mind that is not clear, skin that does not shin, dull eyes, not functioning well, and different systems in the body are shutting down. They has lost their OJAS.
Without it we can see what happens. This example is extreme but on a day to day basis we may think things like,
“I am getting old so that is why I am tired, sluggish, have joint pain.”
“Getting old means : I can’t feel as good, I will have to take medicines, things fall apart”
“Digestion just doesn’t work so well as I get older”
“Old age makes my mind foggy”
NO! NO! NO!!!! We can feel GREAT well into old age! We can have clear thoughts, positive nature, healthy nervous system, vitality and vigor, a body that can heal itself, and happiness. It is our birthright to feel GOOD! Just like it is our right to breath deeply, feel deeply rested and deeply energized in life.
Nutrition = anything we Can Digest
Poison = anything we Can Not Digest
Medicine = anything that Helps Digestion
Digestion plays a BIG ROLE! This including digestion of emotions and information as well.
WHAT? DIGESTING EMOTIONS?
Yes, If we have a:
- Mind – that is busy, unsettled, distracted, restless then we can not digest our food
- Heart – that is lonely, upset, lacks stillness, is sad, disappointed, angry, bored or has a general lack of wholeness, wellness, and peace then we get a build up of AMA and the digestive system can not relax to have the enzymes break down the food and absorb the nutrients. So then the food becomes toxic in our cell.
If we are standing, driving, talking or watching a movie while eating then:
- the Parasympathetic system is not turned on
- Enzymes to break down and absorb are not functioning properly
- We produce AMA and it travels to anywhere in the body especially weak places like the joints causing arthritis, or we may end up with liver problems, arthritis, ulcers, colitis, or any number of physical aliments.
It is so important to get grounded before eating, be in the body, settle and deeply listen and feel. This is the MEDICINE!!!
Ama is one of the main reason people are overweight!
This can be from an imbalance of the mind and heart. Such eating like emotional eating then comes up. We are not focused and don’t know when to stop. Then we overeat, eat when we are not hungry, and are unaware of what our body really needs.
For Health, weight lose and overall wellness – Avoid these things:
- Overeating – we need air/space for the enzymes to move around and for oxygen to stoke the fire of digestion. Just like a fire need air to burn. If we smoother the fire it goes out. When we blow on it burns well. Leave space for digestion to happen. Ayurveda recommends 1/3 water, 1/3 food, 1/3 space.
- Eating when not Hungry – If I am not hungry then that means I do not have enough digestive fire to break down the food. If I can’t break it down then it becomes AMA.
- Eating too late – Eat an ealier lighter dinner. Our bile is highest in the middle of the day so it is best to eat your bigger meal in the middle of the day and have soup or salad for Supper (“supplement”). Ideally eat before 6pm.
The Liver? How is it affected by Digestion?
After the food goes through the belly and small intestines everything but the fiber that is getting excreted goes to the Liver via the Potal vein. The liver is a filter, it detoxifies everything. It will hang onto toxins. Which is why in Ayurveda it is recommended to do a cleanse in the spirng and fall to reset the system. So you can see how important it is to eat properly, avoid pesticides, chemicals, and things like MSG. It all goes immediately to the liver depletes our OJAS!
Acid Reflux is generally related to inflammation and excess heat in the naval chakra area. Digestive fire can be too hot, the liver can be too hot, or the intestines can be too hot. This can lead to ulcers, colitis, or many different problems with digestion.
Anything, anything, anything!!!! that goes into the body relates back to what goes on emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Any undigested experience, emotion, or information can effect digestion. So as a kid if we don’t have the tools to digest an experience then it can get stuck in the ethereal body (energy body) for us to process later. I read an article fro mmindvalley where he talked about a meditation class he took where they hook the brain up to messure the brain waves and meditate. What was found is that forgiveness was the fastest way to enlightenment. Going back through ones life and forgiving the self and others helped raise the brain waves more than anything else. A lightness comes from forgiving and healing.
Bottom line: How do we increase the flow of conscoiusness in ourselves?
Get Grounded before eating!!! We have a choice, we have free will. Once we have the knowledge then it is our responsibility to choose. What will hold us back is our old cellular memory. It is deep and draws us back in to our old patterns. If we conciously choose and put attention on it then we can shift. At first we will have to constantly remind ourselves. Come at it from a place of compassion. Notice what pulls you off! Interestingly! Be Super Curious and Forgiving!!!
Digestion inertwines so many parts of our existence. Having the body be well means healing the heart, and healing the mind too!!!
So enjoy your next meal like you never have before!!! THIS IS THE MEDICINE!!!
Enjoy your next meal like you never have before. Close your eyes and truely taste your food!