Mistakes are my biggest teachers… and I bet they’re yours too (whether you know it or not)…
There are SO many things I never really paid attention to before Ayurveda and the seasons were definitely one of them (I can blame growing up in California for some of it since it rarely felt like we had seasons).
But one of the biggest and most profound lessons I’ve learned from ayurveda is that no matter how subtle the difference between the seasons is where you are, there’s a beauty to dancing with them that can change the way you see (and experience) everything!
For me it took moving to a place where the seasons were more defined to really start to notice the difference in how they made me feel and once I had a handle on how the more distinct seasonal differences affected me I was able to look back and realize I’d been dealing with the seasonal issues for years (perhaps just to a lesser degree).
In my mind and experience, spring and autumn are two of the most challenging seasons to manage in part because they often feel a little… transitional. Winter and summer are the “Main Event” seasons of the year aren’t they? They’re when we experience most of the highs and lows of what the environment has to offer. As human beings we’re geared to respond to extremes, and so we often move through spring and autumn like we would a hallway that takes us from one place to the next, in that kinda strange and distracted state of either anticipation or dread.
And it’s that tendency to tune out that can lead us to making food, activity and everyday living choices that are “less optimal” for our health and wellness right now and in the seasons to come. Are you making these seasonal mistakes?
If it’s spring where you are, are you…?
Dressing inappropriately for the temperatures
For lots of people, usually that first warm day means it’s time to break out the shorts and bathing suits (UK don’t get me started!). But it’s REALLY important to stay tuned into the temperatures and more importantly how they make you feel. You want to do what you can to ensure that you’re ALWAYS neither too hot nor too cold. This can be more of a challenge during the times of year like spring, when temperatures tend to fluctuate quite a bit.
What to do instead...
Clothing is a gorgeous tool for managing body temperature (it took me years to work this out!). And no matter how mild you want it to be outside (or in), choosing the right clothes for the environment, and learning how to use your wardrobe to manage your body temperature no matter where you are is definitely worth the effort for what it can do for your mind, body and spirit.
Still eating a “stodgy” comfort food diet…
One of the things I love most about winter is… comfort food. I mean who doesn’t love a good casserole when the temperatures drop. Winter is the time of year when we “go to ground”, stay in doors, focus on introspection… and cobbler. Naturally (and rightly so) our diet supports that process. But as we move through that natural cycle of grounding and transition toward renewal, we need to change our diet in order to avoid issues like weight gain, depression, digestive issues and lethargy.
What to do instead…
Shift towards a diet that is light, spicy and drier than you would have had during the winter months. Consider choosing fruits and veggies that are warming and drying (beans, leafy greens, corn, garlic, onions). Warm salads are a favorite for me during this time of year as is popcorn, and light spicy soups (think Tom Yum or vegetarian pho with rice noodles). Remember the food we eat should reflect and support our mental, emotional and physical intentions for lightness, energy and renewal this time of year. It’s time to leave the heavy, stodgy, winter fare behind.
Drinking lots of smoothies and cold drinks
According to Ayurveda there are only a few situations or times of year when it could make sense to drink ice cold drinks. Spring isn’t one of them. In fact ayurved holds that iced drinks (and fruit ladened smoothies) are even more of a no on in the spring time. Why? Because spring is Kapha time, when the prevailing energy (in our minds, bodies and environments) is heavy, slow, cold, and dulling. This can manifest as weight gain, foggy brain, depression, envy, hoarding, congestion, colds and flus, you name it, all of which can tend to stick around (or potentially even worsen) by adding more cold, heavy, slow and wet substances to the mix.
What to do instead…
Go nuts on tea! Spring time is the best for keeping drinks light, warm and spiced. Warm water with lemon and ginger, herbal, black and green teas served warm with a dash of honey (if you’re that way inclined) are a perfect counterbalance to the prevailing kapha energy that can sometimes dull your shine! So ditching the ice till the temperatures rise is the Ayurvedic strategy for keeping your mind, body and digestion light, bright and fresh.
Not taking time for detoxing and self-renewal
Self renewal..? Ain’t nobody got time for that!… is what I hear most often, and that just in my own head. With our lives as busy as they are, there is no shortage of excuses (I mean reasons), for choice we too often make to throw our own health and wellness under the bus. It’s only when we consider that self renewal is the foundation for our health and wellness (yep it will support everything you want to do and be in your life), that we can start to get our heads around the impacts of half doing it, or not doing it at all.
The reality for most of us is that we’re doing ourselves a disservice when we use burn-out and illness as signals that it’s time for self-renewal. It’s akin to running all the way out of gas, and ending up on the side of the road having to figure out what to do, instead of just refilling at the half way point and avoiding the mess of running out all together, which makes for a much happier (and smoother) journey!
What to do instead:
Ayurveda recommends detoxification twice a year as a built in reminder that you might just be at that half-way point. But no matter where you are on the health and wellness dial, committing to regular self-renewal on a regular schedule is a powerful approach to building a strong and stable foundation for wellness that will be there when you need it, and keep you going all year (and life) long!
Sooo…are you making any of these mistakes? If you used to or are still making some of these “mistakes” I’d love to hear about it! What do you find the most challenging about feeling balanced during the spring?
Oh and if it’s autumn where you are…
Stay tuned because in my next post, we’ll “fall” into the most common mistakes made during the other transitional season (just a hint, some of them are the same ).
Until then, enjoy the road you’re on…