Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Strolling into the hustle and bustle of my favorite diner in Lake Erie after a five hour drive, my boyfriend and I are very hungry and ready to get out on the boat. There is an underlying irritation already present as I hear a very loud waitress brush past me yelling at a customer that left to come back and give her a hug goodbye. I immediately judge in my mind how inappropriate it is considering how busy the place is as she brushes back into me loudly screeching a sentiment to a fellow waitress. I know most of the servers at this place because we come here twice a year. She is new. I glance over to my boyfriend and I say, “She will be our waitress.” He glances back at me quizzically and I begin to practice some deep breathing. I am well aware that irritation is my emotion to master in this lifetime and the universe is always ready and willing to give me plenty of opportunities to do so. We are rushed to a table and seated. As I return from the bathroom the waitress that I predicted is now taking our order. Food has been a bit of a struggle for me in the last few years as I have transitioned from a meat eater to plant based. I am not fanatical but eating out rises up a lot of emotions for me because there are so little plant based options when eating out and I take my food quite seriously, maybe even too seriously. Working on it. I order the mushroom sandwich without cheese which lands in front of me with plenty of Swiss. My partner doesn’t get his drink throughout his entire meal as the waitress finally brings his drink and spills an entire glass of water down into my purple jumpsuit so hard that it splashes all over my face. Boiled blood. And fast. Too fast to focus on the breathe the fire is lit immediately and the look on my face shows it. I walk in so much compassion these days but I can’t slow the time around fire to catch control during some of these lessons that are bestowed upon me. I begin sopping it up with my one little napkin as I feel the girls presence back to my side with a towel. I glance up and tears are coming out of her eyes. She is silently heaving. Oh boy. This is a lesson I failed drastically. I reach up and touch her shoulder and softly say, “Honey, it’s water, truly. All is okay. I am so sorry sweetheart.” This was the beginning of a weekend trip that sunk like the titanic. How much energy does a moment like this steal. It seems to take it all these days with me.
Before it’s too late, how do we get ahead of the rush of it all. Anger at the very heart of it happens faster than any emotionality. The essence of anger is fire and it consumes and transforms. If we do not shine the light of awareness on it quickly, we can easily burn bridges, ending relationships and jobs and hurting people in ways that will plant seeds of longterm resentment and distrust.
I believe that the more aware that we become, the more intense and even predictable our lessons can be. We are held to a higher standard when we are doing a lot of self study. The lessons come when we need them and and sometimes during challenging time. Pema Chodran says “Lean into the sharp points and fully experience them.” Our emotions can be direction of light for showing us the work that we need to do on ourselves. It can be so easy for us to stay in our patterns when we do not learn how to take these small signs to get ourself back on the path. If our intention or true wish for ourselves is to become a better human being, then this is work that we must do.
I noticed how easily I got through the death of my best friend, allowing myself to be a strong rock to all around me during these times with just one small cry second day after funeral. I believe that I was silently patting myself on the back for how well I got through this dark hour. Feeling that I was capable of anything, until the reckoning arrived in a suitcase of unfinished business. I fell apart on the first time that I had let myself get away for a weekend without appointments, clients, and hustling around in my business. This is when that precious girl in the restaurant came in the cloak of my lesson to show me just how out of check I was with my suppressed grief. I truly believed that if i was doing the meditations and hitting yoga every day and saying my prayers and walking in good intent, that I was moving through. I wasn’t. I needed to cry, i needed to decompress and realize the full blow of my friend’s death. And the sadness of how it came about. It was heavy, way heavy. I had been running on fumes for a week, not sleeping well and avoiding my feelings with anything but the realization of such pain. Life hurts sometimes. I needed to go through those cutting moments when I found myself seething underneath the facade in moments of tension. These moments need to be realized and addressed.
Lethargy, that deepens can move into depression and this can be quite dangerous for people who do not move for long periods of time. Anger is a higher vibration. People still are holding power, but irritability can become dangerous when ignored. The two emotions, as different as they are, both have a complexity of their own. Normally when irritability is running below the surface it has a potential of a sudden and unexpected flash fire or explosion. We need to water it down, or ground it, maybe turn it into some steam. The potential is incredible and it deserves respect. Irritability can be turned to compassion, or to work focus, or to leadership if we have use our practice to see it as it is arising and to understand how to transmute it. Fire transforms our food into fuel, ashes into fertilizer, and old structures and belief systems into progressive change and new ways of thinking for a better future. It can clear the path for the sweet rebirthing of the Autumn. It is the entrance to the inward path of the forest. As lethargy must be moved before it slows to an immovable halt, irritability must be transformed before it burns a bridge or blazes a forest to wasteland.
It is a Monday and client treads into my loft. I can feel her irritation immediately. it is palpable. She has a forceful presence and tension in her jawline. I can tell she has a lot going on. Im going to give her some extra love today beginning with a couple of drops of rose and orange in her massage oil. During our session, as I softly ease into her energy field, she submits that she is stressed due to overwork, family issues and a rash that will not reside. Rashes in general are a sign of too much fire in the body. This needs to be softened, tamed. I asked her if I could ask some personal questions just to see if I was on track with my intuition. She reveals that she is struggling with severe diarrhea. Another symptom of excess fire. As an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, It is satisfying in my practice to be able to give my clients soft guidance on how to tame imbalances with the ease and availability of Ayurveda. A simple Doshic system based on the elements that is aligned with Mother Nature and the seasons. A practice that guides a light on curable imbalances made simple with the knowledge of habits and nourishment that are available at the local market or back yard in your herb garden. The simplicity of a tea or a tonic. A lifestyle change. After a few more questions we decided that her two glasses of wine a night should be omitted until she is balanced. I discussed food and easy garden herbs she could put into her sauces and smoothies for a while. I also gave her some alternatives for an evening Mocktail to drink that would be healthy and delightful as she settles out of work mode in lei of alcohol, which will add to the heat in her body. Cold fruit infused water in hand to go and she walked much easily out of my loft. I even saw her take a deep breathe and soften her shoulders. I realized that she already felt better. A week later, she let me know that she was back into balance and she was a bit baffled at the simplicity. And also grateful. When people realize how powerful they are in their own healing it is the beginning of a beautiful path to wellness. The only shame in these practices are that they are not common knowledge. They will never be as long as profit is the structure that wellness is based on. This is why empowering yourself is necessary as we explore and discover the arts of these practices using this incredible time of the information age.
What are the signs that you are going out of balance in Pitta? Headache at the top of the head or behind the eyes that have a feeling of heat to them. Diarrhea, overactive bowels. Irritable bowels, rashes, styes in the eye, inflammation that comes on sharply and has the spirit of heat behind them. Sharp and red and inflamed. Hemorrhoids can come about from too much heat in the body.You may feel yourself clenching. Irritation that is bubbling right under the surface. You may feel it in your stomach or around your chest, along the jaw line. Try to soften a few times a day. Check yourself. Get in touch with what heat feels like in the body, in your sacred temple.
How do we cool and soothe. How can we be ahead of anger. How can we walk in life when we are running hot ? Here are TEN ways to cool yourself down when Pitta arises so that you can be ahead of the game on the fire before it spreads uncontrollably!!
1. Summer in itself is fire. So during summer we hare surrounded by the sun’s intensity. This may be the time that you will avoid your hotter habits. Take the heating blankets and the heating pads out of your life till Autumn with the first chilly evening. Avoid saunas and sunbathing if you find yourself becoming irritable. The second week of spring, during my favorite Hot Yoga Class that had carried me through winter, my chest felt so heavy that I had to leave twenty minutes into the flow. When the instructor texted me later that evening to check on me, i told her I would see her in the Fall. Intense Vinyasa, hot room, and summer combined was simply too much fire. My body can only handle so much heat. I still take a couple heated classes a week but they are gentle yoga so it feels so nourishing and rich without the nausea. Ice cold showers can alkalize the body in the evening when you feel overheated or energize the body in the mornings. Walks in the forest can feel steamy and cooling in the summer. I love the feeling of being out in the forest when the coolness of the earth mixed with the fire of the sun creates a steam bath during hiking. Super great for the skin.
2. Gentle Yoga practices are a lovely asset to summer. Any practice that softens your disposition. Restorative, Yin, Gentle. One on ones with a trusted teacher. In your daily practice this may be a time to soften your edges. Less Sun Salutations, longer holds in your poses. Deeper connection to breathe. Perhaps an entire practice in seated position. Or just focus on balancing and some rotation of the joints. Think in terms of lightness, air, simplicity. Soft, light, and sweet. When out of balance with fire, you will want to avoid intensity and edge.
3. Herbs and vegetables. Take some mint leaves from your garden or local market and cut off at the stems. Place in a mason jar full of water on your counter. It is so pretty and also you can clip or tear off a few and pop into your salads, sauces, smoothies and iced drinks. Parsley detoxes and mint cools. Diffusing cooling teas are a great way to balance heat. Add fruit, hibiscus, all of the delights of the garden. Cucumbers are an essential during summer. Place two on your eyes and lay back and take a breather when feeling out of sorts. Coconut, lime, watermelon are all essentials in the summer. This is not the season for beer and wing night if you are feeling flushed.
4. Essential oils, all day long. All of the mint family cools. So pepperment, wintergreen, spearmint. Lavender is calming and cooling and an adaptogen so it is good for every imbalance, including excess of heat. Eucalyptus, vetiver, and sandalwood. Think of sweet, light, and earthy. Nothing too exotic or intense. I am really enjoying two drops of pachouli and four drops of lime right now. The combination hits all of the right notes to take any irritation down a notch.
5. Teas and Tonics I actually have cucumbers in my Farmers Market Tea. It is my best selling summer blend! I seep three heaping tablespoons in three cups of hot water and then pour into my pitcher and fill to the top with water. Just add ice and a little agave nectar if you like. Hydration should be FUN. It is always a party. avoid alcohol, if you are going to drink and it is a must, try to stick to a sweet dachari or one cold draft beer, saving the wine and the hard liquor for colder months.
6. Inner Artist work. Bringing in your inner artist will temper down any irritation. Dance around your home as you are cleaning up with loud techno or jazzy vibes or take an artistic expression class. If your community doesn’t have one, start one. Make a great playlist and invite people over. Invite the ethereal into your practice. Paint or draw a picture. Go to a picture painting event with friends. Write a poem. Take time out to do the things that you love. What speaks to your heart. Remember that every single one of us has artistic expression. Our culture does not encourage this but we all do have the ability to create beauty around us. Sing Mantra. Michelle Goldstein has many beautiful artistic yoga flows on Youtube on her Heart Alchemy channels. This is my favorite style of yoga in my personal practice.
7. Fur babies. Our animals can bring us into the now. A million moments in a day reminding us to be grateful. Even ending to their needs can give us habits that pull us back from irritation and overthinking. For even the busiest of people, a cat can be an easy companion to have in your home. My precious Ava has been a comfort to me for thirteen years. Dogs on the other hand are a lot more work but oh so worth it. If you are a strong person of routine, a dog can be many things to you, including your personal trainer, a beloved friend who listens, and a sense of sweetness and comfort that tames any fires that overwork and stress can bring into your life. If you do go the route of getting an animal, please check out the local shelters and rescues. There are so many beloved animals in these shelters that need homes and will love you to the moon and back for giving them a sweet space to live their life. Check out Sierra’s Haven and Cabin Critters Rescue for two local gems that we have here in Portsmouth.
8. Ayurvedic Time Clock. My favorite way to live in ease daily is to follow the Ayurvedic Time Clock. Awakening before six am can keep acid balanced in the body. If you are a late sleeper try inching your wake up time up by five minutes every other day until you awaken closer to the 6 am time frame. This can be life changing for elevating your moods based on circadian rhythms. Eat your largest meal between and 11 am and 1 pm. Pasta, huge salads, all the yummy carbs. This hour is the time that acid is highest in the gut and the body will convert the heaviest of foods straight to fuel. Also in the afternoon between 2 and 6 pm, take some time to write, or meditate and reflect. Afternoon is your most creative hour. Look outside to see that the birds are singing at this time. Slowly pull in luscious evening habits that you can look forward to. Leave the wine alone and pull out your massage oils or some soft music and a good book. Make evening time a time for sweet loving habits. Have a cup of tea in the evening. The art of tea is a beloved dinacharya and a game changer when tempering fire.
9. Eat the cake. Pinterest offers the most amazing dessert recipes in plant based options now. The first time that I made plant based brownies I was shocked. They were the best that I ever had. The art of cooking something special and decadent can be a great way to settle in to your evening. Why not have dessert for dinner on the longest workday of the week. Look forward to this act. You can work all day for it. One evening a week I offer up the most decadent dessert that I can imagine . Bananas are one of my favorite options for sweet nourishment when I feel overheated. A grilled banana and peanut butter sandwich with a glass of nut milk can set your evening straight. Or frozen bananas in the fridge for Nicecream can be the perfect meal or dessert throughout the week. I make Nicecream every Saturday and Sunday evening for my partner and I. It is our favorite weekend treat. When we realize that there is no limitations on what we want in life, we realize the things we want will change. Being in a good place comes from allowing ourselves to have everything we want, but just creating space for loving yourself. This inset will change your life. Love yourself through food, and truly love yourself. A big piece of chocolate cake that you have made with your heart will go along way in your week. It is the difference between eating bad all week and the piece of cake bringing more sadness to your life opposed to creating structure and habits so that when you do eat the cake, it feels amazing.
10. Sweet Circles of Friends. How do you feel when you are around your closest alliances. Is there anyone in your circle that you feel drained or depleted around? Spend less time there. Remember that you do not owe anyone anything. You owe yourself. You owe yourself space. You owe yourself love. Be around people that raise you up. Raise them up back. Declutter relationships. There will always be people that we must be around that can drain us in family and work. Limit and structure this time. We also live in the age that we can reach out to groups of people online for support. I love so many of my sober groups online. I have made friends all over the work via Facebook. I also have many channels of friends through my Ayurvedic Circles. The world is your oyster. Be the person that you know you are inside and reach out to like minded individuals. The world is at your fingertips. We are fortunate to have freedom. Freedom in everything we do including the people we surround ourself with.
Remember to love yourself so much that you walk in a light that nourishes you, protects you, and gives you vibrancy, high energy, and a loving heart. Stay on this most gorgeous path and as always, Make LIFE your Medicine!!!
*always check with your standing Physician or Nurse Practitioner for deeper advice. Ayurveda is here to compliment your other medical practices. Consult your Doctor before taking any steps that you feel uncertain about concerning your precious health !