In ayurveda anxiety and depression can be healed the same way. Anxiety is a more rajasic state of mind and depression is more tamasic. If you want to apply doshas, vata and pitta are going to lean more anxiety and kapha is going to lean more depression.
So how does ayurveda start to heal these opposite (and sometimes oscillating) states of mind? By strengthening the mind, building it back to sattva.
One way to tell if you have a strong mind is to look at your tolerance to “pain” – physical pain, mental pain, or even a “painful” change in your schedule. How easily can you handle such things will be a good guide to mental strength.
There are herbs and balancing techniques in ayurveda for mental imbalances, but you can begin to strengthen the mind without even calling your ayurvedic counselor!
Some of my favorite ways to strengthen mind are yoga, chanting and sanskrit. I honestly think that regular practices like these will create abundance of mental strength, peace and happiness.
My own personal practices include asana with long steady breath, pranayama, meditation, chanting and sanskrit class/studies.
Our minds take a beating every day and are just like our bodies – they wear out, especially if not replenished. And by wearing out, I mean they can more easily get stuck in rajas and tamas and lose focus. Speaking of nourishment, besides the brain food I mentioned above, it is also very important to keep ojas from depleting. No ojas, no mind.
I love that when I finish my own weekly Sanskrit class, our teacher asks us to check in and see how our mind feels. I can tell you – complete peace, like I just got out of the “mind spa” where it got treated to “mind massages” and was completely pampered and rejuvenated.
Is your mind hungry? Is it agitated? Depleted? Here are some items on the mind menu:
1. Gently spend time in nature – walk around Red Butte Garden, go to the mountains. This will increase prana – prana vaha srotas and mano vaha srotas play well together.
2. Practice using complete awareness in your activities. Actually taste the apple when you eat it. Feel the ground under your feet when you walk. Smell the air when you walk outside your front door.
3. Dig out your Yoga Sutras book and start studying again. Chant the sutras!
4. Have a mindful practice – one that takes you into the “zone”. Focus. You can try painting, dancing, writing, or learning a new language. Hell, go skiing.
5. Stand in tadasana for a bit before doing your yoga practice, trying to find stillness of body first then mind. Maybe even try it on your tippy toes.
6. Just sit. Do nothing except sit up tall. Be comfortable – use the floor, chair or bolster. Relax. Even relax your face, jaw, eyes. Don’t mess with the thoughts – just let them come in and out, although you can use an object of focus – the breath coming in and out of the nostrils, the heartbeat, or a single word to return the mind to a more relaxed place.
The mind can get a little squirrelly with all of the responsibilities, depletion, travel, social media and struggles we endure in the modern age. Feed your mind each day, just like you do your body and you’ll see healing at all levels! And if you want to go to the “mind spa” too, hit me up – I just may do a Sanskrit workshop soon!