Five tips to transform your Self this spring
“Transform” is a big word and Self-Transformation can seem like a big feat, especially when you feel frustrated or stuck.
The science of Ayurveda understands that different qualities of energy exist in nature and when these energies (doshas) get out of balance in your self, that’s when you end up feeling lethargic, overweight, depressed, anxious, etc.
The doshas also exist in the seasons. Each season has its own qualities that you can learn to harness for your own benefit.
The superpower of spring is cleansing.
You can use spring’s superpower to fuel your own efforts to clear out the old and make room for a healthier, more balanced you.
Plus, being in sync with the seasons helps you to nourish a deeper connection to the natural world, which adds to the depth of your well-being.
In Ayurveda-speak, spring is the season of kapha. The elements of the earth and water make up kapha, which gives it a stable, dense, watery quality which can manifest in:
- Excess winter weight
- More mucus (running noses, colds, phlegmy coughs)
- Sluggishness, lethargy, lingering depression
Because of spring’s cleansing superpower, it’s a great time to balance kapha and do things like:
- Lose weight
- Start a new exercise program
- Clean out clutter on all levels
- Shift your food menu
- Try something new
Sounds interesting? Then let’s get down to the business of transformation!
1. Declutter your mind
Unless you’re living in a bungalow on an island beach with no electricity, you’re probably overstimulated.
We take in copious amounts of information every day, much of which just fills up space and time without providing any benefit. It’s so important to heavily filter mental stimuli in order to protect the serenity of your mind.
In order to create space for new things, you will need to de-clutter your mind. Here are some exercises to get you started:
Grab a piece of paper or your journal and ask yourself:
- What are you watching, reading, and listening to? Consider your home, school, work and social environments.
- Is it nourishing?
- Is it necessary?
- What can I let go of? In other words what can I remove from my day? (Ex. morning news, busy lunches with lots of gossiping, talk radio in the car, Facebook during the week, evening tv)
- What will I do instead? In other words, what will I fill that space with? (Ex. going for evening walks, reading personal growth or award winning books, playing board games with family, making art, playing music, spiritual practice, etc.)
2. Optimize your environment
Once you’ve decluttered your mind, you will have less distractions pulling your awareness away from your physical environment. You’ll now have space to notice excess clutter – and time to do something about it.
The space around you deeply affects the way you feel and thus the way you act. If it’s full of clutter, that’s going to make you feel weighed down and fuzzy – whether you notice it or not. And that’s going to get in the way of you being your best.
You need to make sure your space enables you to be the person you want to be.
For example, if you want to be a person that does yoga in the morning so she can feel more balanced, you need to have a space that is clear of stuff and prepared (maybe has a yoga mat and props nearby) for you to enter it and do yoga.
If you want to be a person that spends more quality time with family, you can take the television out of the center of the living room, clear out other junk that isn’t needed for family time and set up a coffee table with board games – that way the purpose of the space is clear. All you have to do is go into the living room with your family, sit down and reach for your kid’s favorite game.
The same is true if you want to be a person that eats a balanced diet and avoids binging on junk food. First, you need to set up the space to inspire you to be your best. Get rid of old spices and ancient boxes of who-knows-what and stock your cupboards with beautiful, new spices. Clean out the fridge of unused condiment bottles and half eaten tubs of processed goop and stock it with lovely fresh veggies and organic products.
Your fridge can be a joy to look at. And that, my friends, will make it easier to be the person that eats well.
- Who do I want to be? What does this person think, do and feel?
- Is there anything in my surroundings that works against me being who I want to be?
- Do I have clutter that I can get rid of?
- How can I change my surroundings to make it easier to be who I want to be?
- Using the answers from the questions above, make a list of five easy actions to take in the next 3 days and do them
3. Do a cleanse
In general terms, a cleanse means simplifying your diet so that your body does less work digesting and more work cleaning out your systems.
As a result, you feel lighter and more emotionally balanced. And your body becomes more efficient.
A simple Ayurvedic cleanse is to eat only kitchari for a day. Kitchari is a lentil and rice dish from India. Here’s a recipe.
If eating kitchari for one day is easy peasy then try increasing it to three days. If it’s too hard then try lentil soup and cooked veggies, instead.
- Why do I want to cleanse? What do I hope to achieve?
- What will my cleanse look like (what, when, how long)?
- Who do I need to inform? (Ex. tell your husband, tell your family, let them know they will be in charge of their food for the days your cleansing or that you’ll have food prepped for them ahead of time).
- What do I need to buy?
Bonus tip: if you experience an intense craving during your cleanse (say for brownies) do something physical to get into your body like push-ups, jumping jacks or taking a walk around the block.
4. Incorporate more kapha balancing spring foods into your diet
Winter foods are heavy, oily and sweet, which are great for keeping you grounded during the cold, dark months but once spring comes, it’s time to shift to lighter, fresh, bitter foods. This will help your body to naturally let go of winter weight. Some great foods to favor include:
- fresh bitter greens
- cruciferous veggies (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower)
- citrus fruits
- all beans (except soy & kidney)
- corn, millet, quinoa
- yogurt (spiced), goat milk
- chicken, salmon, venison
Note: If you’re underweight, gassy, constipated or experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety go easy on the list above and be sure to cook your veggies well and make sure your food is moist.
- Make a shopping list of spring foods and stock your pantry!
5. Care for your sinuses to prevent colds and reduce mucous
If you’re unfamiliar with these practices, they might seem weird but that’s exactly why you should try them out.
New things -> new experiences -> new results.
Do neti pot daily.
Flush your sinuses with salt and clean water using a neti pot.You can see a video for how to do it on Web MD.
I prefer to do this in the morning to clean out gunk that accumulated in my nasal passageways during sleep but if you’re exposed to a lot of pollution, dust or sick people during the day, you may want to use your neti pot before bed.
You can buy a neti pot at most pharmacies or on Amazon. I recommend you also buy salt packets (like these that you can find at Fred Meyer) that make it easy to get the right amount of salt. Avoid using random salt from the kitchen without doing research to see if it’s appropriate.
If you find that doing neti daily is too much, then do it every other day.
Use nasya oil daily.
At it’s most basic, nasya oil is simply a high quality oil that you sniff up your nose. Here’s a video showing you how to do it.
Nasya hydrates, lubricates and delivers natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of the oil to your nasal passages. You can use organic sesame or sunflower oil. You can also get a medicated nasya oil that has extra properities, like this one from Banyan Botanicals.
A word of caution: Don’t do neti and nasya at the same time. Do one in the morning and the other at night.
Doing these 5 things will not only unfurl your capacity for self-transformation but will also affirm your commitment to your own well-being and growth. Happy trails!
PS . For extra support, here’s a download for a Kapha Tip Sheet (pdf) that you can print out and put on your fridge.