Where I live in Maryland the temperatures took a dive over Halloween weekend. “Flannel with a vest season” became “coat and a hat season” very quickly. The weather will probably keep fluctuating for the next several weeks, but this first cold snap, coinciding with a rare blue moon, for me marked the start of Vata season. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian practice of life energy, splits the year into three different seasons. Pitta coincides with light, warm weather found in late spring and summer. Kapha coincides with the cold, heavy, wet weather of late winter and early spring. Vata season is late fall and early winter, characterized by dry, cold, mobile qualities.
Ayurveda can be hard to wrap the western mind around, and I’m no means an expert, but I find that the more I sit with my senses and look, listen to, touch and feel the natural world during these times I notice these shifts. The wind blowing the remaining leaves to the ground, the crunchy sound of stepping on dry leaves, the quality of the dry air as I breathe it in. Vata energy has intellectual and emotional properties too. Well-balanced Vata coincides with creativity and imaginative energy. But Vata that is out of balance or overbearing brings anxiety, stress and worry. You can think of your thoughts much like the fall leaves – they can be vibrant and colorful, changing daily into unique, beautiful artifacts. But when those “thoughts” blow off the trees and swirl round and round with the wind, we can experiences racing thoughts and fear that impede sleep, focus and even our relationships with others.
This is a big week in the U.S. In the midst of a seemingly never-ending, wild year. I know that for some, anxieties are at an all-time high over the outcome of the election. I know that I’ve been waking up around 4 or 5am, way earlier than normal, my thoughts moving at a much faster pace than my body. I’m looking to some Ayurvedic practices to help me through this week and beyond. To balance out overactive Vata energy, I’m moving slowly, doing grounding yoga sequences, walking outside, eating warm fresh foods and drinking warm liquids. I’m curbing the amount of time I spend on my phone and social media. The internet tends to be a swift and furious place during weeks like this – with information and opinions and predictions flying fast. It can be hard to find a grounding experience to take part in.
One of the sources of comfort and media coverage for me this election season has been the podcast Pantsuit Politics hosted by two friends, Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland. Their whole thing is approaching politics through the lenses of compassion and nuance. With backgrounds in law practice, they have an in-depth understanding of what’s at stake. But they approach current events from a very human perspective. Plus they have the most soothing southern accents that remind me of my childhood growing up in Georgia. They are hosting a livestream on Hot Mic the night of the election. I will probably opt for that experience over the network news or the Twitter feeds. How are you taking care of yourself during this Vata season?