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How To Turn Skincare Into a Sacred Self-Care Ritual

We’ve all heard of skincare as self-care, but in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, where time slips through our fingers like sand, it can be challenging to find moments of solace and self-nurturing. That’s where mindfulness steps in. Amidst the chaos, our skincare routine can emerge as a sanctuary—a sacred ritual that extends beyond surface-level beauty. In this exploration, we delve into the profound connection between skincare and self-care, weaving in mindfulness practices and ancient-inspired rituals that elevate the essence of our well-being.

The Ritual of Cleansing

As the sun gently kisses the dawn or bids adieu to the day, the ritual of cleansing becomes a mindful journey. In the morning, it’s more than washing away the night; it’s a symbolic act of shedding yesterday’s burdens. Embrace the sensation of water, the touch of cleanser on your skin – each motion a gesture of renewal. Drawing inspiration from ancient cleansing rituals, consider infusing your routine with intention. Perhaps envision the water carrying away any negativity, leaving behind a canvas ready for the day’s artistry.

A Sacred Unveiling

In the realm of skincare, the cleansing ritual stands as a cornerstone—an intimate dance between you and your skin, a moment to shed the layers that accumulate through the day or night. Let’s delve deeper into this sacred act, exploring the tools, products, and the transformative benefits it bestows upon the skin.

Tools of Purification

Consider your choice of cleansing tools as instruments of care. From the simplicity of your hands, a vessel of touch and connection, to the luxurious softness of facial cleansing brushes, each tool imparts a unique sensation. Ancient traditions often employed natural materials like muslin or bamboo for their cleansing rituals. Modern adaptations include konjac sponges, a nod to the Japanese tradition of using konjac root for its gentle exfoliating properties.

Products as Elixirs of Renewal

The products you choose for cleansing become elixirs, infusing the ritual with therapeutic properties. From creamy cleansers reminiscent of ancient milk and honey baths to oil cleansers inspired by the wisdom of double cleansing from Korean skincare, each product tells a story. Aromatherapy joins the journey with botanical-infused cleansers, awakening the senses and turning the act of cleansing into a sensorial experience.

The Alchemy of Cleansing

As the water cascades over your face, carrying away impurities, it is not just a physical cleansing but a symbolic act of purification. The gentle massage of the cleanser invigorates the skin, promoting blood circulation and oxygenation. Ancient cultures often associated water with renewal and rebirth—consider the Japanese Misogi ritual, a waterfall purification practice symbolizing a spiritual cleanse.

Benefits Unveiled

The benefits of a mindful cleansing ritual are manifold. Firstly, it sets the stage for subsequent skincare steps, preparing the skin to absorb the goodness of serums and moisturizers more effectively. Cleansing removes excess oil, sweat, and environmental pollutants, preventing congestion and supporting the skin’s natural regeneration process.

Moreover, the act of cleansing is an act of self-respect. It communicates to your skin that you honor and care for it, fostering a positive relationship with your body. Beyond the physical, the ritual holds the potential to be a moment of mindfulness, a pause in the chaos of life.

How to Turn Skincare into Self-Care

Nourishing the Temple

Our skin is a reflection of our internal well-being, and the importance of hydration and nutrition cannot be overstated. Beyond topical treatments, the foundation of radiant skin lies in nourishing from within. As you sip your morning herbal tea or relish a nutrient-packed smoothie, consider it a mindful act of self-love. In ancient traditions, the concept of beauty elixirs was revered—infusions of nature’s bounty believed to enhance vitality and radiance. Today, we echo this wisdom through superfood-rich diets and skin-loving nutrients.

Feeding Your Skin’s Soul

Once the canvas is cleansed, the sacred ritual of nourishing begins—a journey where skincare becomes a feast for the skin, a banquet of hydration and nutrients. Let’s explore the customs and practices of infusing nourishment into your skincare routine, drawing inspiration from ancient wisdom and modern revelations.

Hydration as Elixir

In many ancient traditions, water is revered as a source of life and pureness. The concept extends to skincare, where hydration is the elixir that quenches the skin’s thirst. Begin this nourishing journey with a hydrating toner, echoing the rituals of floral water spritzing in ancient cultures. Incorporate practices from Ayurveda, where the cooling properties of rose water or the rejuvenating touch of sandalwood water are celebrated.

The Art of Treatment

Treating skin with topicals and touch is not just a physical act but a symbolic embrace of self-love. Caress your skin with your hands, using salves or tools like you would anoint a sacred vessel. Consider the practices of facial gua sha—a Chinese technique that involves gentle scraping motions with a thin smooth stone, promoting lymphatic drainage and enhancing product absorption. Picture each stroke as a gesture of care, sculpting your skin with intention.

Ancient Beauty Elixirs

Explore the world of ancient beauty elixirs, where oils and potions were treasured as gifts from nature. In Ayurveda, sesame oil has been revered for its nourishing properties. Embrace the wisdom of the Egyptians, anointing your skin with the liquid gold of argan oil. Anoint your skin with the supernutrients contained in a precious bottle of Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil from Humanist Beauty. These elixirs are more than skincare; they are invitations to connect with the wisdom of the ancients, infusing your routine with timeless beauty.

Mindful Eating for Radiance

Extend the concept of nourishment beyond topical applications. What you consume reflects on your skin. In Ayurveda, the belief is that radiant skin comes from a balanced diet. Incorporate antioxidant-rich foods like berries, leafy greens, and nuts into your meals. In the spirit of mindful eating, savor each bite, recognizing that what you ingest contributes to the radiance you seek.

Cultural Nourishing Traditions

Across cultures, there are unique nourishing traditions that go beyond skincare. In Korea, the practice of “hannamubi” involves applying the essence of boiled rice water to the skin for a luminous complexion. In Japan, the consumption of collagen-rich foods like fish and seaweed is celebrated for its skin-plumping effects. Integrate these customs into your routine, weaving a tapestry of global beauty wisdom.

As you nourish your skin, consider it an act of reciprocity. Your skin, like a sacred temple, deserves offerings of love, kindness, and nutrients. Let the practices of hydrating, moisturizing, and embracing ancient elixirs be more than skincare steps; let them be rituals of nourishment, feeding not just your skin but your soul.

Herban Wisdom Facial Oil

The Art of Mindful Moisturizing

After the canvas is cleansed and the skin is nourished, the journey of self-care continues with the art of mindful moisturizing—a deliberate and intentional act that transcends mere hydration. Moisturizing is more than just a step in the routine; it’s a gesture of self-preservation. In this section, we’ll delve into the intricacies of this ritual, exploring techniques, products, and the profound benefits it imparts to your skin and soul.

Rituals of Moisture

Imagine moisturizing not as a routine task but as a sacred dance, a symphony of touch and intention. Begin with a moment of mindfulness. Pause and appreciate the vessel that is your body. Acknowledge the journey your skin has undertaken from cleansing to nourishment. Let this awareness infuse the act of moisturizing with a sense of gratitude and connection. Consider incorporating specific gestures into your ritual. Picture a gentle pressing motion, like the petals of a flower unfolding, as you apply your moisturizer. Alternatively, indulge in a self-massage, taking the time to knead tension away from your face, neck, and décolletage. These deliberate movements elevate the moisturizing ritual from a mundane task to a transformative experience.

Techniques of Tranquility

Mindful moisturizing is about more than just slathering on a product—it’s about engaging with your skin in a way that fosters relaxation and tranquility. Begin with deep, intentional breaths. As you apply the moisturizer, synchronize your breath with your movements, creating a rhythmic flow that calms the mind. Explore the technique of acupressure, pressing specific points on the face associated with relaxation and rejuvenation. As your fingers trace these points, envision stress melting away, leaving room for a serene glow to emerge. Combine this with the use of jade rollers or gua sha tools, encouraging lymphatic drainage and promoting a sense of well-being.

Choosing Sacred Elixirs

Selecting the right moisturizer is akin to choosing a sacred elixir for your skin. Consider products with natural, botanical ingredients that resonate with your senses. Infusions of chamomile, lavender, or rose not only nourish the skin but also engage your olfactory senses in a sensory journey. Incorporate traditional beauty oils like jojoba, squalane, or rosehip seed oil. These oils, reminiscent of ancient beauty elixirs, provide deep hydration and lend a touch of luxury to your routine. The act of anointing your skin with these precious oils becomes a ceremony, a communion between you and the timeless wisdom of natural ingredients.

Benefits of Mindful Moisturizing

Beyond the surface-level benefits of hydration, mindful moisturizing offers a cascade of advantages. The intentional touch and massage can improve blood circulation, promoting a healthy complexion. The act of mindful breathing during this ritual reduces stress, contributing to a calmer mind and, consequently, a relaxed visage.

Emotionally, this practice nurtures a positive relationship with your body. It becomes a self-affirming act—a moment where you acknowledge the beauty of your skin and express gratitude for the vessel that carries you through life. Mindful moisturizing becomes an anchor, grounding you in the present and fostering a deeper connection with your inner self.

How to Turn Skincare into Self-Care

Serenity in Skincare: Face Masks and Meditation

Enter the realm of serenity by intertwining skincare with meditation. Applying a face mask becomes a meditative practice, a pause button for the mind. Picture the mask as a shield, guarding not only your skin but also your peace. Drawing inspiration from ancient mask rituals, where beauty and spirituality intertwined, let this modern adaptation be a bridge to inner tranquility. This section explores the profound connection between these two practices, each enhancing the other to weave a tapestry of tranquility for your skin and soul.

The Ritual of Masking: A Gateway to Stillness

Face masks are not mere skincare products; they are gateways to stillness—a pause in the daily hustle to indulge in self-care. Choosing a face mask becomes a mindful act, an intentional selection based on your skin’s needs and your desire for serenity. For the most conscious mask choice, opt for a rinse-off or leave-on formula—avoid ever using single-use sachets or disposable non-woven cloth masks.

Customizing the Experience

Consider customizing your masking experience to align with your emotional state. Opt for a calming lavender-infused rinse-off mask for moments of stress, or choose a brightening citrus overnight leave-on mask when you seek an invigorating lift. The selection process becomes a conscious decision to address both your skin’s requirements and your emotional well-being.

Application as a Ritual

Applying a face mask becomes a ritual of self-love. As you paint the mask onto your skin, visualize it as a protective shield, guarding not just your physical complexion but also your mental and emotional well-being. Let each stroke be deliberate, a gesture of care and devotion to yourself.

Meditation in the Mask: Finding Stillness Amidst the Clay

The application of a face mask is not merely a waiting period; it’s an opportunity for meditation. Picture the mask as a cocoon, a space of transformation and rejuvenation. As the mask dries or settles into your skin, enter a state of mindfulness.

Guided Meditation

Consider incorporating guided meditation into your masking ritual. Apps or online platforms offer short meditation sessions tailored to the time it takes for your mask to work its magic. Focus on your breath, the sensation of the mask on your skin, and visualize each inhale bringing in positivity and each exhale releasing tension.

Body Scan Meditation

Engage in a body scan meditation, directing your attention to each part of your body. As you move your awareness from head to toe, imagine the mask drawing out not just impurities from your skin but also stress and fatigue from your entire being.

Ancient Mask Rituals and Modern Adaptations

The practice of using masks for beauty and well-being dates back centuries across various cultures. From the renowned clay masks of ancient Egypt to the soothing yogurt masks of Ayurveda, these rituals have stood the test of time.

Modern Adaptations with Natural Clays

Incorporate ancient inspirations into your modern routine using different types of masks. Embrace the purifying properties of Bentonite clay, revered for its detoxifying abilities in rinse-off masks. Kaolin clay, a gentle option, mirrors the softness of ancient masks used in rituals of self-purification. Rhassoul clay, inspired by traditional Moroccan practices, provides deep cleansing while preserving the skin’s natural moisture in overnight leave-on masks.

Honey Masks and Beyond

Honey masks, while not a vegan option, have been used since ancient times for their soothing, antibacterial properties.  Aloe masks offer skin-soothing hydration that helps to calm and quench dry, sensitive skin. The choice of mask becomes a bridge connecting you to the timeless wisdom of beauty rituals, where each natural ingredient carries the essence of ancient traditions.

Benefits Beyond the Surface

Beyond the visible benefits of clearer, brighter skin, the combination of face masks and meditation offers holistic advantages. The stillness cultivated during the masking process extends beyond the ritual itself, fostering a sense of calm that lingers in your daily life.

As you remove the mask, envision shedding not just impurities but also the burdens of the day. This practice becomes a reminder that self-care is not a luxury but a necessity—a moment to find serenity in the sanctuary of your skincare routine.

How to Turn Skincare into Self-Care

Timeless Beauty Practices from Ancient Wisdom

Ancient beauty practices are the threads that weave through time, connecting us to the wisdom of civilizations long past. This section delves into the beauty rituals of ancient cultures—Ayurveda, Chinese traditions, and Egyptian regimens—and how these timeless practices continue to inspire modern skincare routines.

Ayurvedic Wisdom: Honoring the Elements

Ayurveda, the ancient healing system from India, views beauty as an expression of inner balance. Central to Ayurveda is the concept of doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—representing the fundamental energies of the body. Embrace Ayurvedic skincare by identifying your dosha and tailoring your routine accordingly.

Balancing Act with Oils

Ayurvedic beauty rituals often involve the use of oils, such as sesame or coconut oil, to balance the doshas. First, take a test to determine your dosha, then incorporate suggested oils that align with your dosha into your routine. The Ayurvedic practice of oil cleansing or Abhyanga—a self-massage with warm oil—is a lovely way to infuse self-care into your skin care regimen. Picture each drop of oil as a nourishing potion, bringing harmony to your skin and spirit.

Ubtan: Nature’s Beauty Elixir

Ubtan, a traditional Ayurvedic mask made from herbs, spices, and grains, is a potent elixir for radiant skin. Customize your Ubtan based on your skin’s needs, embracing the therapeutic properties of ingredients like turmeric, sandalwood, and chickpea flour.

Chinese Elegance: The Harmony of Yin and Yang

Chinese beauty traditions are rooted in achieving harmony—both within the body and with the surrounding environment. Embrace the principles of Yin and Yang to cultivate balance and radiance in your skin.

Gua Sha: Sculpting Beauty from Within

Gua Sha, a Chinese facial massage technique, promotes lymphatic drainage and stimulates blood circulation. Incorporate a Gua Sha tool, often made of jade or rose quartz, into your routine. Envision it as a sculptor’s tool, shaping your facial contours and fostering a sense of inner balance.

Green Tea Elixirs

Green tea, celebrated in Chinese culture for its antioxidant properties, can be a powerful addition to your skincare routine. Use green tea-infused products or create your own green tea mask. Let the natural elixir revive your skin, mirroring the ancient reverence for this soothing beverage.

Egyptian Royalty Rituals: Gold and Essential Oils

Egyptian beauty rituals were extravagant affairs, especially among royalty. Cleopatra, the epitome of ancient Egyptian beauty, left a legacy of indulgence and opulence.

Gold-infused Elixirs

Channel the spirit of Cleopatra by incorporating gold-infused skincare. Gold is believed to promote collagen production and impart a radiant glow. Consider gold-infused serums or masks, envisioning each application as a nod to the regal beauty rituals of ancient Egypt.

Sacred Essential Oils

Essential oils, such as frankincense and myrrh, were treasured by ancient Egyptians for their aromatic and skincare benefits. Use these oils in your routine, perhaps during a calming facial massage. Picture yourself in the luxurious chambers of an ancient Egyptian queen, indulging in the scents that once graced the royal court.

Japanese Serenity: Embracing Simplicity

Japanese beauty philosophy is grounded in simplicity and respect for nature. The pursuit of “Kanso,” simplicity, guides skincare practices to enhance the skin’s natural radiance.

Double Cleansing

Double cleansing, a Japanese skincare staple, involves using an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based one. This ritual ensures thorough cleansing without stripping the skin. Picture the oils lifting away impurities, leaving your skin pristine and in harmony with nature.

Sacred Camellia Oil

Camellia oil, revered in Japan for centuries, is rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Use camellia oil as a moisturizer, appreciating its lightweight yet deeply nourishing nature. Let it be a reminder of the simplicity and elegance celebrated in Japanese skincare.

How to Turn Skincare into Self-Care

In the symphony of our daily lives, our skincare routine emerges as a harmonious melody—an intricate composition of self-care, mindfulness, and ancient wisdom. Let every drop of serum, every stroke of the jade roller, be a note in this symphony. As you unveil your radiant skin, remember that it’s not just about beauty; it’s about embracing the profound connection between caring for your skin and nurturing your soul. May your skincare ritual be a sacred journey, an ode to the beauty within, and a timeless affirmation of self-love.

What’s Your Spirit Animal?

Spirit animals are all around us – it’s just up to us whether or not we believe in their power, or whether we even notice them at all. In many Indigenous cultures, spirit animals, sometimes known as spirit guides, often refer to a spirit that helps protect or guide a person throughout life’s journey; the person and spirit animal commonly share or embody similar characteristics or qualities. In this blog, we’ll discuss the origins and modern usage of spirit animals, techniques for discovering them, along with a few common spirit animals and their symbolism.

The Origins of Spirit Animals and the American Indigenous People

It’s well documented that throughout history, the Indigenous people that inhabited North America identified deeply with all aspects of nature. In fact, numerous Indigenous individuals were named after animals; two famous examples are Chief Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

The American Indigenous people also believed in spirit animals, which were animals they shared a connection with that guided them. It was commonly thought that a person would have nine spirit animals, each serving its own purpose depending on the situation and time during that person’s life.1

Pinny Lavalier, a Sicangu Lakota volunteer at Native Languages of the Americas, says this connection with animals isn’t limited to American Indigenous beliefs. “Animals were likely important in the religions of numerous traditional societies throughout time. Many modern uses of the term often relate spirit animals solely to American Indigenous culture, which isn’t true.”2

The Present Use of Spirit Animals

In modern times, the term “spirit animal” is commonly used to express a person’s favorite kind of animal or childhood idol. For example, one might take a sloth’s characteristics – slow, sleepy – and say, “Oh, he’s my spirit animal.” However, many find that the term “spirit animal” often stereotypes Indigenous people or appropriates real religious beliefs.3

While the concept is generally the same, most tribes don’t refer to them as spirit animals, but rather as guides, messengers, or even gods, considering that Indigenous gods are personified animals. Using the term “spirit animal” can be seen as an overgeneralization of deeply personal traditions, leading to many calling them Patronus, like in Harry Potter, or kindred spirits. 

“Animals have sustained our people for thousands of years, through food and medicine and clothing,” says Renee Gokey, teacher’s services coordinator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. “Essentially, to understand the culture and significance behind spirit animals is to not appropriate but to celebrate.”4 

Techniques for Discovering Your Spirit Animal

It’s believed that spirit animals often hold particular qualities that could help you navigate life with a bit more ease, confidence, and faith. Not sure which spirit animal best represents you or what messages it’s trying to send you? Here are some techniques to help you discover your spirit animal:

Try A Meditation

Using meditation to find your spirit animal often involves attaining an altered state of consciousness by using deep imagery or visualization with the specific intention of meeting your spirit animal guide(s). These methods can be guided (spoken, drumming) or non-guided (silence, nature sounds)

You can find a guided meditation to help you discover your spirit animal here

Journal About the Animals You Feel Drawn To

Try to consider one animal that has a special significance to you. Ask yourself this question: If this animal were my spirit guide, what lessons could it be trying to teach me about my personal power and inner strength? Spend a few minutes journaling on the answer. You can complete this exercise for as many different animals as you wish. Then, come back to your journal after a few days and see which animals and lessons resonate the most with you. 

Need tips on journaling? Check out this blog on why and how journaling can improve your life.

Common Spirit Animals and Their Symbolism

There are thousands upon thousands of spirit animals, each with their own significance and symbolism, which can make it difficult to distinguish which are yours. Here is a brief introduction to the qualities of some common spirit animals:

  • The Butterfly: In many cultures, the butterfly is a symbol of transformation and development. It’s known to be incredibly adaptable by approaching all changes with ease and grace. Butterflies also carry the message of “being light” and floating above earthly matters.5
  • The Spider: Spiders are known for creating intricate webs and their patience in capturing prey, which is why these guides are here to tell us when to start building the life we want. Spiders also represent the feminine and the power behind feminine energy. If this is your guide, tap into your creative side and try to be patient with yourself.6
  • The Hummingbird:  Hummingbirds signify playfulness, connection, and adaptability. If you see a hummingbird, try to connect with the enjoyment of life by not taking things too seriously. Hummingbirds are here to remind us to be playful and that in the grand scheme of things, connections are what really matter – whether it’s with a higher power or loved ones.7
  • The Owl: Owls have the ability to see what others may miss. They know the deeper meaning of things and discover the hidden treasures in life. If the owl comes to you, you might be at a time in your life when you’re exploring the unknown – like maybe going through a transition or about to embark on a big journey. The owl can help you see beyond your mind’s illusions.8
  • The Hawk: The hawk represents truth, self-awareness, courage, and perspective. As spirit animals, hawks are known for their ability to see things from a higher perspective by recognizing the truth in any situation for what it is. If you see a hawk, it may be telling you that it’s time to take inventory of where you’re at in life and what your next steps are.9
  • The Grasshopper: Grasshoppers are innovative and don’t miss opportunities to move forward in life. Grasshoppers are also considered good luck. If you run into a grasshopper, it could be a sign that you’re struggling with a decision and it’s time to make a choice and move forward.10
  • The Eagle: Eagles represent light, spirit, and healing – healing yourself so you can connect deeply to your spiritual journey. Eagles are also known to carry the knowledge of gifts and magic from above. If an eagle is your spirit animal, it can mean that you have lightness in you, but need to stay grounded.11
  • The Crow: Crows are known for their higher perspective and “trickster” personality type. If you’ve seen a crow – whether in an awakened state or a dream – consider your connection to life’s magic. To fully embrace the crow, invite a heightened awareness into your life and try to shift your point of view to a higher perception. This will allow you to recognize the magic in everything that is happening to you and around you.12

Interested in learning more about spirit animals? Here’s a list of 102 spirit animals and their symbolism. 

In Conclusion

Spirit animals are guides that can help you on your life’s journey; they’re here to keep you on track, to show you that you’re loved, and to remind you to play, create, connect, and nurture. As you go about your day, try to be aware of your surroundings and the animals that may cross your path. You may be surprised how synchronistic these encounters can be, but knowing what these spirit animals symbolize, along with the cultures they originate from, can provide you with meaningful insight and understanding into your life’s past, present, and future happenings.

What’s your spirit animal? If you’re not sure, take this spirit animal quiz to find out. Let us know your results in the comments!

 

 

References:

https://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-totems/ [1]

https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/please-stop-using-the-term-spirit-animal [2][3][4]

https://www.spiritanimal.info/ [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Achieving Balance With Taoism

Taoism, also spelled Daoism, is a religion and a philosophy from ancient China that has influenced folk and national belief for millennia. Taoism has been connected to the philosopher Lao-Tzu who around 500 B.C.E. is thought to have written the main book of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching. Taoism holds that humans and animals should live in balance with the Tao, or the way of the universe, and that spiritual immortality is where the spirit of the body joins the universe after death. In this blog, we will explore the origins of Taoism and its main concepts, along with the eight immortals of Taoism and a few teachings that can help you navigate life.

Lao-Tzu and the Origins of Taoism

Lao-Tzu

Pictured: Lao-Tzu    Source: Famous Philosophers

The historian Sima Qian (145-86 BCE) told the story of Lao-Tzu, a curator at the Royal Library in the state of Chu, who was a philosopher. Lao-Tzu believed in the harmony of all things and that people could live easily together if they only considered each other’s feelings and recognized that their self-interest was not always in the interest of others. 

Lao-Tzu grew impatient with the corruption he saw within people and in the government, so he decided to go into exile. As Lao-Tzu was leaving China, a gatekeeper, Yin Hsi, recognized him and asked him to write a book before he left. Lao-Tzu sat down on a rock beside the gatekeeper and wrote the Tao Te Ching, which translates to The Book of the Way.

Lao-Tzu stopped writing when he felt he was finished, handed the book to Yin Hsi, and vanished, never to be seen again. The Tao Te Ching is not looked at as scripture in Taoism; instead, it’s seen as a book of poetry presenting the simple way of living life at peace with one’s self, others, and the world of changes. 

While the author is traditionally believed to be Lao-Tzu, some question his hand in the book as there is little evidence that Lao-Tzu existed. Some believe instead that the Tao Te Ching is a gathering of earlier sayings from many authors. However, Lao-Tzu is sometimes understood as the image of the Tao and given legendary status.

Tao Te ChingPictured: Tao Te Ching    Source: The Flerlage Twins

A Breakdown of Taoism

Taoism is a Chinese philosophy that developed from the folk religion of the people primarily in the rural areas of China; it became the official religion of the country under the Tang Dynasty. Taoism is therefore both a philosophy and a religion.

Taoism has provided an alternative to the Confucian tradition in China, coexisting in the country, regions, and even within the same individual. In Taoism, Confucian gods are seen as manifestations of the one Tao, which is not represented as an image or a particular thing.

The concept of a personified deity who created the universe is foreign to Taoists. This results in their form of prayer being different than Christian religions. Instead, they seek answers to life’s problems through inner meditation and outer observation.

Some of the basic tenets of Taoism are the following:

  • Time is cyclical, not linear as in Western thinking.
  • One should plan in advance and consider carefully each action before making it.
  • Taoists follow the art of “wu wei,” which is to let nature take its course. For example, one should allow a river to flow towards the sea unimpeded; do not erect a dam that would interfere with its natural flow.
  • Taoists strongly promote health and vitality.
  • The five main organs and orifices of the body correspond to the five elements: water, fire, wood, metal, and earth.
  • Development of virtue is one’s chief task. The Three Jewels to be sought are compassion, moderation, and humility.

A Look at Wu Wei in Taoism

In Chinese, wu wei translates to “non-doing or doing nothing;” this concept is key to the noblest kind of action, according to the philosophy of Taoism, and is at the heart of what it means to follow the Tao.

According to the Tao Te Ching: “The Tao never acts yet nothing is left undone.” This is the paradox of wu wei; it doesn’t mean not acting, it means “effortless action” or “actionless action.” Simply put, this means being in a state of peace while engaged in even the most frantic task can allow one to carry it out with maximum skill and efficiency.

The meaning of wu wei is captured when we talk of being “in the zone,” or at one with what we are doing and in a state of flow. It’s also closely connected to the Taoist reverence for the natural world, for it means striving to make our behavior as spontaneous and inevitable as certain natural processes. 

Wu wei involves letting go of thoughts or ideals that we may otherwise try to force too violently onto things. Instead, it invites us to respond to the true demands of situations by putting our ego-driven plans aside. What can follow is a loss of self-consciousness; a new unity between the self and its environment. This change in state unleashes energy that’s normally held back by an overly aggressive, willful style of thinking.

The Tao Te Ching points out that to achieve wu wei we should be like water, which is “submissive and weak and yet which can’t be surpassed for attacking what is hard and strong.” Through gentle persistence and compliance with the specific shape of a problem, an obstacle can be worked around and gradually eroded.

Yin and Yang in Taoism

Taoism’s purpose is to assist individuals in experiencing their essential nature as inseparable from that of the cosmos and to be part of the flow of life. An important first step toward attaining this experience of interconnectedness is by learning to recognize and align ourselves with the movement of life itself, which can be achieved through an understanding of Yin and Yang. 

Yin and Yang, the two essential and interdependent energies of life, describe the underlying unity of life through the interplay of two primal forces. Though opposite in nature, Yin and Yang are not diametrically opposed, but rather complementary and relative to one another. 

Yang is characterized as creative, assertive, and light, while Yin is receptive, yielding, and dark. It’s important to note that these attributes are only descriptive and do not carry any moral value. The interaction between Yin and Yang creates all manifestations, and it’s through them that the Tao reveals itself.

Our entire physical reality is based on the interplay of both Yin and Yang energies. Whether it’s the structure of DNA, with its positive and negative strands, the transmission of neurons in our brains, or the makeup of electricity with its positive and negative currents — all of these processes take place because of these two opposing energies. 

The original meaning of the term “Yin-Yang” signified the dark (Yin) and light (Yang) sides of a mountain. Early in the day, the sun would illuminate one part of the mountain while the other side would remain dark. As the sun moved across the sky, it gradually began to light the opposite side while the earlier sunlit face became dark. Light and dark were not static but interacted with one another, defined one another, and actually assumed each other’s roles in the process of change. This describes the interplay of Yin and Yang within Taoism.

YinAndYang

Pictured: Yin and Yang characteristics    Source: The Lazy Taoist

The Eight Immortals Of Taoism

For devout believers, a central tenet of Taoism is the idea that adhering to certain beliefs and practices can potentially lead to immortality. It’s unknown just how many Taoist practitioners have achieved immortality, but the founder of Taoism, Lao-Tzu, is thought to be immortal.

The religious tradition of Taoism venerates a group of eight xian, or immortals, who offer a concrete symbol of this ability to transcend the limitations of ordinary human life through the beliefs and practices of Taoism. They serve as mythological archetypes of immortality achieved through practice.

Here’s a breakdown of the eight immortals of Taoism:

  • He Xian Gu: Often considered the only woman among the Immortals. He Xian Gu is usually depicted carrying a lotus flower, which is said to improve one’s mental and physical health.
  • Cao Guo Jiu: As a member of the royal family in the Song Dynasty, Cao Guo Jiu is often shown dressed in official robes and holding a jade tablet. He’s commonly regarded as the patron of actors and the theater.
  • Lan Caihe: Sometimes depicted as a male but other times as a female. Lan Caihe is often shown carrying a bamboo flower basket and a pair of bamboo castanets. They’re known to be eccentric, serving to symbolize a carefree life devoid of the concerns and responsibilities of ordinary life.
  • Lu Dongbin (also spelled Lu Tung Pin): Believed to be a scholar and poet that lived during the Tang Dynasty. Lu Dongbin’s symbol is a magic sword that dispels evil spirits and provides him with invisibility. He’s regarded as a patron deity for highly literate people; some also see him as a champion of the medical profession.
  • Han Xiang Zi: Thought to be related to a Confucian scholar. Han Xiang Zi is often depicted carrying a flute and is regarded as a patron deity of musicians. 
  • Zhang Guo Lao: Lived from approximately the middle of the 7th century into the 8th century, practicing as a Taoist hermit in the mountains of east-central China. Zhang Guo Lao is typically shown seated on a white mule, often facing backward. For Taoists, he is regarded as a protector of children and a patron of wine and the good life.
  • Zhongli Quan: Usually shown with his chest exposed and holding a fan with which he can resurrect the dead and transform stones into precious metals. Zhongli Quan is usually featured with a long beard and a glass of wine.

Left; Zhongli Quan , Top Right; He Xian Gu , Bottom Right; Lan Caihe

Pictured: Left; Zhongli Quan (Three Stars), Top Right; He Xian Gu (Tsingtao), Bottom Right; Lan Caihe (Ferre Beekeeper)

Teachings of Taoism to Help You Navigate Life

In a modern world that never sleeps, anyone could benefit from the simplicity found in Taoism. You can grasp some of its key concepts with a few quotes from Taoism’s most important book, the Tao Te Ching. This wisdom lays a simple framework for achieving harmony, which may help you navigate life with ease.

Simplicity, Compassion, and Patience

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”

The Lesson: Life can get complicated, but sometimes all we need to do is get back to the basics. When feeling overwhelmed, these guidelines present essential rules on how to manage actions, relationships, and self-worth in a few concise sentences.

Letting Go

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”

The Lesson: Many Eastern philosophies remind us of the only true constants in life: change and death. While not an easy thing to do, accepting these facts of life can release you from suffering and bring greater freedom into your life. We must remember to let go, and allow life to take its course.

Harmony

“Tao engenders One; One engenders Two; Two engenders Three; Three engenders all things. All things carry the Yin (femininity) while embracing the Yang (masculinity). Neutralizing energy brings them into harmony.”

The Lesson: The Chinese concept of Yin and Yang describes nature in dualities with two opposite, complementary, and interdependent forces. In other words, two halves balancing together to make a whole; one aspect increases as the other decreases, and this balance continues as a pattern in nature.

Examining and understanding these patterns in ourselves and around us brings more balance in life. For example, a person that becomes too rigid may break under pressure. Instead, they should try to become softer and more flexible to restore the balance of Yin to Yang.

Going With the Flow

“When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.”

The Lesson: This quote explains the concept of wu wei, uncontrived action or natural non-intervention. In life, rather than fighting against the conditions in our lives, we can allow things to take their natural course. This can also mean that when you don’t know what to do, do nothing. Instead, look inward and outward in your life, ponder the potential courses of action, and only jump at opportunities when you feel ready.

In Conclusion

The Tao Te Ching, a two and half thousand-year text credited to Lao-Tzu and the second most translated book in world literature, forms the basis of Taoism. Gaining knowledge of the main principles of Taoism allows us to cultivate and strengthen our own process of self-exploration, growth, and transformation, and it helps to connect us deeply to our inner nature and to the world around us. 

Which teaching of Taoism resonated the most with you? Let us know in the comments!

Manifesting With Intention

Manifestation and The Law of Attraction have become popular topics of conversation these days. They’ve been spoken about by thought leaders including Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Gabrielle Bernstein, Iyanla Vanzant, and Oprah. While many would say that both manifestation and The Law of Attraction are about turning dreams into reality, the two are not the same. In this blog, we’ll dive into the differences between manifestation and The Law of Attraction, along with setting intentions, changing your mindset, and using affirmations.

Manifestation vs. The Law of Attraction

The most common approaches to manifestation are the principles taught in The Secret, which are centered around The Law of Attraction. Simply put, these approaches suggest that we can manifest our thoughts into reality by focusing on the things we want. 

However, one of the primary Law of Attraction principles is “like attracts like,” which is the idea that similar things are attracted to each other, include people and thoughts. Negative thinking is believed to attract negative experiences, while positive thinking is believed to attract positive experiences.

Manifesting is the doing of “like attracts like.” The Law of Attraction works regardless of whether you intend it to or not. Your thoughts attract your circumstances in life. To manifest is to first be aware of the power of your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and then harness them to create your reality.

Click here to learn more about The Law of Attraction. 

Setting Intentions

Essentially, manifesting is bringing something tangible into your life through attraction and belief, i.e. if you think it, it will come. However, there is more to manifesting than willpower and positive thinking. As Angelina Lombardo, the author of A Spiritual Entrepreneur, says, “Manifestation is making everything you want to feel and experience a reality… via your thoughts, actions, beliefs, and emotions.”

While everyone approaches manifestation differently, many believe in the same basic principles. First, you need to know precisely what you want. “You are the only one who dreams your dreams, so whether it’s a new partner and a healthy relationship or a better job, know it and own it,” Lombardo says.

Whatever you desire, though, one thing is essential: make your intention as specific as possible. The more clear and concise, the better. Instead of, for example, saying, “I want to meet my soulmate,” try to develop a detailed picture of what that person would look like; think of their qualities, characteristics, values, and so on.

Some experts believe that the moment when it’s especially powerful to set intentions includes the top of the month when you’re setting goals, the beginning of the week to anchor in a desired outcome, or first thing in the morning to set the tone for the day. 

But really, any moment is an opportunity to start fresh with an intention. To help you better understand and harness the power of setting intentions, here are a few steps you can follow:

Identify the Desire

Identifying your desire is the first step in the intention-setting process; It can be big or small, something specific like buying a new car, or more general like living in the moment. Try to keep the intention connected to a feeling versus a very specific desired outcome.

For instance, the desire might be getting a promotion at work, but the feeling underneath it may be to feel fully expressed in the work you do. Once you’ve identified the feeling, you can put language to it and write out the intention.

Get Clear on Yourself

Goals are about doing, and intentions are about being, and when you focus on who you need to be to achieve the goal, the doing becomes easier. To do this, a multitude of experts recommend journaling on qualities that you’d like to embody that will support you in achieving your goal. For example, if your goal is to write a collection of poetry, intentions that could support you could be “I intend to make my creativity a priority” or “I intend to see myself as capable.”

Decide Specific Action Steps

Intentions are not one-size-fits-all. Intentions, such as “being healthier,” can mean wildly different things for different people. For that reason, getting specific with what action steps you’ll take to fulfill your intention and following through with them is vitally important. Specificity breeds success, so once you have the overarching intention in mind of being healthier, focus on your goals by setting up smaller waypoints like: “I’ll work out three times this week.”

Shift Any Limiting Beliefs

Not believing that your intention is actually possible for you is a common challenge that can impede the intention from manifesting. If this is the case for you, try reframing your mindset to ensure your beliefs align with your desire. You can do this by finding evidence in support of your intention already happening in your current reality. For example, if you intend to find love in a partner but you don’t believe it’s possible, look for where love is already present in your life.

Reinforce Intentions Daily

Intentions are part practical and part magic. From a scientific standpoint, the brain is a belief engine and is always looking for confirmatory evidence to prove your intention or hypothesis. Once you’ve identified the new intention, you’ll want to reinforce it with examples from your life. To do this, you can reinforce your intentions after meditation when the brain is more relaxed and receptive.

Surrender and Lean Into Faith

Intentions need to run free. Sometimes, when we set an intention, we use it as a vehicle to control our lives, but there is an element of faith and surrender — a quiet receptivity. Surrender isn’t giving up; it’s an absence of resistance. So if you find yourself being overly controlling with your intentions, remember to take a step back and let go of any resistance. 

Intentions are also not set in stone; they’re moving targets that change and evolve as we grow. Essentially, there’s no sense in stressing out over setting the perfect intention. Give yourself permission to change and adjust your intentions as you go, which in turn helps release control over the situation.

Changing Your Mindset to Manifest Successfully

Recent research has shown that your mindset — or your attitudes and beliefs about different aspects of life — crucially affect your thoughts, behaviors, and experiences. If you want to manifest something, like love, money, or success, your mindset is extremely important. Here are a few types of mindsets that can help you manifest your goals:

  • Growth Mindset: A growth mindset is a tendency for people to believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. With a growth mindset, you can better manifest things because you believe the efforts you put in are worthwhile. 
  • Abundance Mindset: When we don’t have enough of what we need, a belief that there will never be enough of something can sprout. This is a completely normal reaction, but it may sabotage our success in manifesting what we need. Studies suggest that this may be because we are overly focused on what we are lacking and our minds are bogged down by the extra work of worrying about what we don’t have. It’s important to know and accept that there is enough of what you need.
  • Mindful Mindset: A mindful mindset involves being open to and accepting of anything that is. This includes accepting our circumstances, experiences, and ourselves. It often requires us to dig deeper and think about how our opinions are formed, how our reactions create our experiences, and how we can choose to be the person we want to be and live the life we want to live.
  • Positive Mindset: A positive mindset may include gratitude, positive reappraisal, savoring, and future-focused positive thinking, which are all mental processes that can be strengthened and help us manifest positive outcomes like happiness, resilience, and well-being. By building a positive mindset, we can generate more positive emotions.

Affirmations to Manifest Your Intentions

Bringing awareness to whatever it is that you want to manifest is key. As it spends time in your subconscious, it can soon make its way into your life. Let the idea of your intention really sink in, and truly believe yourself when you say it. 

Affirmations are positive statements in the present tense that relate to what it is you want to manifest. They can help you bring the things you want into your subconscious so they can manifest themselves in your life. 

Affirmations can be used as mantras. You can write them down alongside your intentions, or you can voice them to yourself every day. If you enjoy meditation, you may even incorporate them into your daily routine. 

Here are 10 affirmations to help you manifest your intentions:

  • I trust the Universe. It gives me exactly what I need at exactly the right time.
  • I am wealthy and prosperous in every aspect of my life.
  • Every day I am moving toward my best life.
  • I surround myself with positive and genuine people who help me and encourage me to reach my goals.
  • I love, support, and believe in myself.
  • I’m creating a life of passion and purpose.
  • There is no place for negative self-talk in my life.
  • I am abundant in my finances, in happiness, and in love.
  • The Universe always has my back.
  • My intentions for my life are clear. What I am seeking is seeking me.

Five Ways to Manifest 

Manifestation is all about believing that you already have something and letting it come to you, so try to always speak in the present and use active words. Voice your intentions and affirmations in any way you feel comfortable. If you’re having trouble deciding on how to begin manifesting, a few methods you can try are:

369 Manifestation

The 369 manifestation technique involves using the sacred numbers three, six, and nine. There are a few ways people use this method. One is to pick three affirmations, say them six times each day, and focus on your wants for nine seconds as a way to think about what you want to manifest. Another is to write your desire down three times in the morning, six times in the afternoon, and nine times in the evening.

5×55 Manifestation

The 5×55 manifestation technique involves writing down what you want to manifest 55 times for five days straight. Make sure to keep your mind on the single desire you want to become true while you write.

10-10-10 Manifestation

The 10-10-10 manifestation technique involves writing out three lists numbered one to 10. You make one list of 10 things you desire, another list of 10 things you’re grateful for, and then 10 things you enjoy. This manifestation practice is focused on creating a positive mindset for yourself.

Water Manifestation

The water manifestation technique only takes about 3 minutes to complete. You’ll need two cups, one filled with water and the other left empty. Label the cup filled with water with your current reality (if you are manifesting money, you would put the amount you currently have), then label the empty cup with your desired reality (i.e. having wealth).

Hold the cup labeled with your current reality and focus on the emotion of already achieving your desired outcome. You then pour the water into the empty cup and drink it while keeping your desire in mind.

Journaling or Script Manifesting

This manifestation technique can be done in many different ways. You can manifest through journaling by creating lists, tracking dating activities, and figuring out exactly what you want. You can also find manifesting prompts to help awaken your creativity.

Manifestation Quotes to Keep You Inspired

“Everyone creates realities based on their own personal beliefs. These beliefs are so powerful that they can create [expansive or entrapping] realities over and over.” – Kuan Yin

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho

“The truth is that the universe has been answering you all of your life, but you cannot receive the answers unless you are awake.” – Rhonda Byrne

“Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.” – Maya Angelou

“What you think, you create. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you become.” – Unknown

“To live your greatest life, you must first become a leader within yourself. Take charge of your life, begin attracting and manifesting all that you desire in life.” – Sonia Ricotti

 

Do you use affirmations to help with manifesting the life you want? What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

 

The Power of Prayer

Prayer is as fundamental to our inner lives, as breath is to our physical lives; it’s a yearning of the heart, an instinct to reach beyond, and the most fundamental, important language humans speak. The act of prayer is evidenced in written sources as early as 5,000 years ago, however, the ways we pray are just as diverse as we are as humans. In honor of Holy Week, which is April 10th through the 16th, we will explore prayer in different religions and its powerful ability to affect people in positive ways.

A Brief Look at Holy Week

Holy Week, in the Christian church, is celebrated during the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, observed with special solemnity as a time of devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ. In the Greek and Roman liturgical books, it’s called the Great Week since great deeds were done by God during this week.     

By the later 4th century, Christians began separating various events  and commemorating them on the days of the week on which they occurred:

  • Palm Sunday: Celebrates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem
  • Maundy Thursday: Commemorates the foot washing and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles
  • Good Friday: Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary
  • Holy Saturday: Commemorates Jesus’ body resting in the tomb
  • Easter Sunday: Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and his victory over sin and death

Prayer Around The World

Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. In the narrow sense, the term refers to an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity or a deified ancestor. 

Prayer can also have the purpose of thanksgiving or praise, and in comparative religion is closely associated with more abstract forms of meditation and with charms or spells. Prayer may take the form of a hymn, incantation, formal creedal statement, or a spontaneous utterance by the praying person.

Of the world’s more than 7.7 billion people, around 84% of adults and children practice a religion. With thousands of religions or segments of individual religions to choose from, how they choose to worship and practice varies widely, but one trait that many share is the decision to pray.

Here’s a look at prayer and worship by five of the world’s most prominent religions:

Christianity and Prayer

Christian children praying

Pictured: Christian children praying    Source: Compassion

Over 30% of the world’s population is Christian, making it the most practiced religion in the world. While there are many types of Christianity, most observe similar prayer practices, which is often worship on Saturday or Sunday of every week.

On these days, some Christians choose to attend worship and prayer together, while others may practice at home. More strict followers avoid work or spending money, while others might prioritize spending time with family, giving back to the needy, or enjoying the outdoors.

Most Christians believe prayer deepens a person’s faith and can help the believer come to a greater understanding of God’s purpose for their lives. The most widespread prayer among Christians is the Lord’s Prayer, which according to the Christian gospels is how Jesus taught his disciples to pray.1

The Lord’s Prayer is a model for prayers of adoration, confession, and petition in Christianity. As with the Lord’s Prayer, the most common way to end a Christian prayer is by saying “Amen” (from a Hebrew adverb usually translated as, “so be it.”)

Christians interpret the response they might get to their prayers in the following ways:

  • God answers prayers, but not always in the way the person wants. When a prayer is not answered, it may be that the person asked for something God thinks would not be good for them, or that their prayer will be answered later.
  • Sometimes Christians believe that God has answered their prayers in spectacular ways, such as with the recovery of a sick person. 
  • For some Christians, meditation or contemplation is a way of trying to reach a higher spiritual level.
  • Others, especially Orthodox Christians, use the Jesus Prayer, which says: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” They may chant this prayer over and over to clear their minds and achieve inner peace.

Some Christians, especially Roman Catholics, use a rosary to meditate on the life of Jesus. Candles, a crucifix, or a cross can also help Christians focus and allow the Holy Spirit to enter their hearts.2

You can read some common Christian prayers here.

Judaism and Prayer

Jewish man praying

Pictured: Jewish man praying    Source: Getty Images

Judaism is another common world religion in which prayer serves an important central purpose. Jews practice their day of prayer each week as Shabbat, which runs from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown. On Shabbat, Jews gather to read the Torah, pray together, and enjoy a special meal featuring braided bread, or challah, and grape juice or wine.3

Jews are supposed to pray once in the morning, afternoon, and evening to God, or Yahweh. Prayer is considered a service of the heart and is a Torah-based commandment; it’s not time-dependent and is mandatory for both Jewish men and women.

However, the rabbinic requirement to recite a specific prayer text does differentiate between men and women. Jewish men are obligated to recite three prayers each day within specific time ranges, known as zmanim, while, according to many approaches, women only have to pray once or twice a day, and may not be required to recite a specific text.4

Jews believe that the more you ask for God’s help, the more God loves you. But much of Jewish prayer consists of reciting written prayers aloud in synagogue, as an act of community participation, and as a symbol for putting yourself in the context of other Jews and the Jewish tradition as a whole.

For Jewish individuals, prayer both private and formal:

  • Allows Jews to make a deeper, personal connection with God
  • Allows Jews to ask God for help with personal situations
  • Provides a sense of community
  • Connects them to their history

You can read some common Jewish prayers here.

Buddhism and Prayer

Buddhist men meditating

Pictured: Buddhist monks meditating    Source: iStock Photo

Buddhist prayer is not only an expression of gratitude for precious human life, but it’s also a practice of inner transformation; the creation of a state or condition conducive to the development of compassion, knowledge, and wisdom.5

In Buddhism, prayer can take on many forms depending on sect or region. The most common method of prayer Buddhists practice is meditation. During meditation, a Buddhist may pray for the happiness and well being of all sentient beings or they may focus their attention on one individual.

Other forms of Buddhist prayer include bringing offerings of flowers or incense to temples and shrines, circumambulating holy sites, and chanting verses from ancient texts. Tibetan Buddhists make prayer offerings by creating detailed works of art, called mandalas, out of colored sand, and Zen Buddhists are known for their rock gardens of peace and tranquility.6

For Buddhists, prayer is primarily utilized for its internal purposes. It’s practiced to awaken the practitioner’s inner bodhichitta, or Buddha-nature. This concept can be defined as the fundamental compassionate vital energy; an energy that is as much present in the cosmos as it is within the individual. 

During prayer or meditation, Buddhists may:

  • Use prayer beads, called “malas,” to help them remain focused, they do this by being a tactile reminder of what you are meant to be doing – meditating. Buddhists do not always wear their beads, some actually prefer to use them only for meditation and prayer.7
  • Hang prayer flags, usually covered with auspicious symbols and mantras, in mountain winds that are not intended to carry petitions to gods but to spread blessings and good fortune to all beings.8
  • Spin prayer wheels that are usually covered in written mantras to help them focus on and dedicate the merit of the act to all beings. In this way, the wheel turning is also a kind of meditation.9

You can read some common Buddhist prayers here.

Hinduism and Prayer

Hindu woman praying

Pictured: Hindu woman praying    Source: Learn Religions

Much like Buddhism, for those who practice Hinduism, there is no set day of worship each week. Another way that this religion differs from others is that its prayers are far less formal and are often held in temples. Those looking to pray may come and go as they please, without needing to stay for a set service.

Hindu prayer and rituals are commonly performed three times a day. Some Hindus, but not all, worship a personal god or goddess, such as Shiva, Krishna, Lakshmi, or the Supreme Creator, Brahman, with the sacred thread being hung over the left shoulder and hanging to the right hip. This is cotton for the Brahmin (priest), hemp for the Kshatriya (ruler), and wool for the vaishya (merchants).10

In Hinduism, prayer is called Prārthana. Hindu prayers can be broadly classified as Mānasika (mental), Vācika (verbal), and Kāyika (physical). Even a single thought about the Divine can be considered Mānasika. Chanting mantras and requests constitute the Vācika. An offering of oblation to fire, prostrating in front of god, lighting and waving the lamps, offering food to god, and going on a pilgrimage are all Kāyika, or physical Prārthana.11

Hindu prayer can be in the form of a supplication, but traditionally includes the repletion of the names of the divine beings or the repetition of a mantra. It’s also physical and might include bowing or kneeling.

Leaving offerings at the altar is another form of worship, which can include fruit, tokens, flowers, and incense. Hindu altars often include images or other symbols as a way of accessing the gods and providing a focal point for one’s worship.12

The scriptures, known as the Vedas, indicate that there are seven techniques of successful prayer. Here are a few to take note of: 13

  • When you pray, just talk as a child would to a father or mother whom he loves and with whom he feels in harmony. Pray for everything that is on your mind and in your heart.
  • Try helping others with your prayers. Pray for those who are in trouble or are ill. Whether they are your loved ones or your friends or neighbors, your prayer can profoundly affect them.
  • Last but not the least, whatever you do, try not to make prayers into the form of begging. A prayer for thanksgiving is much more powerful. Make your prayer consisting of a listing of all the fine things you possess or all the wonderful things that have happened to you.

You can read some common Hindu prayers here.

Islam and Prayer

Muslim man praying

Pictured: Muslim man praying    Source: iStock Photo

Devout Muslims pray five times a day, every day. Muslims pray to Allah on a set schedule, and in many nations where the Muslim religion is prominent, bells may be used to remind individuals of the time to pray.

Muslims pray:

  • Salat al-fajr: dawn, before sunrise
  • Salat al-zuhr: midday, after the sun passes its highest
  • Salat al-’asr: the late part of the afternoon
  • Salat al-maghrib: just after sunset
  • Salat al-’isha: between sunset and midnight

Practicing this prayer ritual connects each Muslim to Allah, to all others around the world, and to all those who have uttered the same words and made the same movements at different times in Islamic history. The set prayers are not just phrases to be spoken; prayers for Muslims involve uniting the mind, soul, and body in worship.14

Muslims pray as though they are in the presence of Allah, and therefore must be in a state of concentration. While moving into the upright position, Muslims commonly recite “Allah listens to the one who praises Him’” and while in the standing position, “To Allah belongs all praise” is recited.

Muslims make sure that they are in the right frame of mind before they pray; they put aside all everyday cares and thoughts so that they can concentrate exclusively on Allah. If a Muslim prays without the right attitude of mind, it’s as if they hadn’t prayed at all.15

You can read some common Muslim prayers here.

The Benefits of Prayer

According to Dr. Wayne Jonas, surveys indicate that nearly 90% of patients with serious illnesses will engage in prayer for the alleviation of their suffering or disease. Among all forms of complementary medicine, prayer is the single most widely-practiced healing modality.

Additionally, research conducted by Dr. Christina Puchalski, Director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, mentions that prayer is the second most common method of pain management (after oral pain medication), and the most common non-drug method of pain management.

The following explanations have been offered as to how prayer may help improve health:

  • The Relaxation Response: Prayer can elicit the relaxation response, which may lower blood pressure and other factors heightened by stress.
  • Secondary Control: Prayer releases control to something greater than oneself, which can reduce the stress of needing to be in charge.
  • The Placebo Response: Prayer can enhance a person’s hopes and expectations, and that, in turn, may positively impact health.
  • Healing Presence: Prayer can bring a sense of a spiritual or loving presence and alignment with God or an immersion into a universal unconsciousness.
  • Positive Feelings: Prayer can elicit feelings of gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and hope, all of which are associated with healing and wellness.
  • Mind, Body, Spirit Connection: When prayer uplifts or calms, it can inhibit the release of cortisol and other hormones, thus reducing the negative impact of stress on the immune system and promoting healing.

In Conclusion

Prayer has a very personal meaning arising from an individual’s religious background or spiritual practice. For some, it can mean specific sacred words; for others, it may be a more informal talking or listening to God or a higher power. Prayer is universal and there’s no wrong way to do it.

The act of praying can help you find your path in life, cope with negative feelings, and if you believe in one, feel closer to your higher power. Whether it’s through meditation, speaking, dancing, drawing, or anything else, prayer can immensely impact your life for the better.

Do you have any personal rituals or preferred ways that you like to pray? Let us know in the comments below.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord%27s_Prayer#:~:text=%22Pray%20then%20like%20this%3A%20′,deliver%20us%20from%20evil.’%22 [1]

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zwkjpv4/revision/3 [2]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiddush [3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_prayer#:~:text=However%2C%20the%20rabbinic%20requirement%20to,and%20may%20not%20be%20required [4]

​​https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/buddha/ [5]

https://classroom.synonym.com/functions-prayer-within-buddhism-8288.html [6]

https://www.goldenagebeads.com/blog/a-guide-to-malas.html [7]

https://www.learnreligions.com/do-buddhists-pray449582#:~:text=Hanging%20prayer%20flags%20in%20mountain,good%20fortune%20to%20all%20beings. [8]

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-asia/himalayas/tibet/a/prayer-wheel [9]

https://www.britannica.com/topic/upavita [10]

https://www.patheos.com/answers/do-hindus-pray [11] [12]

https://www.learnreligions.com/why-and-how-to-pray-1770545 [13]

 

 

What Is Mirror Gazing?

We often associate staring into a mirror for long periods of time with vanity and narcissism or flaw-finding and self-criticism. But learning how to get comfortable with your reflection can actually be good for you. Mirror gazing, a form of meditation, is a simple concept that involves spending purposeful time in front of a mirror to literally self-reflect. Though simple in concept, mirror gazing is a powerful health and wellness tool that can renew one’s sense of self and improve self-image.

Mirror Gazing Differs From Other Meditative Practices

As a meditative practice, mirror gazing is not far removed from other mindfulness exercises. Like other meditations, it can guide you to be more conscious of the present moment, enhance relaxation, and ground you in calmness amid the various stressors of the day. The main differences that set mirror gazing apart from other meditation practices are the use of a mirror and the focus on outer self as a portal of better awareness to your inner thoughts and feelings. Your gaze becomes the focus of your practice.

The Benefits of Mirror Gazing

Mirror gazing isn’t just checking your reflection to see how you look. It’s an opportunity to build a spiritual connection with the person you see in the mirror. The practice can at first be quite uncomfortable, particularly if self-esteem has been tied to aspects of your physical being. But as a new form of healing, over time, mirror gazing can help mend misconceptions you may hold deep within. This simple yet powerful practice has been shown to offer a multitude of benefits including increased confidence, improved mental health, healthier self-image, increased compassion, better stress management, improved relationships, and enhanced emotional resilience.

Increased Confidence

Mirror gazing engages you to look past mere surface flaws to recognize the profound beauty and true miracle that is your whole embodiment. Focusing solely on yourself quietly with no distractions for a few intimate moments helps you notice your inner voice more clearly. Noticing any negative self-talk and mindfully transitioning toward more positive self-talk each day is a significant step toward greater self-confidence.

Similarly, when you sit with yourself as your own best friend during a mirror gazing meditation, you can single out your favorite features, traits, and attributes and show them love and appreciation. By acknowledging yourself, complimenting yourself, and cherishing yourself, you can begin to grow more confident in your own skin.

Authenticity and Emotional Awareness

Emotions commonly show themselves on your face, but research shows that you also carry emotions elsewhere in your body. For example, distress may be evident by the slouch of your shoulders. Insecurity may be revealed by your inability to meet your gaze in the mirror. Looking at yourself intentionally, though, helps you to practice authenticity and emotional awareness. You can’t run away from the things that are troubling you, so mirror gazing offers a chance to confront them instead.

Noting how emotions shift across your face and show with your body language can help you take stock of your present state of mind, especially those hiding behind false fronts of cheer and calmness. As you fully open yourself up to what comes, find relaxation in the experience instead of fighting it. You may find that sitting with your reflection can help dull the edges of the sharpest pains that accompany distress, making them easier to bear. Learning to understand and accept all your emotions can also facilitate better communication with others.

Greater Self Compassion and Love

Looking at yourself in the mirror might make you feel uncomfortable when your reflection reminds you of imperfections and weaknesses. Mirror gazing, though, can help you embrace a more realistic, forgiving perspective. Sure, you have a few flaws, but who doesn’t? These characteristics that you perceive as less-than-perfect may make you feel like they are staring back at you with disdain. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy of love – especially your own love.

People often avoid thinking about mistakes they’ve made or wish they could alter aspects of themselves that they consider flawed. But in the mirror, you can’t turn away from the parts of yourself and your reflection that you view as imperfect; instead, you have to acknowledge them. The compassionate acknowledgment of your unique self can help disrupt feelings of shame or your own unworthiness. Pushing back negative thoughts that spring up like weeds can, in turn, allow self-acceptance and self-love to bloom.

Studies on Mirror Gazing

Mirror gazing is a relatively new meditative technique that is gaining broader awareness due to research showing benefits of improved mental well-being. Here is a glimpse at two studies that have been conducted to show the incredible power that mirror gazing wields.

Professor Tara Well of Columbia University

Professor Tara Well, a research scientist at Barnard College, Columbia University, discovered mirror gazing for herself before she developed research in the mirror gazing field and began spreading the word through lectures, courses, and Ted Talks. She conducted an experiment where participants were simply asked to mirror gaze for a length of time.

The results were clear on one thing: all participants benefited in one way or another. Many found reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. She also found that the women in the study started to focus less on appearance and more on how they were feeling. This led to self-resilience and a better connection with themselves. 1,2

You can view one of Tara’s Ted Talks here to learn more about her research and what mirror gazing can teach you.

Professor Nicola Petrocchi of La Sapienza University

A 2016 study conducted by Nicola Petrocchi from La Sapienza University in Rome focused on self-soothing while looking at oneself in the mirror. 86 participants were asked to write down words they’d use to console a friend in despair. Afterward, they were invited to apply these very phrases on themselves while looking at their reflection in a mirror. Nicola found that the heart frequency observed under these conditions was similar to the frequency found when we’re feeling compassion toward others.3

This experiment shows that a mirror is a prop that possesses the power to make us feel genuine empathy towards ourselves in the same way we do for others. Our physical response moves us to love ourselves and practicing mirror gazing can unlock great potential for all-around good health and positivity.

A Mirror Gazing Meditation Technique

If you’ve grown up with an inner voice that’s been less than kind, mirror gazing meditation can help release self-criticism, serving to replace it with self-love, self-compassion, and self-confidence. Practicing just 5-10 minutes a day of self-reflection (figuratively and literally) can be a therapeutic outlet to support mental and emotional well-being.

Here’s how to practice mirror gazing meditation:

  1. Set the Space and Intention
    Choose a quiet, well-lit, private place. Sit comfortably on a chair or cushion. Position your mirror so you can see directly into your eyes. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Have no goal other than to sit with yourself in peace.
  2. Tune Into Your Breathing
    Close your eyes and slow your breathing. Take several deep belly breaths, allowing yourself to inhale, hold, and then slowly exhale. As your body relaxes, let yourself breathe naturally. Turn your attention to any tense spots in your body. Visualize that tension slowly dissolving with each breath.
  3. Begin to Gaze Into Your Eyes
    Open your eyes and look into the mirror. Notice if your breathing changes when your first look at yourself. Come back to full steady breathing. Consider the message in your eyes. Is it judgmental or kind? Do you immediately focus on something specific you dislike about yourself? Visualize each slow breath dissolving any dislike that arises.
  4. Observe Your Inner Critic
    Notice your thoughts as you continue to gaze. What comes to mind? Do flaws come more readily into focus than praise? Do you feel emotions, self-disdain, or self-adoration? As every thought comes up, observe it, and breathe it away. Notice how emotions move across your face. What does judgment look like? Anger? Fear? Acceptance? Love?
  5. Notice Where Your Attention Flows
    Continue gazing at your reflection, staying open to whatever arises. Notice any sensations or emotions that come up and allow them to simply be there without judgment. Let your feelings and thoughts simply pass by as you breathe, relax your body, and gaze at yourself.
  6. Practice Self-Kindness
    Close with affirmations of kindness and set an intention to fall in love with yourself a little more each day. Breathe into the energy of your light, that inner beauty that shines so brightly for the world to see. Exhale, and thank yourself for spending precious moments of self-care with your reflection.

The Humanist Beauty Self Reflecting Mirror

Every time you glance at your reflection, be greeted with a friendly reminder that you are a beautiful human. The new Humanist Beauty Self Reflecting Mirror is perfect for your mirror gazing meditation practice. The mirror measures 5w” x 7h” and comes with a double-sided engraved wooden base. Perfect for your desktop, tabletop, bookshelf, or windowsill, so you can mirror gaze anytime, anywhere. It makes a great gift and is made in the USA.

Self Reflecting Mirror

You can shop the Humanist Beauty Self Reflecting Mirror here.

 

References:

https://barnard.edu/news/prof-tara-well-shares-expertise-mirror-meditation [1]

https://www.deansignori.com/mirror-gazing/ [2]

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305317589_Compassion_at_the_mirror_Exposure_to_a_mirror_increases_the_efficacy_of_a_self-compassion_manipulation_in_enhancing_soothing_positive_affect_and_heart_rate_variability [3]

A Glimpse Into Sacred Geometry

If symbolism has ever piqued your interest, you may find abundant fascination with sacred geometry. Since the times of the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids, humans have been creating architecture based on forms found in sacred geometry, stemming from the geometric patterns that are seen in nature. From seashells to the human body, from the cosmos to the atom, all forms are permeated with the shapes and symbols found in sacred geometry. Additionally, healing with sacred geometry is one of the most natural and powerful ways to engage the mind, body, and spirit. But what exactly is the meaning behind sacred geometry and the shapes and symbols associated with it?

Sacred Geometry and Its History

Sacred geometry is essentially the study of various shapes and their spiritual meaning. It can be applied to forms, numbers, symbols, and patterns seen throughout the world. The spiral of a snail’s shell, the geometric patterns of snowflakes, and the branches of trees are all examples of sacred geometry. However, sacred geometry is also thought to exist beyond the naked eye, both on a cellular level and in the orbiting planets and stars.

The idea that the universe follows an intricate equation dates as far back as ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures. Mesopotamians used geometric calculations consisting of trapezoids to track Jupiter, while Egyptians used geometric shapes to gather the Universe’s harmonic and beneficial natures.1 2 Sacred geometry received more attention centuries later in ancient Greece, where it was popularized by philosophers such as Plato who used it to create the platonic solids.

Platonic Solids

Pictured: Platonic Solids
Source: Hellenic Faith 

Jemma Foster, author of Sacred Geometry: How To Use Cosmic Patterns To Power Up Your Life, explains sacred geometry in a nutshell by stating, “Rooted in its nature is the understanding that nothing is in isolation; everything is connected.”

The Basics of Sacred Geometry

Geometric shapes form the foundation for everything we perceive in the universe with our five senses. These shapes are pervasive and ubiquitous. Their designs and patterns aren’t just something we see – they also form our human composition. This makes sense, after all, for we are part of the universe.

The connection we have to sacred geometry is why we are sometimes attracted to certain forms of art or why we identify with various shapes or symbols more than others. The designs resonate with each person differently, because geometric shapes and symbols have certain effects on our minds. Sacred geometry has influenced a multitude of theories throughout the centuries.

Common Shapes and Their Meanings

A Triangle Circle & Square

The Triangle

In sacred geometry, triangles are thought to symbolize balance and harmony. This three-sided shape can also be related to the body, mind, and spirit: if it has an upward facing point, it is known to indicate elevated consciousness. When pointing downward, triangles are associated with feminine energy and reproduction, as it resembles the womb space. The Star of David, for example, has two triangles with points that face both upward and downward symbolizing perfect harmony.

The Circle

Circles represent a never-ending loop due to lacking a beginning and end. As such, circles in sacred geometry can be thought of as a symbol of oneness. The idea of this never-ending shape is demonstrable and can be observed in Pi (𝛑), or the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi is an irrational number that goes on forever, never repeating.

The Square

Squares represent practical and solid energy. Envision the base of a pyramid – it is a square. This shape can be thought of as foundational and dependable, known to be stable, grounding, and safe. A square has four sides – a mystical number relating to the 4 elements, an indicator of essential elements relating well to each other in harmony and balance.

Common Symbols and Their Meanings

The Flower of Life

Flower of Life

The flower of life is the name given to a geometric flower-like pattern that consists of mostly evenly-spaced and overlapping circles around a central point. The name was given to this symbol because it’s believed to contain the patterns of time, space, and all creations. It also contains the five platonic solids meaning that the symbol models all realities and possible creations of both natural and man-made elements. A few of the natural elements that can be found in the flower of life are snowflakes and sunflowers.

The flower of life is believed to have the power of unlocking memories that are present deep within us. It is also considered a powerful symbol because it activates energy coding in the brain that helps a person connect with their light body. Additionally, the interlocking circles that form the flower of life are considered the Blueprint of the Universe.

The Vesica Piscis

Vesica Piscis

Consisting of two interlocking circles whose centers exactly touch, vesica piscis is considered the symbolic representation of shared vision, understanding, or common ground between two equal individuals. The shape in the center of the vesica piscis, which is formed by the interlocking circles, represents the human eye and highlights the spiritual concepts of “seeing eye to eye” and that “eyes are the mirror to the soul.” It is in these meanings that the symbol was used by many Renaissance artists.

Another viewpoint of the vesica piscis is that the overlapping circles signify the connection between the physical and spiritual world and the shape in the center represents fish or a fish bladder, which was considered sacred by the early Christians. This is why the vesica piscis can be found in an abundance of churches today.

The Metatron’s Cube

Metatron’s Cube

Metatron’s cube is a geometric symbol that will fascinate you with both its visual appearance and background story. According to belief, the angel Metatron created Metatron’s cube out of his own soul. The symbol is made up of all the shapes created by God, which are the platonic solids; considered to be the base material of all things in the universe.

Many experts suggest that the cube in Metatron’s cube is the representation of our bodies in the three-dimensional world and the sphere inside the cube represents our souls. However, according to theories on the symbol, it is a way for God to convey knowledge to humans, along with deriving from the tree of life. For these reasons, the symbol has been used throughout the centuries as protection against evil spirits and demons.

Sacred Geometry Theories

The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio

Almost everyone has learned about Pi in school, but relatively few curriculums include Phi, or the Golden Ratio, perhaps for the very reason that grasping all its manifestations often takes one beyond the academic into the spiritual just by the simple fact that Phi unveils frequent constants that apply to so many aspects of life. Both Pi and Phi are irrational numbers with an infinite number of digits after the decimal point.

Phi, or ɸ (1.618…), is the ratio that results when a line is divided in one very special and unique way. To illustrate, suppose you were asked to take a string and cut it. There’s any number of places you could cut it, and each place would result in different ratios for the length of the pieces. There is one certain point, though, at which the ratio of the large piece to the smaller piece is the same as the ratio of the whole string to the large piece, and at this point, the ratio is 1.618 to 1. This is the Golden Ratio.

The Golden Ratio is also found in geometry, appearing in basic constructions of an equilateral triangle, square, and pentagon placed inside a circle, as well as in more complex three-dimensional solids such as dodecahedrons. Interestingly enough, Phi appears throughout the human form; in the face, body, fingers, teeth, and even our DNA. It seems that Phi is hard-wired into our consciousness as a guide to beauty. For this reason, Phi is applied in both facial plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry as a guide to achieving the most natural and beautiful results in appearance.

The Vitruvian Man

The Vitruvian Man is considered Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous and widely reproduced folio. This representation, which is said to lie heavily with the Golden Ratio, objectively reflects the human body’s proportional basis. It is historically associated with the Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, who explained the principle in his book De architectura at the beginning of the first century AD. This figure has been recurrently used to illustrate the Renaissance ideal of a man as a symbolic microcosm, thus praising his role as the center of the universe.

Leonardo da Vinci used a series of notes as standards for the proportions of the human body, which were:

The Face:

  • The distance between the chin and the nostrils is 1/3 of the whole face.
  • From under the nostrils to the eyebrows is again 1/3 of the face.
  • Eyebrow to the hairline is also 1/3 of the face.

The Body:

  • The complete face, chin to hairline, is 1/10 of the human body.
  • The head, chin to the crown, measures 1/8 of the human body.
  • From the breast to hairline is 1/6 of the human body.
  • From the breast to the crown is 1/6 of the human body.
  • The length of the foot is 1/6 of the height of a human.
  • From the wrist to the tip of the fingers is 1/10 of the human height.
  • The length of the forearm and the breadth of the breast are 1/4 of the height of a human.

This theory explains to us that in ancient times, the proportions 1:3, 1:4, 1:6, 1:8, and 1:10 were appropriate to man.3 Looking at da Vinci’s diagram, Vitruvius begins with a focal point, which is the navel. All the elements in the folio are measured from this point forming circles and squares. According to this theory, the human body is rooted in symmetry, which is why architecture has also utilized the proportions in the Vitruvian Man to acquire perfect symmetry.

Healing With Sacred Geometry

Sacred geometry is the essence of everything around us, including both materialized and immaterialized things. In some cases, we can see these manifestations in 3D, such as with leaves and crystals. However, most of the time, sacred geometry is the invisible force that drives the world. Each shape carries a powerful frequency that has a healing and soothing effect on our whole being.

Though not scientifically proven, there are a few sacred geometry healing practices you can try at home:

Create a Crystal Grid

You can look at crystals as spiritual sacred geometry actualized in the physical realm. They carry healing vibrations that can cleanse your aura and stimulate healing processes. As a result, they can help you reach higher levels of consciousness and release whatever is holding you back.

The potency of combining crystal healing with sacred geometry lies in their incredible compatibility, with crystals opening the gateways of healing and the power of sacred shapes amplifying crystal healing properties.

To use crystals and sacred geometry together, you should first choose a crystal for its healing properties. For instance, if you’re looking for an energetic cleanse, clear quartz is an ideal option. If you feel lost or emotionally burdened, try lapis lazuli.

Here are some suggested tips to create your own healing ritual:

  • Gather your favorite crystals and take some time to reflect on what you need or are seeking. Try observing them with a clear mind for a more beneficial experience.
  • Place the crystals in front of you or around you to resemble a sacred geometric shape, also known as a crystal grid. A triangle is best for elevating your consciousness, while squares support security and stability. For wholeness, arrange your crystals in a circle.
  • Meditate in front of your crystal grid and place it in an altar where it can regularly amplify your space. You can switch up the geometric shapes or crystals as needed depending on your needs.

A Crystal Grid

An Example of A Crystal Grid
Source: Sage Crystals

Meditation

To meditate with sacred geometric forms, simply find a calm and quiet area to close your eyes and relax. Instead of the usual mantra of words, though, you’ll be focusing on a sacred geometric shape.

Tetrahedrons, cubes, and pyramids are excellent beginning points when meditating with sacred geometry. These shapes can help introduce your current state to the healing process, which will make for an excellent meditation session. As you progress through your sacred geometry meditation journey, you can begin to add more shapes for various other benefits.

Here is a simple pyramid power meditation you can try:

  • Sit cross-legged with a hand rested on each knee so that you form a pyramid with your body. Take a few moments to settle into this shape.
  • Take six deep breaths through your nose, drawing the breath down through your spine and up to your solar plexus and heart, and out through your mouth.
  • In your mind’s eye, draw a square on the ground around you to form the base of your pyramid. As you do so, acknowledge the four directions, north, south, east, west, along with the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water.
  • Set the intention that this square represents the anchor to your physical reality, which will serve to ground the higher frequencies you’re calling for. Make sure to breathe into it.
  • Draw with your mind’s eye four triangles to fully construct your pyramid.
  • Take 6 breaths again and imagine a white light piercing the tip of your pyramid and flowing into the space that you’ve created. Allow the light to wash over you and be absorbed by every cell in your body.
  • Next, visualize a circle within the base (the square) of your pyramid. Spin the circle counterclockwise to discharge any stagnant or blocked energy, then spin it clockwise to change your energy centers.
  • Visualize a flame of purification before you, while building a pile of all the things you want to be released. Allow the fire to ignite the negative energy and bask in the lightness of letting go.

Sound Healing

Sound is also a form of sacred geometry. In fact, the sounds you hear every day, such as your voice, are auditory formations of these healing patterns. This means that by using healing frequencies and sounds, you can rewire your energy field and rejuvenate all aspects of your being.

You can do this by listening to specifically created sounds that emit vibrations, which affect the physical realm. This means that each sound frequency creates a geometric pattern that your body recognizes.

Try listening to these sacred vibrations:

  • Sacred Geometry: Sound Healing Session
  • Whole Body Rejuvenation Sounds
  • Sacred Geometry Converted to Sound

Final Thoughts

Sacred geometry can be seen on a macro and micro level throughout history, nature, and man-made architecture. Learning about the mystery and meanings behind various forms can help enhance your connection to spirit, widen your acceptance, and broaden your mind to new concepts and ideas. It can help expand your appreciation for the universe at large while also grounding you for improved balance and harmony.

All the world is founded upon geometrical concepts with shapes that vibrate in and among us. According to Foster, “When we exist in accordance to these sacred principles, we are in a state of abundance and receptivity – we become energetic architects and empowered co-creators of our reality.”4

Were you aware that sacred geometry was so pervasive in our world? Have you tried healing with geometric shapes before? Let us know in the comments below.

References:

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35431974 [1]

https://www.amazon.com/Egyptian-Sacred-Geometry-Egyptians-beneficial/dp/B0875Z2KHZ#:~:text=The%20ancient%20Egyptians%20knew%20that,They%20harnessed%20these%20energies.&text=Design%20and%20lay%20out%20your,beneficial%20energies%20from%20the%20Universe. [2]

https://thearchinsider.com/the-vitruvian-man-a-guide-to-proportion-and-symmetry/ [3]

https://www.mamaxanadu.com/about

All About Reiki

Reiki is a Japanese energy healing technique that was created by Mikao Usui in the early 20th century. According to the International Center for Reiki Training, the practice is based on the idea that we all have unseen “life force energy” flowing through our bodies that keeps us alive.1 While Reiki hasn’t been backed by science, those who’ve experienced it claim that it works miraculously for emotional stress and various medical conditions.

What is Reiki?

The term “reiki” comes from the Japanese words “rei,” meaning universal, and “ki,” meaning the vital life force energy that flows through all living things. According to some practitioners, Reiki is acupuncture without the needles.

It’s believed that you are more likely to get sick and feel anxiety if your life force energy is low, whereas someone with a high life force energy is more likely to be healthy and happy. Therefore, Reiki revolves around increasing the level of this energy in an individual.

To achieve a high level of energy, Reiki practitioners place their hands on or just above specific areas of the body. The belief is that the practitioner can stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities by becoming a channel for energy.

Reiki is a simple and natural method of spiritual healing that has been known to be effective against a variety of maladies and illnesses. Many individuals commonly use Reiki in conjunction with other medical and therapeutic techniques to relieve some side effects and promote a speedy recovery.

Health Benefits of Reiki

According to a 2007 study conducted by the National Institute of Health, 1.2 million adults and 161,000 children in the United States received energy healing therapy like Reiki in the previous year.2 Additionally, according to a different study for the March-April 2017 issue of Holistic Nursing Practice, Reiki is now used by a rapidly growing number of Americans to aid in the healing of various ailments.3

While research on Reiki is limited, there are a few studies that have helped solidify the impact Reiki can have on your whole body. These studies have found that Reiki:

Promotes Relaxation

The most well-documented benefit of Reiki revolves around the relaxation response, which practitioners say invokes the body’s natural healing process.

Dr. Rachel Lampert, M.D., a professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, and her colleagues studied 37 patients that were recovering from a heart attack. The patients were randomized into 3 groups: patients who simply rested, those who received 1 Reiki session from a Reiki practitioner, and those who listened to music. The researchers measured the activity of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which regulates heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and breathing.

Lampert and her colleagues zoomed in on heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of the pattern of heartbeats that are controlled by the ANS. According to Lampert, the higher the HRV after a heart attack, the better the outlook for the patient.4

In the study, the patients who received Reiki had a higher HRV and improved emotional state than the other two groups of patients.

Eases Physical Pain and Improves Quality of Life

A multitude of studies have addressed Reiki’s role in pain alleviation after knee surgery, post-cesarean section recovery, the restoration of range of motion in injured shoulders, hypertension management, and the improvement of quality of life for patients with rheumatoid arthritis or patients undergoing various cancer treatments.

Zilda Alarcano, a Portuguese researcher, and her colleagues looked at the impact of Reiki treatments versus sham (placebo) Reiki in 2 groups of patients with blood cancer. Each group contained 58 individuals who received an hour-long Reiki treatment once a week for 4 weeks. The sessions were administered by trained Reiki practitioners or someone pretending to perform Reiki (sham Reiki).

The researchers found that the patients who received real Reiki showed significantly more improvements than the other group in general, physical, environmental, and social dimensions of quality of life. Their results were published in the 2016 issue of the European Journal of Integrative Medicine.5

Boosts Mood and Sleep

Research suggests that Reiki helps with depression and insomnia. A 2012 study in the Indian Journal of Positive Psychology involved 40 women who suffered from anxiety and depression. Half of the group received a Reiki treatment 2 times a week for 10 weeks, while the others received no Reiki treatments. The women who received Reiki saw significant improvements in both their sleep quality and depression symptoms.6

In another study, researchers at Harvard Medical School followed 99 patients at multiple sites to determine the effects of 1 Reiki session. The study, which was a single-arm effectiveness study published in the 2019 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found significant improvement in anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as nausea and pain.7

What Happens During a Reiki Session?

Even though Reiki boasts many holistic benefits, you may be hesitant or nervous to see a Reiki practitioner for a session, and those feelings are completely normal. However, based on your wishes, Reiki sessions can last just 20 minutes or up to 90 minutes. On top of that, you’ll always want to meet and learn about your practitioner before your first session.

Reiki practitioners have a passion to help you, so be sure to let them know:

  • Your expectations or intentions
  • The areas of the body you’d like them to focus on
  • If you’ve experienced any injuries
  • Places on your body that are sensitive to touch
  • Places on your body that are off-limits

During a Reiki session, you’ll be asked to sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on a table, fully clothed. Your Reiki practitioner will then place their hands lightly on or over specific areas of your head, limbs, and torso. Practitioners typically keep their hands in this position for 3-10 minutes to complete the energy transfer.

For the most part, there won’t be any talking during the session, but you should always let your Reiki practitioner know if there’s something you need to feel more comfortable or to share what you’re experiencing.

Crystals and Reiki

Many Reiki practitioners combine crystal healing with Reiki for added balance and to speed the body’s natural healing ability. If crystals are used during a Reiki session, they’re usually placed on or around your body or you may be asked to hold a crystal. While there’s not much research that supports the use of crystals to improve health, there have been numerous claims that they have a calming effect and help with healing.

Crystals that may be used during a Reiki session are:

  • Rose Quartz: Purifies and opens the heart at all levels to promote self-love, friendship, deep inner healing, and a feeling of peace.
  • Amethyst: Ensures emotional stability, reduces the strength of negative emotions and calms the mind.
  • Moonstone: Soothes emotional stability and cleanses negative energy from your chakras.
  • Topaz: Soothes, heals, stimulates, recharges, remotivates, and aligns the meridians of the body by directing energy where it needs to go.

A woman receiving reiki healing with crystals placed on her head and throat

Source: The John Harvey Gray Center for Reiki Healing

Reiki Healing for Beginners

Reiki is one of the safest energy healing modalities that anyone can learn to restore and strengthen their ki. While professional Reiki practitioners train for years to understand and navigate subtle energy shifts, you can also learn to work with energy and impact the flow of others quickly and in the comfort of your own home.

Here are a few novice Reiki techniques you can try on yourself and others:

First Step: Receive Energy

To begin any Reiki practice, you must activate the energy within yourself. Close your eyes and take a few rounds of deep breaths. Imagine the crown of your head opening and a stream of white light flowing from the top of your head, into your heart, and out through your hands and arms. Ask to be filled up with energy where you need it the most. This way, if you offer Reiki to a friend or family member, you will be full of energy.

As you feel the energy fill you, continue to breathe. If you find your mind becoming scattered or starting to question the process, regroup your mind and come back to your breath. Envision yourself as a vessel for healing, and then set an intention or prayer to receive healing energy of the highest good.

Reiki for Sleep

To give a sleep-focused Reiki session to a loved one, ask the recipient to lie down while you position yourself near their head. Imagine a steady stream of healing light going from your hands into the back of your head, clearing the mind of any pain or discomfort experienced recently.

Ask the recipient to take several deep breaths and slowly count an inhale of 3 seconds and an exhale of 3-5 seconds. Additionally, tell them to slowly navigate through their whole day one memory at a time and to thank each memory before letting it go with each breath.

Allow them to drift off as you continue to channel the energy through your palms and send the healing light into their body. Imagine the body becoming healed, relaxed, and ready for a good night’s rest. You can offer this Reiki session for as long as needed, but 15-30 minutes is most often enough to have the recipient feeling calm and ready for bed.

Reiki for Anxiety

Often, when people are experiencing anxiety and stress, they end up not breathing properly. This shortness of breath just causes more stress and ends up in a domino effect, worsening over time. During the Reiki session to address this, your goal is to channel energy down the recipient’s shoulders and into their body.

Place your hands on their shoulders for 10-15 minutes. Focus on sending energy to their whole body while breathing deeply with them. If the person you’re performing Reiki on is lying down, you can place your hands behind their head for added calmness.

Last Step: Sealing Off Energy

It’s important to offer gratitude, cleanse yourself, and close the energy once you’ve completed a Reiki session. This process can be as simple as stepping back, wiping your hands of any excess energy, and placing them in prayer to thank yourself, the energy, and the recipient for the exchange.

How to Find a Reiki Practitioner Near You

Professional associations are a great way to locate practitioners and teachers who take Reiki very seriously. The Reiki Alliance, the International Reiki Association, and the International Association of Reiki Practitioners offer tools for locating Reiki practitioners in your area.

Before booking a Reiki session, it’s important to know that Reiki is non-invasive and known to be safe, but is not intended to replace doctor-approved treatment plans. It should be used as a supplemental medicine for those who wish to participate.

Have you tried Reiki? How was the experience? Let us know in the comments!

References:

https://www.reiki.org/faqs/what-reiki [1]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19361005/ [2]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28181973/ [3]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20828654/ [4]

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1876382015300664 [5]

http://www.i-scholar.in/index.php/ijpp/article/view/53354 [6]

https://www.liebertpub.com/toc/acm/8/6 [7]

 

The Benefits of Breathwork

Breathwork is a term to describe any type of therapy that utilizes breathing exercises to improve spiritual, physical, and mental health. There are many forms of breathwork used today, and each one employs unique breathing techniques for healing purposes. Breathwork draws from Eastern practices like yoga and Tai Chi, while also incorporating methods from Western psychotherapy.

Typically, breathwork techniques are used to calm your mind, reduce stress, bring clarity and inspiration, and energize your body.1 The practice of breathwork gives your brain’s executive functioning system something to focus on, so you can bypass the mental levels of consciousness and drop into a deeper state of consciousness. This deeper state is where spirit, love, and healing reside. Unlike meditation, breathwork takes you to this place very quickly.2

The History of Breathwork

Breathwork has been practiced in ancient traditions for thousands of years. The word “breath” and “spirit” even share the same origin in many languages. Breathwork practices can be found in many breath-centered meditations in Buddhism and Pranayamas in Yogic practices. Additionally, breathwork was used in Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Qigong, Shamanism, Sufism, and martial arts.3 The majority of these religions and cultures used breathwork for the same reasons as we do today – to alter consciousness for healing, self-discovery, and spiritual purposes.

Modern breathwork was mostly forgotten by Westerners during civilization, but it reemerged in the 1960s thanks to four people: Stanislav and Christine Grof, Leonard Orr, and Sondra Ray. These four individuals created the two original branches of modern-day breathwork known as Holotropic and Rebirthing. Since their creation, many offshoots have been born.

In the 1970s, the popularity of breathwork waned, but in the past five years, it has begun to resurface with a bang. Today, there are more than 50 types of breathwork, all distinct from each other. Some types last 2 minutes, while others last 2 hours. However, they all have one thing in common, which is the focus on conscious breathing in a non-regular pattern to alter the mind-body emotional state.4

The Benefits of Breathwork For Your Health

Deep breathing has many health benefits. Even a few deep breaths a day can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels and increase parasympathetic tone; however, breathwork is very different.5 Breathwork practices can exert even more impressive effects on the body while working differently and oppositely.

Here’s the science behind the magic of breathwork:

  • Alkalizes your blood pH by causing a shift in blood pH following hyperventilation, which is called respiratory alkalosis. We take in oxygen with every inhale, and we release carbon dioxide (CO2) with every exhale. But when we take faster breaths, we rid the body of more CO2. Considering that CO2 is an acidic molecule, hyperventilation reduces acid levels in the blood, resulting in a higher, more alkaline pH.
  • Increases muscle tone due to blood alkalinity. Calcium ions that are floating in the blood bind onto large proteins known as albumin. This starts an increased firing in sensory and motor neurons due to the low-calcium state. The low blood calcium now presents itself in the neurological system as tingling sensations, smooth muscle contractions, and increased muscle tone.6
  • Elevates your mood through hyperventilation and respiratory alkalosis causing a “high” feeling that many people report experiencing during breathwork. It triggers the Bohr Effect, which is when blood pH reduces oxygen delivery to tissues. One minute of hyperventilation causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict, which reduces blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain by 40%. This could be responsible for the deep feeling of well-being.
  • Breathwork has an anti-inflammatory effect due to neurons in the nervous system firing more often during hyperventilation, which releases epinephrine (“adrenaline”). In a 2014 study, Yale Music School found that the adrenaline surge causes the innate immune system to increase its anti-inflammatory activity and dampen its proinflammatory activity.7

Conditions That Can Benefit from Breathwork

The benefits of breathwork can include everything from improved immune function to metabolic functioning, stress management, emotional regulation, and improved quality of life. However, it has been used to aid the following conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Anger issues
  • Depression
  • Labor pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Grief and loss
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

While breathwork is exceptional at treating many conditions, it is also nourishing for those who are already feeling healthy and well. Learning to master the breath can help enhance feelings of love, gratitude, clarity, peace, connection, and insights. As such, breathwork can be a great addition to anyone’s daily routine.

Types of Breathwork

There are many different breathwork modalities, many with similar foundations. Here are a few of the most well-known types of breathwork:

  • Holotropic Breathwork: Stanislav Grof, MD, Ph.D. and his wife, Christina Grof, Ph.D. created this form of breathwork after LSD became illegal in the late 1960s. Dr. Grof had been experimenting with LSD and altered states of consciousness, which led him to the creation of Holotropic Breathwork.8 Benefits include stress relief, personal growth, and increased self-awareness.
  • Rebirthing Breathwork: This form of breathwork was created by Leonard Orr. He gave it the name “rebirthing” because, in his first experience with conscious connected breathing, he experienced memories of his birth.9 Rebirthing breathwork has been known to cause increased creativity and inspirational ideas, along with a sense of clarity.
  • Clarity Breathwork: Dana Dharma and Ashanna Solaris co-founded Clarity Breathwork. Dharma and Solaris are both long-standing breathworkers who bring the energy of the feminine to their training and sessions.10 Clarity Breathwork is similar to Rebirthing Breathwork in that the conscious connected breathing is done laying down for an hour, and additionally, the two have the same benefits.
  • Biodynamic Breathwork: This practice was created by a Licensed Massage Therapist named Giten Tonkov. Biodynamic Breathwork blends deep, connected breathing with movement conscious touch, meditation, emotional release, and body awareness techniques.11 It’s said that Biodynamic Breathwork results in the release of long-held trauma in the brain and body.
  • Transformational Breathwork: Judith Kravitz founded Transformational Breathwork in the mid-70s to release trauma experienced during birth. Most sessions include stomping your feet with your hands on the floor while breathing to release energy.12 The benefits of Transformational Breathwork are similar to Rebirthing, but with the added intention of deepening your connection to your spiritual source. 
  • The Wim Hof Method: This method was invented by the man of the same name, famously known as “The Ice Man.” His breathwork method actively uses conscious breathing as preparation to immerse yourself in ice water for around 3 minutes.13 This is said to increase immune system strength and energy, decrease stress, reduce inflammation of the body, and balance hormone levels.

DIY Beginner Breathwork Techniques

Breathwork is an active form of meditation that can allow you to disconnect from your mind and be guided by your heart and body. As you breathe out, you’ll be working to rid yourself of beliefs, thoughts, and actions that don’t support your personal growth. You’ll be striving towards wholeness and a better ability to handle stress, anxiety, and trauma. There are many breathwork techniques out there, and each one has a unique purpose and effect on the body.

After speaking with your practitioner to ensure that breathwork is right for you, you can try these three beginner techniques:

The 4-7-8

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or having trouble sleeping, give the 4-7-8 breathwork technique a shot. The 4-7-8 will slow the heart rate, bring your consciousness to the present moment, slow the nervous system, and bring forth a feeling of peace.

How to do it: Empty the lungs of air, inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, exhale out of your mouth for 8 seconds, and repeat 4 times. As you put this technique to action, try envisioning your chakras at the center of your body pulling any energy or thoughts that do not serve you well.

The 5-5

Give the 5-5 breathwork technique a go when you’re getting worked up. It can help give you a sense of calmness, and it can be practiced throughout the day. Our natural tendency is to breathe at a rate of 2 to 3 seconds per minute.14 However, the 5-5, or also known as Coherent Breathing, is a conscious breathing practice that aims to slow down your breathing to 4 seconds and then 5 seconds.

How to do it: Focus on the natural rhythm of your breathing to measure out how long your inhales and exhales are. For 1 minute, breathe in for 4 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds. Repeat for 5 seconds, then 6 seconds. If you feel the need, you can continue doing this for up to 10 seconds. Begin with practicing this technique for 5 minutes. However, you can gradually increase this time to around 20 minutes.

The 4-4-4-4

For an energy boost or to reduce stress, try the 4-4-4-4, which is also called Box Breathing or Square Breathing. This technique comes from the Navy Seal and is used to eliminate any stress plaguing their minds and bodies. The 4-4-4-4 slows the heart rate and deepens concentration. It’s best to practice the 4-4-4-4 method in the morning to wake up fully, during the day if you’re feeling rundown, or before a big event that requires your focus.

How to do it: Start by releasing all of the air from your lungs, hold your breath for 4 seconds, then breathe through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath again for 4 seconds, and exhale once again for 4 seconds. Repeat these steps for 5 minutes to reap their benefits.

Seek a Professional’s Recommendation

The risks of breathwork are quite low, but it’s important to always seek a professional’s advice before taking part in any kind of breathwork technique.

Breathwork may not be recommended for those with:

  • Cardiovascular issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Respiratory issues
  • Osteoporosis
  • Psychiatric symptoms
  • A history of aneurysms

It’s also not advised to practice breathwork if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have physical injuries, or have recently undergone surgery. Additionally, with breathwork, there’s a risk that hyperventilation can lead to reduced blood flow, dizziness, and an increase in the chance of heart palpitations.

The use of a reputable medical professional, guide, or teacher can help reduce any risks associated with breathwork.

Tell us – have you tried breathwork before? If so, what techniques?

References:

http://www.philadelphiarebirthing.com/articles/ [1]

https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=NtVEEJwgZ5IC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=breathwork+and+consciousness&ots=zY40JXb_S2&sig=QeFlNAl1EUij0TJcDtco-ZiaJ08#v=onepage&q=breathwork%20and%20consciousness&f=false [2]

https://www.beforenoon.co/blogs/news/guide-to-common-terminology [3]

https://sophia.stkate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1000&context=ma_hhs [4]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/ [5]

https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-balance/hypocalcemia-low-level-of-calcium-in-the-blood [6]

https://drruscio.com/breathwork-techniques-reduce-stress-improve-cognition/ [7]

http://www.stangrof.com/ [8]

https://www.healthline.com/health/rebirthing#:~:text=A%20new%20age%20spiritual%20guru,of%20therapy%20that%20simulate%20birth. [9]

https://claritybreathwork.com/about-dana-and-ashanna/ [10]

https://www.biodynamicbreath.com/about/breathwork-trauma-release-and-healing/ [11]

https://www.transformationalbreath.com/breathwork.aspx [12]

https://www.wimhofmethod.com/ [13]

https://www.verywellmind.com/an-overview-of-coherent-breathing-4178943 [14]

Ayurveda: Doshas and Holistic Benefits

Ayurvedic Medicine, or “Ayurveda” for short, is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. Ayurveda translates as “knowledge of life.” It dates back 5,000 years to the ancient Sanskrit texts, the Vedas. It is said that Ayurveda is an eternal science that first existed in the universal consciousness (Brahma) before it was passed from the creator to the ancient Indian mystics through meditation.1

Ayurveda is a system of healing that evaluates emotional nature, physical constitution, and spiritual outlook in the context of the universe. Additionally, according to the Ayurveda philosophy, people are born with a specific constitution called the Prakriti, and that all life manifests as three different energies, or doshas, known to be Vada, Pitta, and Kapha. Many people tend to have an abundance of at least one or two doshas, but this can fluctuate according to your environment, diet, age, the climate, and many other factors.2

The Vedas

The Vedas are the most ancient texts known to humankind. Ayurveda, in its written form, was first mentioned in the Vedas. The Vedas told Hinduism’s sacred scriptures and are said to be revelations discovered by sages and seers.4

There are four Vedas – the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda. They were written in Sanskrit, which is India’s ancient language. The Vedas detail practices in worship, hymns, rituals, mantras, and ways of life.

Atharva Veda is the latest text to be added to the Vedas, compiled around 900 BCE. It holds 20 books and 730 hymns of about 6,000 stanzas.5 Also within this Veda is India’s ancient medical practice systematically outlined.

The Three Doshas

Those who practice Ayurveda believe that every person is made of five elements found in the universe, which are earth, water, fire, space, and air. These elements combine to form three life forces or energies called doshas that control how the human body works. The Vata dosha combines space and air. The Pitta dosha combines fire and water. And the Kapha dosha combines water and earth.

Everyone inherits a unique mix of doshas, but one is usually stronger than the others. Additionally, each dosha controls a different body function. It is believed that one’s chances of getting sick and the health issues one develops are linked to the balance of one’s doshas.

When the doshas are imbalanced, a person’s state becomes what is known as Vikruti, which can manifest in behavioral or physiological symptoms. The doshas can also affect an individual’s personality and temperament. The concept of Prakriti defines a person’s dosha composition and suggests that each person has a combination of the three doshas.

The doshas can manifest in three states:

  1. Equilibrium is the ideal state when the doshas are in natural proportions to each other.
  2. The increased state is when one of the doshas is greater than the others.
  3. Lastly, the decreased state happens when one of the doshas is lesser than the others or depleted.

An illustration of the Vata, Pitta and Kapha Ayurveda doshas

Source: The Ayurvedic Institute

Vata Dosha

According to Ayurveda, the Vata dosha is the most powerful of the three. It controls many basic body functions, such as cell division and cell signaling.6 The Vata dosha is also in charge of the mind, breathing, blood flow, heart function, and the ability to get rid of waste through the intestines. One can disrupt the Vata dosha by staying up too late and eating too soon after a meal. The Vata dosha is known to promote a healthy balance between thought and emotion while fueling creativity.

If Vata dosha is your main life force, then you may be more likely to develop:

  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • Skin issues
  • Asthma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Pitta Dosha

The Pitta dosha controls metabolism, digestion, and hormones that are linked to appetite. Eating spicy or sour food and spending too much time in the sunlight can disrupt this energy. The Pitta dosha is believed to add luster to the hair, eyes, and skin.

If Pitta dosha is your main life force, then you may be more susceptible to:

  • Heart disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Infections

Kapha Dosha

Muscle growth, body strength and stability, weight, and the immune system are controlled by the Kapha dosha. One can disrupt this energy by eating too many sweets, sleeping during the day, and intaking too much salt. The Kapha dosha promotes positive emotions like love, empathy, understanding, and forgiveness.

Practitioners believe that if the Kapha dosha is your main life force, then you may be prone to develop:

  • Nausea after eating
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma

Bi-Doshic and Tri-Doshic

When an individual is bi-doshic, s/he shares qualities equally with two doshic types. The best way to manage bi-doshic Prakriti is by the season. For example, for Vata-Pitta Prakriti, during autumn, which is Vata season, one would follow a Vata-decreasing routine.

Tri-doshic means that an individual has equal amounts of each dosha. A tri-doshic person is usually very strong, adaptable, and stable when in balance. However, they s/he can experience poor health when out of balance. During these occasions of imbalance, a person can adopt practices to counterbalance negative dietary, emotional, or environmental influences. For example, in autumn, a tri-doshic person would act as if they have a Vata constitution and follow a Vata balancing lifestyle.

To learn more about dosha seasons and lifestyles, click here.

Branches of Ayurveda

In Ayurvedic medicine, 8 different components encompass the body’s holistic system. These 8 branches explain various bodily functions and how to prevent and cure diseases:

  1. Kayachikitsa (internal medicine): Addresses treatment for the whole body with a focus on the digestive system and metabolism. Procedures can be executed internally or externally. An Ayurvedic practitioner may prescribe medications to be taken orally or topically in the form of oils, lotions, and creams.
  2. Baala Chikitsa (treatment for children): Addresses diseases and ailments that manifest in children but also focuses on pre and postnatal care. Treatments may differ as children cannot always articulate their symptoms. However, medicine prescribed is usually pleasant tasting.
  3. Graha Chikitsa (psychiatry): Focuses on problems or diseases of the mind. Some treatments under this branch include herbs, dietary recommendations, deep breathing, yoga, and Mantra Chikitsa, which involves chanting mantras.
  4. Urdhyaanga Chikitsa (upper body): Focuses on health and issues of the upper body, such as the eyes, nose, ears, and throat.
  5. Shalyaroga Chikitsa (surgery): Focuses on surgical procedures and describes surgical instruments such as scalpels and scissors.
  6. Damstra Chikitsa (toxicology): Focuses on the study and remedy of toxins within the body, along with poisons in food and the environment.
  7. Jara Chikitsa (geriatric): Addresses care of the elderly and focuses on treating illnesses brought on by old age. Therapies include strength, memory, longevity, and rejuvenation.
  8. Vajjikaran Chikitsa (reproduction health): Focuses on sexual health and the treatment of many reproductive issues, such as infertility and the lack of essential fluids.

Benefits of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is known as the “Sister Science” to yoga, because both share a common goal, which is to eradicate pain and misery. In Ayurvedic practices, the mind and body not only influence one another but are each other. Ayurvedic studies strive to reconnect us with the energetic consciousness of our true nature. Within this realm of consciousness, everything exists, and anything is possible.

One of the main beliefs of Ayurveda is that the food we eat affects our wellbeing. For example, food can instill a sense of energy and vitality or lethargy and depletion. This is known as the Sattvic approach. Sattvic translates to “pure essence” in Sanskrit and is a diet based on foods that are recommended within Ayurveda. It is one of the purest diets adopted to support optimal wellbeing. The Sattvic diet is designed to be holistic, meaning that it nurtures the mind and the body. It is high in fiber, low fat, and vegetarian. Foods on the Sattvic diet include fruits, juices, sprouted grains, fats, oils, legumes, nuts, seeds, and more.

Practitioners look to Ayurveda for a multitude of other wellness considerations:

  • Encouraging self-love. Ayurveda motivates learning and understanding one’s own uniqueness while teaching about the discovery of one’s own individual needs.
  • Balancing holistic health with environment. Ayurveda beliefs revolve around the concept that being healthy is a human’s natural state. When a human and his/her environment are in balance, then that human has achieved optimal health, and vice versa.
  • Reducing stress. Ayurveda teaches mindfulness which can help to reduce anxiety and stress. Following an Ayurvedic diet and cleansing the mind with meditation or yoga can improve ones sense of inner peace.
  • Managing diet and digestion. Food influences how one feels. Eating for ones dosha can enhance digestive triggers of physical and emotional wellness. Foods eaten at certain times of the day can optimize toxin elimination.
  • Enhancing spirituality. Ayurveda reinforces the belief that we are much deeper than our skin. We are spirits that embody the elements, and we can reap health benefits when our minds, bodies, and souls are in balance.

DIY Ayurveda

Dinacharya plays a major role in Ayurvedic practice. The word Dina translates to “day,” while Charya means to “follow a routine.” According to Ayurveda, certain rituals performed in the morning make for a positive start for the day. These rituals help improve one’s health and one’s appearance, they help keep the body and mind cleansed, and they support high energy levels. Additionally, morning Dinacharya rituals can help eliminate the Ama, or toxins, from your body, for improved health and more radiant hair, skin, and nails.

After consulting with your Ayurvedic practitioner, also known as a Vaidya, you can consider adding these Dinacharya rituals to your morning routine:

  • Wake before sunrise, this is the time when positive energy is at its peak. This is usually easier for a Vata person, but with time, everyone can adjust their body to waking up a bit earlier in the morning.
  • Try cleansing your bladder with a warm glass of water that has a dollop of honey and a squeeze of lime. This will help eliminate the build-up of nightly toxins.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything without brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue first. This will help remove the Ama that accumulates through the night, and it can also help get rid of pesky morning breath.
  • Massage your skin with oils that are suited for your dosha. Once you’ve chosen the recommended oils for your dosha, warm the oil, then gently but firmly massage the oil over your body. Pay extra attention to the soles of your feet, as they contain nerve endings that are connected to important conjunctions of life force energy.
  • Eat a light and healthy breakfast. According to Ayurveda, no single meal is more important than the others, but a healthy breakfast between 6 and 8 AM can help you step into your day happily.

Ayurvedic Professionals Know Best

You should always seek the advice of an Ayurvedic professional before adopting Ayurvedic practices into your routine. The Vaidya can help design a treatment plan that is specifically customized for you by taking into account your doshas, your primary life force, and your unique physical and emotional constitution. Ayurvedic practitioners go through extensive training to provide you with the utmost knowledge to help balance your doshas and optimize your health.

If you’re having trouble finding an Ayurvedic professional, try plugging your information in here to be matched with one near you.

 

If you’d like to learn about the Ayurvedic herbs in Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom Facial Oil, visit our Ingredient Glossary.

 

References:

http://www.tkdl.res.in/tkdl/langdefault/ayurveda/Ayu_Principles.asp?GL=#q6 [1] [3]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215408/ [2]

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/approaches-to-art-history/understanding-religion-art/hinduism-art/a/sacred-texts-in-hinduism [4]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202268/#:~:text=Ayurveda%20is%20an%20Upaveda%20of,main%20body%20of%20the%20Vedas. [5]

ry%20of%20Vata,activities%20of%20Kapha%20and%20Pitta. [6]