Our human design sends messages from the brain throughout the body.
The messages shift to change inside and outside the body, guiding what you think, feel, and do. There are cycles to our natural responses to human life; however, when we stay locked in the messaging loop for long periods of time, it affects our overall well-being.
So what is controlling us? Let’s explore the nervous system.
We refer to the nervous system as the command center because it controls nearly all the activities in the body, including ones we don’t have to think about. It is constantly sending messages to our body and by that, creating how we feel and respond. It directly influences our emotions, digestion, aging, memory, thoughts, movement, and sensory intake.
Ayurveda connects the nervous system to the Vata Dosha of air and ether, whose qualities are light, dry, mobile, rough, subtle, and cold. In order to regulate the nervous system, we have to look at the Vata Dosha and learn to heal, nourish, and create balance through our daily practices and routines.
In addition, the nervous system governs our fight-or-flight mode. When we are stressed or experience deep levels of anxiety, we go into our sympathetic nervous system, where we experience several body functions that are designed to protect us. However, when we continue to be stressed and remain in fight-or-flight, we experience a series of depletion, challenges, and shifts to our body systems.
Healing and regulating the nervous system is the key to living a balanced and conscious life. When people experience emotional, spiritual, or physical turmoil in their lifetime, it can cause cycles of stress, fear, grief, and unconscious behaviors. The nervous system continues to send impulses to the body, mind, and gut through the patterned fight-or-flight system that has been imprinted because of these lived experiences.
In order to return to reality and feel safe and at home in the body, we must learn how to regulate our nervous system so the messages are smooth, calming, and true. In order to repattern our command center, committing to daily practices that provide deep nourishment, calm environments, soothing activities, and natural living can support this healing process.
Be patient. It takes time to address these deeper layers, but the freedom that is available when we land in our healed, healthy, and calm bodies is true freedom and the gateway to living a balanced and conscious life.
Ayurvedic lifestyle guidance to nourish and balance the nervous system:
Ayurvedic warm oil massage
This self-massage technique with warm oil is one of Ayurveda’s beloved daily routines. Oil is a natural part of our skin, offering us a protective layer and hydration. By applying warm oil to the skin, it energizes the lymph, blood, and energy in the body. It also benefits the joints, muscles, and skin elasticity, as our skin is our largest organ. Incorporating this ancient practice offers deep nourishment, balance, and longevity to the body. In addition, with the Vata Dosha being cold and dry, the oil offers the opposite qualities, helping to support a more balanced nervous system and overall well-being.
Pranayama and meditation
Meditation offers a time to be still and gain awareness of the mind and recurring thoughts, helping to destress and calm the mind and the nervous system. Pranayama, or breathwork, opens the pranic or energy pathways to help purify the mind and body.
By concentrating on the breath, the mind becomes still, and the breath offers deep healing and transformation. Explore daily meditation, beginning with five to ten rounds of alternate nostril breathing, followed by natural inhalation and exhalation. If the mind wanders off, return to the breath again.
Connect with nature
The natural environment offers many healing qualities. Taking time to connect to nature, breathing in the prana and feeling the connection to the earth is grounding and clearing. The pace of walking, the rhythmic steps, and our breathing allows the nervous system and mind to relax, with time, releasing the stimulating impulses of everyday life. Being immersed in nature connects us to the cycles of nature, the natural intelligence, which is at the core of all life. It reminds us who and what we are, cultivating a sense of peace and connection, and allowing the power of prana to flow through everything.
Healthy sleep routine
Having a daily sleep routine is how we relax, restore, and renew. This influences our overall health and longevity. When and how much we sleep affects our physiology—the brain, body, tissues, and digestion. When we don’t have a healthy sleep cycle, or go to bed for a certain time and sleep for seven to eight hours, it takes a toll on our body’s natural intelligence to destress, detox, and restore during the night.
People speak of “a second wind” that energizes them to continue to stay awake after 10 p.m. Yes, a fresh wave of energy begins then; however, that energy is to be used internally, activated by the Pitta Dosha from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., in order to assimilate, process, and transform. When we remain awake during these hours, we use that energy externally, causing deeper depletion over time and disrupting all body systems. The best practice is to sleep from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., waking up within one hour of sunrise, optimizing the natural intelligence of nature and our own innate cycles.
Eat moist, oily, fresh, whole foods
The vitality of our food choices is important and translates directly to the integrity of our tissues and emotional stability. There is prana, or life force/vitality in our food. The closer the food is to its original form, such as the case with fresh produce, the more vitality it has.
Eating warm, moist cooked meals supports the nervous system and healthy digestion by assimilating grounding and easy to digest nourishment. This, in turn, helps to heal the body tissues and create new healthy tissues. It also balances the Vata Dosha that governs the nervous system.
Explore the healing benefits of natural oil to balance the dry qualities—for example, ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil, in cooking and as a garnish. Try to eat fresh, organic, and seasonal whole foods, and avoid frozen, processed, packaged foods, and leftovers.
Mindful and peaceful meal times
What, when, why, where, and with whom are all important things to consider with each meal. Mindful eating offers an opportunity to be fully present with your food, allowing your energy and awareness to align with how potent and influential each meal is for your overall health and well-being.
Best practices are to eat only when hungry; this ensures that the digestive fire is ready to assimilate, process, and transform the food. Try eating in a calm environment sitting down. Avoid screens during meals and any aggravating or emotional interactions.
Food directly influences the integrity of your tissues, your hormones, your mood, your vitality, and your longevity. How you eat is the key to the process in which the food becomes you. Next time you sit down to a meal, try saying a gratitude prayer for the nourishing food and recognize its healing power.
Regular daily routine
A daily routine is essential to providing a dynamic framework for harmonizing the body, mind, and spirit. It supports the biological rhythm, healthy digestion, strong immune system, deep sleep, and inner peace of the body. It also provides a foundation for calming the nervous system and quieting the mind.
By aligning with natural guiding principles, we tune our body’s daily rhythms into a higher governing intelligence. The daily rhythm focuses on when we wake up, when we eat, when we work, and when we sleep, and of course, when we do our daily self-care routine. The consistent timing of these daily routines provides a stable and harmonizing support for the entire body’s systems.
What messages are we receiving? Are they true, are they loving, are they freeing? Try incorporating these daily rituals to nourish your nervous system and create more ease and grace throughout your every day.