How do we digest Life?

We have less ability to digest food when our mind is improperly digesting life’s experiences!

Mind and body are not separate entities but are deeply interrelated. The mind can affect the wellbeing of the body, just as the condition of the body can affect the quality and state of mind. There is an intimate relationship between the brain and stomach which means that digestion responds to thoughts and emotions.

The healing tradition of Ayurveda teaches that health and wellbeing depend upon our ability to digest everything we receive from the environment. This includes food and drink, experiences and emotions as well as the sensory input through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin.

Agni is the Sanskrit term for “digestive fire”.  Agni breaks down food and experiences, assimilating what is useful and eliminating the rest.  When digestive ability is strong, healthy tissues are created, waste products are effectively eliminated and a subtle essence called ojas is produced. Ojas is experienced as our innermost vital essence and our enthusiasm for life. Ojas is the basis for clarity of perception, immunity, overall strength – physical, mental and spiritual, as well as the glow of our aura!

If agni is weakened through improper eating, lack of activity, turbulent emotional states or an unhealthy daily routine, digestion will become compromised. This produces toxins – ama – which are stored in the body and is the root cause of dis-ease.  Whether you are dealing with weight issues or uncomfortable symptoms such as IBS, bloating, gas, acid reflux or indigestion, the underlying root problem is weak agni, or poor digestion.

Ayurveda recommends a variety of practical tips to keep agni strong. By including these practices in your daily life, you can strengthen agni, improve nutrient absorption and food metabolism, treat uncomfortable digestive symptoms, digest life experiences and enhance your overall sense of vitality:

  • Meditate daily – regular practice helps restore balance to your body/mind, including the processes which control digestion. Meditation is also an effective way to manage stress.
  • Regular exercise – whether it is a little yoga every morning or a short daily walk, this aids digestion and controls sugar spikes.
  • Don’t overeat – when you overeat, your body cannot break down food properly. Your body will also produce more acid, causing reflux and indigestion which leads to gas, discomfort or bloating. Ayurveda recommends that you leave ¼ of your stomach empty to allow space for the digestive process.
  • Sip ginger tea throughout the day – ginger is known as a “universal remedy” due to its many medicinal properties. Ginger relaxes the smooth muscles of the intestine which relieves symptoms of gas and cramping and strengthens digestion.
  • Eat your largest meal at lunchtime – your body is most able to digest food at midday, when you are active and digestive fire is at its strongest. In the evening your body is slowing down and preparing for sleep. If you eat your biggest meal at dinner, when agni is weaker, you can feel heavy and bloated and have difficulty falling asleep.
  • Practice letting go of turbulent emotions – have you noticed how emotions effect your digestion? You may get heartburn or lose your appetite when you feel stressed or feel nauseous before a big presentation…

Unprocessed emotions can put a strain on the natural digestive process and lead to chronic digestive issues. By learning how to manage stress and release emotional turbulence, you help your digestive system work naturally and efficiently.  Look out for next month’s newsletter in which I talk about emotional intelligence.

Proper digestion, with a strong agni, plays a central role in your physical and emotional wellbeing.  By making wise choices that strengthen your digestive ability, you form the foundation for good health and vitality.

If any of this resonates with you and you’d like to learn how to meditate, need nutritional treatment or transpersonal counselling to help access and ‘digest’ emotions, please email me for more information and to book a session.