Calming the Monkey Mind

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Recently, I noticed that I was having a harder time meditating. My kapicitta (monkey-mind) was more monkey-like than usual. I also began to notice that my skin was looking very dry and I was thirsty all the time and tending towards constipation no matter how much fiber I ate. All classic symptoms of an aggravated vata dosha (element of air in the body according to Auyrveda).

I find that doing morning pages helps calm the excessive mental chatter as does a short hike in the woods. If you are a fellow vata type, here are a additional few tips and tricks I use to calm my body and mind when vata is out of balance. .

Oil — Abhyanaga or oil massage is always great and very calming but I don’t always have time in my week to do it. My go to then becomes massaging my ears with oil and a letting a drop of oil drip into my ear canal every morning; and massaging the soles of my feet with oil every night before going to bed. Sometimes, my day is so rushed that I don’t even have the two minutes to spare for a massage Then I simply apply the oil and let my skin soak it. The oil I use is food grade mustard oil.

Pro Tip: Lay a towel under your feet to avoid oil-stains on your bed.

Meditative Focus — My daily mediation practice is a mindfulness sitting practice. When vata makes this more challenging than usual, I start with staring at a candle flame for a few minutes and then holding on that image. This helps me get centered.

Pro Tip: You can also repeat (or listen to) Om or any other mantra or repetitive sound.

Triphala— Triphala herbal tea is always good rain or shine but even more so when the weather is changing. I use a powder to make tea rather than the tablets. The whole point of triphala is to taste it. And that taste is pretty terrible when you first start taking it but you get used to it sooner than you think and as one of my favorite Ayurvedic bloggers, Nadia Marshall explains in this blog whatever you taste is what your body is deficient in.

Pro Tip — To make triphahla tea, Soak the triphala powder for about 30 minutes. Let it come to a boil and then let it boil for about twenty seconds. Strain and allow to cool before drinking.

Flower Essences — Gentle grounding and embodying flower essences like Cedar (Red Cedar and St. John’s Wort can be taken when one feels flighty. Potato is a very strong grounding essence Among Bach remedies, Scleranthus or Impatiens would be soothing. In some cases, Olive or Clematis might help as well.

Pro Tip: When choosing flower essences, combine research (Google!) with your intuition. You can either use a pendulum or go with the one you are feeling especially attracted to or which keeps popping up in your mind or around you.