Hi! I hope you’re doing well!
In this post, I’m taking a quick look at the Vata dosha and how it interacts with the mind. The Ayurvedic perspective gives us a pretty simple framework to understand mental well being that you can use to observe and influence your own state of mind.
Ultimately, the more you can understand yourself, the greater your ability to make choices that bring you a greater sense of balance.
How do you know when you have Vata in the mind?
Here’s a quick list of some common indicators:
- Easily distracted
- Tendency to worry or get overwhelmed
- Space out
- Have a hard time reaching goals or finishing projects
- Tendency to think about the same things over and over
- Anxious, worried
- Panicky, easily startled
- Consuming lots of news or social media
Any of these sound familiar?
Understanding the qualities of vata in the mind
In Ayurveda, we use the doshas to understand patterns in nature and the 5 elements of nature to understand qualities of the doshas.
The elements of air and ether govern the vata dosha. Think lightness (lack of weight), movement (like wind), emptiness. A gust of wind whipping through the trees. The cold vastness of outer space.
Limitlessness, no boundaries, no container, no anchor.
Qualities that balance vata
When it comes to balancing, the key thing to remember is to balance with the opposite.
The elements that balance vata seek to reduce the intensity of the wind (air) and bring stability to the space (ether). The opposites of these are:
Earth: earth provides grounding, firmness, support. It’s about being slow and deliberate like a large boulder, fixed in place for centuries.
Water: water fills empty space, creating a nurturing environment evoking the comfort of the womb.
What this looks like in the real world
When you can name your symptoms and understand their elements, you can then choose activities that balance those symptoms.
Vata symptoms in the mind are your signal to slow down, simplify and get grounded.
Here are some powerful suggestions:
1. Quiet the mind
- Decrease input drastically (phone, tv, radio, reading, talking, doing activities)
- Sit in silence
- Do daily guided meditation or yoga nidra
- Watch the snow fall
- Leave time open in your schedule for nothing
2. Soothe the body
- Sleep more (go to bed earlier, take healthy naps)
- Self-massage daily with essential oils you love
- Warm baths
- Relaxing yoga or other quiet movement
3. Nourish connections
- Connect with positive people; allow stressful relationships to drop away
- Deepen spiritual interests/practices
- Incorporate small acts of love into your day
- Spend time in nature
Exercise to decrease vata in the mind
Working with the breath (pranayama) is a great way to calm the winds of the mind. I’ve included a video below to a super simple breath called ujjayi that will be familiar to yogis. Feel free to do another breath calming breath exercise that works for you.
- Do this breath every afternoon for 21 days
- Add a reminder on your phone for the same time every day
- Start at 1 minute, then build up
- Be consistent and forgiving!
Best of luck and let me know how it goes!