Fourth of a five-part series on the ancient wisdom tradition and logic of Ayurveda.
The Basics of Being Human
By Bhaswati Bhattacharya
At the end of each day, we have the choice to give up when we are tired. We have the choice to drown our sorrows in mind-numbing substances or self-pity, to pushing ourselves just a bit harder beyond our limit as punishment, or break down and cry for what we did not achieve.
We also have the choice to give gratitude and see the multitude of factors that needed to come together to allow whatever successes we had today. If we are not good at calculations, we can simply marvel at the many fiascos that might have happened, that did not.
If we crashed, we can choose to see that the universe is conspiring to help us learn new skills and new lessons so that we can later accept the successes that are waiting for us. We can choose to see that the universe waits for us to place our palms upward toward the sky so that we can receive the rains of abundance.
Some say such biased optimism is delusional, that we should be realistic. They are critical against non-realistic standards, propagating negativity and taking credit for predicting when things would go wrong. They blame others for being idealistic.
When we are hard on ourselves, we are echoing the patterns of people who become tired. They experienced loss and saw it as failure. The pain of such failures was interpreted by them as a punitive lesson, as a warning, so they taught everyone around them to be wary, to have fear of loss, to avoid risks. The sense of punishment became a way of life, to prevent people from making mistakes from reckless courage. Mistakes only hurt when fragile egos are driving; otherwise, the mistakes turn instantly into lessons and awareness of vibrations and the need to position oneself differently.
Ayurveda whispers to us to know ourselves inside. Only then can we know what our limits are, what our special skills are, what truly matters to us. Ayurveda gently nudges us to rest when we are tired; work will always be there. Find someone to watch the children so you can rest, and create a life where you are supported for your responsibilities, so you can rejuvenate. When we are tired, Ayurveda says it is a lesson that we are not fueling ourselves correctly.
When we get tired, we should not lose our footing or be tempted onto another person’s path or drown our sorrows. Many use substances that feel good but harm the mind or body; do not fall prey, as this is part of finding the inner path of strength. In moments of confusion, we might go inside and reconnect with the roots of our own story for this life, which we will know as our dharma. Listening to the guidelines of tired people, who went beyond their personal limit and got injured, is not the way for people who want to live a wholesome and worthy life.
Ayurveda tells us that when we get tired, we must rest deeply to rejuvenate our body and our mind. Daily rituals known as dinacharya incorporate this need for rest after every indulgence. Talking too much, such as in a lecture, a loud party, or a long discourse with friends requires us to be quiet for some time. Eating too much requires us to spend some time in fasting. Too much time in the sun requires cool, dark time and replenishing the water within us. Postures of yoga that are too advanced for our bodies injures the muscles and tendons. Drinking too much alcohol requires us to remoisten from the over-astringence with which we made our body suffer. Listening to our body, we learn what is too much and what is too little, for our individual self.
Not understanding our own limit is one of the most abusive things we can do to ourselves. Connection with our inner self anchors us to knowing our own limit. A voice rings out when enough is reached, whether food, water, intense conversation, TV, sex, work, service to others, exercise, or drink. If we do not listen to that voice, because we are disconnected or busy listening to others, we lose our chance to take the perfect direction for our own self. Most of our favorite heroes are those who listen to their inner voice.
After a hard day, embracing the sense of failure is a choice. To use tools developed by our ancestral wisemen is also a choice. Every night make that choice. Spend time with your loved ones in the evening and silently support their challenges and decisions by witnessing the events of their day. Help them hear themselves and process their choices so they can interpret the lessons, veering away from failure. Wonderful events interpreted as blessings and not as personal triumphs prevent feeding the ego. Listen to your own inner voice, the one that reminds you of the good things you did today. The things that supported your dreams and helped others are the building blocks of connection and support. We anchor our own power when we invest in knowing ourselves rather than external measures of success; experience that place of fulfillment….. and watch what happens.