How I Used Ayurveda To Overcome Depression And Discover My True Self
Embracing ancient wisdom healed my battle scars from modern work and life
About six years ago, my life was grand on paper, but I was at a crossroads.
I was in my early 30s, had a high-profile job at a major company, was in the best shape of my life, and was surrounded by family and friends. Yet I was depressed and miserable. I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning and I cried every day. I felt like poison was running through my veins.
Looking back on that time, it’s clear that I felt this way because the life I was living was not the life I really wanted…it was the life I had convinced myself I wanted. I was miserable because my true self was screaming to get out.
To this day, I remain grateful for this painful period because it led me to finally get the help I needed. By talking through my depression with a trained professional, I began to see that I had to make concrete changes in my life if I wanted to get better. I needed to open myself up to new things. So, to coincide with my hard work in the therapist’s office, I started seeking out experiences I had never tried before.
That’s when I found Ayurveda.
It all started when I signed up for a vegetarian cooking class, which turned out to be an Ayurvedic cooking class. The food was fresh and delicious, and I quickly realized it was the type of thing my body wanted me to eat.
With that experience under my belt, I became obsessed with figuring out my dosha. The three Ayurvedic doshas — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha — are energies that govern the human body. We all hold each of the doshas within us, but each individual harbors a unique combination of the three. Typically, two are more dominant (one physically and one mentally), but this is a broad generalization as everyone is different.
But figuring out your dosha combination isn’t as easy as you think, as I learned when I started trying to uncover mine back in 2014. Your dosha comes in a natural state called prakriti (think of it as your Ayurvedic DNA) and a present state called vikriti. Your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits all cause your vikriti to deviate from your prakriti.
What most people don’t understand when they’re introduced to Ayurveda is that to uncover your true self, or prakriti, you first have to balance your current state, or vikriti.
For me, that meant overcoming a severe Vata imbalance. Vata is characterized by mobile, cold, light, dry, rough, and hard energies. My diet of light salads and juices and my lifestyle as an avid runner who was always anxious and high-strung fed this cold, hard dosha. Welcome to a Vata imbalance.
To tame my Vata, my Ayurveda practitioner told me to stop eating cold, raw juices and salads and start cooking my vegetables and foods with healthy oils instead. I traded in my half-marathons for yoga and Pilates. After a few weeks, I felt more clear-headed, calm, and focused. My Vata was finally under control, and my Pitta and Kapha could emerge to bring balance into my life.
By shifting my lifestyle and deepening my understanding of my true self, I’ve discovered that Ayurveda is all about the journey, not the destination.
The practice continues to help me discover new parts of myself constantly. I get one step closer to uncovering my true self every day, and I can honestly say that I’m happier and healthier than I ever have been.
Originally published at www.mindbodygreen.com on June 17, 2016.