Sunday, August 21, 2011

Balancing the mind and body

There is definately a correlation between stress, fatigue, burnout, thinking too much, not getting outdoors enough and time spent using with technology (TV, computer, phone, video games..). The more time that is spent indoors on a nice day, or in front of the computer, the more a subtle, anxious energy builds up. Pitta, or fire in Ayurvedic terms, or rajas in Vedic terms. There is an imbalance that builds when the body is very inactive and the mind is very active.

The average person spends hours in front of a computer or rushing on the job, both of which speed up brainwaves, then comes home and plops in front of the TV to "rest". We become exhausted from mental exertion, and we zone out in front of the TV, relaxing the body, but keeping the mind sped up, and since we are tired, the mind absorbs all of the imagery like a sponge.

To balance this split between mind and body, try getting movement outside as much as possible, while relaxing the mind by not actively thinking. Enjoy gardening, yardwork, walking, cycling, or hiking for example, or take your yoga practice outside. Whenever possible incorporate practical tasks as to get the job done and not make more "things to do" to stress you out later. Life can be your gym if you embrace it- between chores and outdoor hobbies one can stay very active and fit physically.

It seems that if our physical exertion can match our mental exertion, we start to feel balanced, and after a session, maybe 15-60 enjoyably vigorous (to our own definition) minutes, we are integrated and rejuvenated. We can then relax more fully. Our mind can be more still, even as we move through the rest of our day.

That is why at the culmination of our yogasanas, after the cleansing of pranayama, we are most open to meditation. After we tense and finally release, we are more clear, the lake of the mind more calm, and we can see the bottom more easily.

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