When mental clarity and focus are a challenge, it is difficult to live to our fullest. Increased vata is often associated with inhibited concentration, however sugar imbalances (more often associated with increased pitta or kapha) can also play a role.Continue Reading >
Yesterday, I spent six hours in front of my computer screen. The day before it was seven. Today won’t be any less; I’m pushing deadlines and have chosen to be an internet educator and writer, so the screen is my office portal. I’m also in my 60’s, a digital immigrant, former hippie (well I guess there is nothing former about it), RN, Ayurvedic Educator, yogi, skier, hiker, and avid gardener. All that is to say I am deeply connected to nature—the sun, moon, and stars are my guiding lights, the earth nourishes my very being.
The virtual world brings us a unique evolutionary circumstance. The internet, smartphones, and social media are massive social, emotional, and biological experiments, and they are here to stay. I use them to navigate my world. Being an internet educator allowed me to tend to my aging parents who lived 2,000 miles away, and allows me to be with my grandchildren, working while they nap. These technologies let me live rurally and travel the world while maintaining my business. I embrace them with curiosity, a healthy skepticism, and a steely awareness of their effect on me. Like any budding non-dualist, I stay away from condemnation of these experiments, and use my experiences of them to inform me.
Vata & Technology
The elements of the virtual world are ether and air. Prana, the life force, flows virtually as we exchange information and energy with the internet and our phones. But that prana is ungrounded, dispersed, and often undirected. The result? Aggravated vata dosha, the primary imbalance of our time. You know the symptoms—anxiety, fear, confusion in the mind, constipation, bloating, and cravings in the GI tract. Dry skin, chapped lips, brittle nails, cold hands and/or feet, mental restlessness, and wakeful nights are all a result of excess vata.
As you can imagine, aggravated vata is rampant, and basically robs our quality of life. Additionally, vata increases with age (I was born in 1954), so anyone not in the business of managing vata is missing the boat—literally, aggravated vata makes us late for everything! If you’re unsure if vata is out of balance for you, or exactly what you can do about it, check out the Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz, which will take out the guesswork and show you what your imbalance is right now.
Ways to Stay Grounded
Given the excess of ether and air that screen time exposes us to, here are practical steps from Yoga and Ayurveda to balance these two vata elements:
- Each work day, set a clear intention to stay balanced—speak it, write it.
- Work in 50 minute intervals, and use a timer to hold yourself accountable. Get up and move for 5–10 minutes between each interval.
- Incorporate grounding herbs into your routine. Healthy Vata is loaded with organic adaptogens to help your body adapt to stress and overstimulation.
- Hydrate with water throughout the day, not just coffee! Try to drink half your ideal body weight in water.
- Eat a vata pacifying diet, rich in whole foods, spices, and root veggies.
- Stand while working on your keyboard when possible. While you’re standing, ground down through the four corners of your feet, connecting to the earth element.
- Favor yoga poses that encourage apana vayu (one of the five movements of prana). An easy option is Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana) with lengthened exhales.
- Use salt lamps, crystals, and rocks in your work area to add the earth element to your environment.
- See and feel your favorite earthy places: mountains, trails, beaches, oceans, meadows, and trees. Go there often in your mind's eye, and find a nature-inspired desktop image!
- Cultivate the quality of your attention. Be one pointed as you work. Turn off your phone, minimize the number of tabs or screens you have open. Develop a deep presence for the task at hand, as if you were giving a dear friend your full attention. Focus liquid extract can help you hold your attention if you’re looking for extra support.
- Turn off all screens, and minimize artificial light in your home for 30–60 minutes before bed. And treat yourself to a grounding foot massage with Brahmi Coconut Oil as you’re winding down for bed.
- Take a walk in the dark, eyes wide open, absorbing the absence of light. Gaze at the stars and moon as if you were a child.