How well do you know your inner “fire breathing dragon?”
If you are anything like me and you see this description, you know immediately to what I am referring.
Most of my life I have been fueled by fire, and by passion. At times I have been quick to anger—especially over anything I perceive to be injustice or untruth. I would allow the happenings in my relationships, social circles, work environments, and social injustices that I knew of (either locally or in the media) to affect me, to too large a degree at times.
Like many of you, I can barely tolerate seeing other people hurting as a result of greed, lies, entitlement, elitism and blatant misuse of power.
Though I had the ability, in many debates or arguments, to react in a viper-quick manner, I unfortunately lacked compassion for others (and sometimes myself), and couldn’t always discern which battles to choose. I didn’t have the wisdom to know how all of this was affecting even my own energy and health, and developed a serious digestive disease too early in life, which I personally believe is related.
For the most part, I feel that my intentions lay somewhere on the side of “good,” but the problem how I approached things—from a place of imbalance—and I’ve realized that there many healthier and more effective ways to go about creating change.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, my primary constitution, or dosha, is Pitta. We all have a constitution that says a lot about our personalities, body types and holistic traits. The Pitta constitution is the element of fire.
While there are two other constitutions—that of Vata (air) and Kapha (earth), we all typically have a blend of all three, with one being primary, and we also have the propensity to fall into an imbalance, into a dosha that is either an extreme version of our original constitution or one that is not of our original make-up.
We all know a bit about fire, right?
A contained and balanced fire is healthy and useful. After all, we use this fire in our bodies as a means for digestion. Fire is universally known for transformation and purification—as in truth. Fire is passion, drive and what can fuel us to accomplish goals and aspirations.
But, when this is not balanced—when the fire rages out of control or is not contained, channeled or directed, we can burn ourselves, others, or an entire situation to the ground. This results in nothing but ruins and thick black smoke that prevents us from seeing clearly what is occurring, and what has occurred. Finding balance is an important undertaking beyond the goals of personal health and balance, because it contributes to the greater good of this world.
We know that fighting fire with fire is typically not a viable or sustainable solution. We can see the effects of this in our personal relationships, in wars which our world is experiencing, in the studies of positive psychology and even the spiritual teachings that we occasionally see on t-shirts and countless social media memes.
We have the option to simmer down.
Instead of breathing fire and setting things ablaze as we go along, we can calm ourselves, find that balance, and learn to channel the fire that fuels us. We can ration our energy and instead maintain our own small flame, which can be helpful in what is sometimes a dark world.
The science of Ayurveda has many examples of how to holistically restore balance.
We can avoid foods that aggravate it—such as spicy foods—and choose to eat more cooling foods such as cucumbers. We can choose forms of exercise that are less intense. We can spend more time near water and use coconut oil on our skin. These are just a few examples that I found to be helpful, but I would encourage you to consult ayurvedic specialists and to use your own intuition and discover what works for you.
We can also choose how much media we allow ourselves to be exposed to—if this is as aggravating for you as it was for me. This is not a means of avoidance or ignorance, just a matter of discernment, and drawing a line when exposure leads to imbalance—especially when “choosing our battles.” We cannot fight them all.
When things happen, whether personally, or to others, or even to populations of people, and we find ourselves feeling a bit too fiery, we can be aware of it and then redirect it.
A few months ago, I had somebody something that I considered to be hurtful and wrong.
Instead of getting defensive and fighting back as I would have once done, I intentionally chose to turn this fire into something good. I brought my system back into a balanced state, both mentally and physically, and then made a list of things that I wanted to do with my life going forward. I used this energy to propel myself toward goals that stemmed from love for myself as well as others.
Fire is fire, but the intention behind our use of it is where the true power lies.
I believe that we can use our fire to spread light in the world, but this can only be done if we are balanced and our actions are not stemming from anger, which originates from fear.
Fighting fear with fear is no more effective than fighting fire with fire.
So, we can change our perspective. We can soften. We can take on that warrior persona but still have love and peace in our eyes and hearts.
We can use our fire to fuel compassion for those who are hurting, and as difficult as it can be, even for those who are inflicting harm. Understanding they’re also suffering from hurt and loss enables us to not be afraid.
Once we tame that inner fire-breathing dragon, we can really begin to heal both ourselves and others. If there is love, compassion and wisdom behind our fire, it can be as healing and soothing as that of water—to ourselves, and to the rest of our world.
Author: Katie Vessel
Editor: Catherine Monkman