Through Grace, and the humbling experience of a pilgrimage through India, I began a regular practice of meditation while pregnant with Baby Yogini. Soon after, through Grace in the form of emotional suffering via fluctuating hormones, I began a regular practice of breathing exercises, or pranayama. It was obvious that it was not of my own choosing, but it was my duty that the budding Baby Yogini received this training from the womb.
It is said that the child first learns from the mother during gestation, that many samskaras, or mental impressions, are created. I can attest that the mother also learns from the child at this time. I have said that she is the reason I embarked on this path. I can teach her many things of the world, but if she does not learn how to keep herself healthy and learn to listen to her intuition, no amount of education will be of benefit. So we begin her education, with the education of myself.
We began by creating space to introduce healthy eating practices into our home and our routine. We continue the education by preparing the sense organs to effectively process what information our senses relay to the body. If the sense of taste and smell tell us food is rotten and will not be beneficial to consume, it will be of no use if our nose and tongue are not in proper working order. I think of these practices like tune ups for our cars. They help us navigate our experience more efficiently.
This day in age there are innumerable options on which we can focus our attention. It is taught in Ayurveda that one of the three major causes of disease is the misuse of our senses. For our eyes we have the options of Netflix, Hulu, Sling and 1000s of programs for entertainment on our TV set alone. For our tongue we have 1000s of nicely packaged food items. It seems we have all been afflicted by the classic Chinese curse – May you live in interesting times. There is so much to focus our attention on. So much that can be of interest to our senses. The curse is learning how to properly navigate these sense explorations.
In my path, I have noticed that the mediation practice helped to clear my thoughts of old habits and created space so I could introduce more beneficial habits. I added the practice daily self-care in early November, including the practice of Abhyanga.
My morning routine now consists of 15 minutes of mediation, using Japa Yoga, 15 minutes of breathing exercises (pranayama), a few sun salutations and I’ve recently added a head stand as an added physical exercise to quiet the mind. This is the practice of mental purification.
From there I practice physical self-care in the form of an eye wash (Chakshu Dhauti), to clean the sense organ of the eyes so we can see clearly, nasal cleansing (Jala Neti) to purify the sense organ of the nose so we can smell clearly, and tongue cleansing (Jihva Dhauti) to purify the sense organ of the tongue. The tongue scraping helps not only to purify the sense of taste, but also to stimulate digestion. It is said that brushing the tongue only pushes the ama, or waste build-up, back into the tongue, rather than releasing it, hence the recommendation of scraping vs brushing.
Finally, at the end of the day I take the time to practice Abhanyga, or self-oil, to purify the sense of touch and rejuvenate the sense organ of the skin. It is a lovely way to close the day.
It is taught in Ayurveda that it is only with proper use of the senses can we be free of disease. These practices help to purify the sense organs so we can be more in tune with our surroundings and more discriminative of how we use these sense organs.
So what have I noticed in the past month? Well, first of all, I am completely surprised that we have managed to fit this into our schedules with relative ease. And to be honest, I don’t feel any busier than I did before I added an extra hour of practice into my life. It is by Grace that we as a family have built a lifestyle that supports these types of practices.
I am happy to keep learning. I know that one day these practices will help Baby Yogini leave the nest with confidence and ease. She will have the tools at her disposal to navigate this confusing world and learn whatever it is she is here to learn.
Onto another week of learning… Another week of adventures!