Relationships, whether they be with your family, friends, partner(s), co-workers, passersby, or yourself can be complicated – and rightfully so, we are so complex! We are an accumulation of our ancestors, relatives, past lives, and of course, we are on our own trajectory as well. And while we are all doing the best we can with the tools we have, what if there were more tools? What if you could have more awareness, compassion, patience, and non-attachment? This is possible, and Ayurveda can help!
It’s always best to begin with yourself, the ultimate relationship – after all, you can’t give what you don’t have. From an Ayurvedic perspective, it starts with understanding your dosha. Are you predominantly vata (air and space), pitta (fire and water), kapha (earth and water), or perhaps you resonate with two or more of the doshas? Each of us are comprised of all of the elements, however, depending on your stage of life, the season, and even from moment-to-moment, your dosha can vary. Your learning style may also be an influencer, and worth examining as well.
To bring simplicity to your ever-changing mind and body, you can start by leaning into your patience. Depending on your dosha, patience could either come naturally to you, or you may have a short temper, or you could have a tendency to move quickly from one thing to the next.
If patience comes naturally to you, you likely identify more with kapha dosha, which has more of the earth and water elements. Kapha predominant individuals have a tendency to be easy going, compassionate and they enjoy supporting others. If you have a tendency to get upset, you likely identify more with pitta dosha which has more of the fire and water elements. When out of balance, pitta predominant individuals can become angry and be judgmental. Lastly, if you find yourself racing from one thought or task to the next, you likely have more of an affiliation with vata dosha. Vata is comprised of the air and space elements which means, when you’re out of balance, you may respond to challenging situations, like having patience with fear or anxiety.
Patience is well known for being a virtue because it can be difficult to achieve, after all, it takes patience to build patience (!) so start small. Meditation is a lovely gateway to expand your patience. Begin with five minutes, at the same time every day and work your way up to 15 minutes. It’s exceptionally peaceful when done in the morning when the sun rises and/or in the evening when the sun sets.
As you build patience, you may also start to notice you have more compassion for yourself and others. Again, depending on your dosha, this may come more naturally to you or it may be challenging. If it comes more naturally to you, you may identify more with vata or kapha dosha. If you have more vata in your mind and body you have a natural tendency to be emotionally sensitive and empathetic. If you identify more with kapha dosha, you lead with love and have a large capacity to hold space for others. If pitta is your predominant dosha and you are out of balance, you may find it challenging to relax and accept others. And while it may come more naturally to you if you identify more with vata and kapha, if there’s an imbalance, you too can find it difficult to have compassion for yourself and others.
One way you can build compassion is by adding sweetness to your life. The more sweet and soft moments you have, the more compassionate you can be. Sweetness can come in many forms (all associated with your senses): taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound. For example, eating doshic friendly fruits, spending time in nature, being hugged, smelling sweet essential oils, and listening to soothing music will help increase the sweetness in your mind and body.
These sweet and soft moments give you the opportunity to slow down, create more space in your life, and change your perspective to one with more compassion.
Once life begins feeling more spacious, you’ll have more capacity to think outside of yourself and may begin to notice a heightened sense of awareness. Perhaps the once mundane feels more like magic and you begin noticing the interconnectedness of everything and everyone. You have trust that the right things are happening at the right time and life expands with joy. You’re becoming an observer of your experience and you begin reacting less to external circumstances. You may observe how Ayurveda is already in your life…
Your dosha will help determine your experience. If you identify more with vata, this spacious way of being is easily accessible to you, however, if you are out of balance, you may find it difficult to slow your racing thoughts to allow the sweetness of life to encompass you. If you identify more with the qualities of pitta, your sharp mind may be so focused on what you’re trying to accomplish, you may not be open to receiving other experiences. If you are predominantly kapha and out of balance, you may lose your sense of wonder and feel weighed down by the world.
One way to increase your awareness is by turning off your electronics in the evening and exploring what else you can do with your time and notice how you feel. At first, you may feel uncomfortable but if you allow it to unfold, there are many rewards on the other side. Another option is to be an observer of your surroundings. Allow yourself to be fascinated by other people, notice the beauty of movement – whether it be ants crawling, trees swaying, or a paper bag dancing in the wind, it’s an opportunity to sync into the rhythms that surround you.
Once you begin having more awareness and become more of an observer of your experience you may also start to notice if you have any attachments. Attachments can show up in different areas of your life as a person, place, or thing – it could be a routine, an addiction, or a feeling. Depending on your dosha this can manifest in different ways. If you identify mostly with vata, you easily move from one thing to the next, however, if you’re out of balance, fear and anxiety could be determining your actions. Pitta types have a tendency to be competitive and attached to outcomes, where kapha individuals are likely to become overly sentimental and find change difficult.
One way to let go of control and live with more flow is to allow life to become one big YES. You can do this through the use of your awareness. For example, the next time something unexpectedly changes, notice how your mind and body feel. Is there tension, anger, or sadness? If so, imagine what it would look like if you said, YES and accepted it. Notice how your mind and body feel now. You may feel more open, light, and clear. Of course, saying YES to everything isn’t feasible, however, it’s nice to explore your options. When you change your perspective your possibilities increase and you begin to flow without feeling like you’re losing control.
By developing a better relationship with yourself, your other relationships will naturally change and you can use the wisdom of Ayurveda to understand others. For example, when someone is out of balance, they may want to talk about it, focus on something else, need your advice or they may just want to vent. With this in mind, you can use the doshas as a gateway to understanding what they may need.
If someone is showing up with more vata qualities like fear and anxiety, perhaps you can help ground and nurture them back into balance by making them a warm meal, encouraging their creativity or listening to soothing music together. If someone is presenting more pitta qualities and is out of balance, perhaps you can help cool them down by creating time for fun and laughter, volunteering, or spending time in nature together. If someone has a kapha imbalance, perhaps you can encourage them to try something new, go for a walk together, or listen to what’s on their mind.
Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to bring ourselves into balance, however, with the help of Ayurveda, we can navigate the dynamics of our relationships from a healthy perspective.
All material provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Direct consultation of a qualified Ayurvedic Health Counselor should be sought for any specific questions or issues.