The Social Media Detox - Yoga & Ayurveda Principles

 

The Social Media Detox 
By now, we are all aware that social media has a tremendous impact on our culture and the world-at-large. Social media has offered the wonderful opportunity for people to re-connect with their old friends and acquaintances. However, at the same time, has social media given us a false sense of connection? According to Cornell University professor, Steven Strogatz, social media sites can make it more difficult for us to distinguish between meaningful relationships we foster in the real world, and the numerous casual relationships formed through social media. By focusing so much of our time and energy on these somewhat less meaningful relationships, our most important connection, he fears, will weaken.

“What’s on your mind?”, asks FB.

We live in a world overrun by stress and anxiety. Although one could argue that feeling overstimulated is a result of anxiety, it also could be that the overstimulation is actually causing our anxiety. Overstimulation is defined as a state of over-arousal or being stimulated to an excessive degree which can actually damage the brain. Yep. This is serious. Therefore, the next time Facebook asks, “what’s on your mind?” - the answer should be ... “nothing”.

"What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains." - Author Nicholas Carr

 

"Most of us are on the Internet on a daily basis and whether we like it or not, the Internet is affecting us. It changes how we think, how we work, and it even changes our brains. We interviewed Nicholas Carr, the author of, "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains," about how the Internet is influencing us, our creativity, our thought processes, our ideas, and how we think." - Epipheo

The Social Media Detox:
1. Unplug - Pratyahara
2. Breathe - Pranayama
3. Nourish The Body
4. Protect The Brain
5. Enhance The Mind

For real rejuvenation to be possible, one should generally reduce all physical activity and exercise for at least a few days. Likewise, one should start with spending more time in nature or consider a retreat in nature or simply visiting an ashram.

 

1. Unplug
Rejuvenation of the mind rests firmly upon stillness. Interestingly, each one of us inherently possess the capacity to access and harness higher forms of energy within which is more than what we would normally access from the outer world. For example, pratyahara, which literally means “withdrawal” is a yogic practice which helps to provide a state of deep relaxation in which the nervous system can be rejuvenated. After all, silence, rest, solitude, or simply just unplugging and letting go - are all the foundation for deep relaxation and rejuvenation.

Eight Limbs of Yoga:

  1. Yama : Universal morality
  2. Niyama : Personal observance
  3. Asanas : Body postures
  4. Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  5. Pratyahara : Control of the senses
  6. Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  7. Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
  8. Samadhi : Union with the Divine

 

Unplugging.
Pratyahara is often compared to a turtle withdrawing its limbs into its shell– the turtle’s shell is the mind and the senses are the limbs. Therefore, simply close your eyes, relax your jaw, and bring your focus and attention inwardly. As you will soon come to realize, the breath and the mind are interrelated and by becoming more increasingly aware of the breath, the senses of the outer world soon begins to diminish.

"Just as a tortoise withdraws its limbs, so when a man withdraws his senses
from the sense objects, his wisdom becomes steady."
-Bhagavad Gita

Note:
Sense withdrawal means that the senses cease to be engaged or connected to the objects traveling in the train of the mind. It does not mean the suppression, repression, or stopping of those thoughts. They may naturally slow down or decrease to some degree, but the method itself is to break the contact, to cease connecting with the thought patterns. This means allowing thoughts to flow without interruption, while the senses are simply not diverted into those thoughts.

You will notice that as the senses withdraw, the mind awakens and becomes far more sensitive and intuitive. This newly awakened mind with greater sensitivity will now intuitively want to avoid overstimulation of the senses and will naturally just want to “be” - and what is a more natural state of being than breathing?

 

2. Honor Your Breath
According to Vedic text, we are given at birth a certain number of breaths as part of our human endeavor and the basis for living longer is - breathing slower. The fundamental aspect of life is the act of breathing and in Ayurvedic & Yogic thought, the breath is not just the air and the action of the lungs. Instead, the breath provides the life-force [“prana”] which is the subtle energy that vitalizes and rejuvenates us every moment of the day. That said, pranayama or yogic breathing is probably the most important rejuvenating practice that we can do on a daily basis. Therefore, after unplugging from the world of overstimulation it is now time to learn how to breathe in life-giving prana.

Take Notice Of Your Breath:

  • sit comfortably on a chair with your feet slightly apart
  • place your palms on the abdomen
  • feel how your abdomen expands as you inhale
  • feel how your abdomen contracts as you exhale
  • slowly breathe in deeper; slowly breathe out completely
  • bring your attention to this rhythm of life

 

Congratulations.
You are now becoming more aware.

 

3. Nourish The Body
Now that you are becoming more aware, let us now nourish the body and mind. According to Ayurveda, longevity and wellbeing depends largely upon not being weighed down but instead allowing the spirit to move freely within us. This requires a nourishing diet. Generally, a nourishing diet from an Ayurvedic perspective is considered a “sattvic diet” and includes good quality vegetarian food, including dairy products, whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits and nuts. This sattvic diet helps to increase purity and clarity to the mind.

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Ready-to-use spice mixtures satisfy the six ayurvedic tastes considered essential for balance and good digestion.

Practical Tips For Healthy Digestion
Although simple, these principles if followed routinely, are often enough to help improve your digestion and overall health. Often it’s the simple things that are most effective and oddly enough – most overlooked. That said, let’s quickly take a look at the basics.

  • All food should be freshly prepared, nutritious, and appetizing
  • Food should generally contain all 6 tastes balanced to one’s needs
  • We should leave 4-6 hours between meals with no snacking in between
  • Eat your largest meal during the day when the sun is at its peak
  • Relax and enjoy your meals in a calm soothing environment

 

4. Protect The Brain
The human brain contains about 100 billion cells which continuously require oxygen. Because of this oxygen demand, the brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage; i.e. free radicals. Antioxidants are therefore crucial for longevity and continued effective functioning of the brain.

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5. Enhance The Mind
Shirodhara is undoubtedly one of the most popular Ayurvedic treatments in the west. The word ‘shiro’ means head and ‘dhara’ means steady flow. Therefore, shirodhara involves pouring a steady stream of soothing oil over the forehead and acts as a method of relieving stress to the restless mind.

The Moving Mind
The science of Ayurveda speaks of vata as being the basis of all movement of the body and mind. When vata is in excess [within the mind] it can result in anxiety, nervousness, depression, insomnia and many other forms of difficulty handling stress. With nearly eighty percent of all diseases in the west being attributed to stress, it is no wonder why Shirodhara has been considered one of the most popular Ayurvedic treatments of modern day.

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Creating Stillness
Shirodhara is a classical and a well-established ayurvedic procedure of slowly and steadily streaming medicated oil on the center of the forehead while resting quietly on a comfortable bed. Other liquids like coconut water, buttermilk, milk, etc. are also used depending on the individual need of the patient. Ultimately, this procedure helps to induce a relaxed state of awareness, mental clarity, and even thought to help produce improved “psychoneuroimmunology”; the ability to handle stress.

Stress Free Mind
Supports natural resistance to daily mental stress and fatigue; promotes peace, stability, and calmness under pressure.

Herbs – Enhancing The Mind
Ayurveda talks highly about a special class of herbs called “Medhya” herbs. Ultimately, by providing nourishment to the brain, these herbs are especially useful for the mind and helps to enhance learning while improving both the retention and recall of knowledge.

Intelligence Plus
Promotes natural intelligence; rejuvenates mental processes; supports attention span and concentration; promotes positive emotions and self-confidence.

Mind Plus
Stress and fatigue can diminish mental strength and clarity. Support mental functioning under stress and revitalize the mind with Mind Plus.

Organic Youthful Mind
Supports mental functioning as one ages; removes toxins that impede learning, memory, and recall; promotes the development of consciousness.

Benefits Of Meditation
It seems that research centered around the benefits of meditation have now been rolling in steadily validating the ancient wisdom common to both Ayurveda and Yoga. Ayurveda is an ancient science which literally means ‘the science of life’. A basic fundamental premise to both Ayurveda and Yoga is that – both a sound mind and sound body are integral to one’s overall health and well-being.

Just Some Of The Potential Benefits Of Meditation:
– greater clarity and inner calmness
– increased creativity and happiness
– improved sense of emotional stability
– reduced level of anxiety and depression
– improved brain function and memory
– reduced level of stress
… the list can go on and on …

 

Want More?

Oil Massage
Massage yourself with warm organic sesame oil. Sesame is warming and is generally considered beneficial to every body type for this time of year. Massaging oil on the body is a great way to keep the skin soft, supple and wrinkle free. It is a rejuvenating technique that improves circulation and, when done at night, induces sleep.

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“Give yourself a full-body oil massage on a daily basis. It is nourishing; pacifies the doshas; relieves fatigue; provides stamina, pleasure and perfect sleep; enhances the complexion and the luster of skin; promotes longevity; and nourishes all parts of the body.” – Ancient Wisdom Of Ayurveda

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.


Purifying The Mind With Pratyahara ~ A Yoga & Ayurvedic Approach

The conscious withdrawal of the senses or pratyahara is thought to help purify the mind
Just as a healthy body can resist toxins, a healthy mind can ward off the negative sensory influences around it. In today’s modern times, most people suffer from sensory overload from television, cell phones, radio, computers, newspapers, magazines and books.  Society functions on stimulation through the senses. When we watch violent acts on TV etc. we are absorbing that into our system/mind and each impression has an impact on our mind, positive or negative. If one is easily disturbed by the noises and turmoil in their daily lives, then you may need to practice withdrawing your senses in order to help avoid paying too much attention to these disturbances. Indriya-pratyahara, or control of the senses, is the most important form of pratyahara. 

Strengthening Our Will-Power Through Yoga And Ayurveda ~ Pratyahara! 
It takes a certain amount of will power to follow pratyahara. The term pratyahara is composed of two sanskrit words, prati and ahara. Ahara means "food," or "anything we take into ourselves from the outside". Prati  meaning "against" or "away". Therefore, the meaning of pratyahara is the conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses. Pratyahara is twofold. It involves withdrawal from wrong food, wrong impressions and wrong associations, while simultaneously opening up to right food, right impressions and right associations. "Tapas," sanskrit for "inner fire” is one of the niyamas. This yogic concept refers to austerity, determination, and the willingness to do whatever is necessary to bring us back into balance and health.Therefore,  yoga and meditation ultimately helps us to strengthen the power of will.

Four Types Of Pratyahara:
- Indriya (Senses)
- Prana (Breath)
- Karma (Action)
- Mano (Mind)

In life there are three levels of ahara, or food; nourishment
1.) Food that we eat and that is made up of the five elements necessary to nourish the body.
2.) The impressions on our minds through our five senses.
3.) Our daily associations and the people we meet and hold at the heart and emotional level.

The first step in helping to control the influences of all these impressions is to realize that we have become slaves of it. The simple way to control them is to set aside some time daily apart from all sensory inputs and connect with nature fully. Just as the body benefits by fasting from food, so the mind benefits by fasting from impressions. A “media fast” by abstaining from the digital world is a good practice to cleanse the mind. The practice of pratyahara can be done daily by simply dedicating some time aside to sit and redirect the senses inwardly. Also by doing a few rounds of the bhramari pranayama [bee breathe] it is considered to be very effective in instantly helping to calm the mind. It is one of the best breathing exercises to release the mind of agitation, frustration or anxiety and helps get rid of anger.

How To Practice ~  ***Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath)
A simple-to-do technique for bhramari pranayama can be practiced anywhere at work or at home. The beauty of bhramari pranayama is that it can be an instant option available to help de-stress yourself and bringing your focus inward. Sit upright in a quiet room with eyes closed (can be seated on a chair if needed). Place the index and middle fingers gently over the closed eyes, the ring finger on the outer edge of the nose and the thumbs to press the ear cartilage lightly. Then, take a deep breath in and with an exhale, to gently press the cartilage while making a loud humming sound like a bee. Continue the same pattern for 6-7 times.

Keeping the eyes closed for some time, observe the sensations in the body and the quietness within. The vibrational sound of bhramari's breath buzzing can drown out the endless mental tape loops that can fuel emotional suffering, making it a useful starting point for those whose minds are too "busy" to meditate and withdrawing inward.

*** Bhramari should not be practiced by pregnant or menstruating women. It is also contraindicated for individuals with extremely high blood pressure, epilepsy, chest pain, or an active ear infection.

Pratyahara is related to all the 7 limbs of yoga.
All of the other limbs — from Yamas/Niyamas to samadhi — contain aspects of pratyahara. For example, in asana practice, both the sensory and motor organs are controlled. Pranayama contains an element of pratyahara as we draw our attention inward through the breath. Yama and niyama contain various principles and practices, like non-violence and contentment, which helps us control the senses. In other words, pratyahara provides the foundation for the higher practices of yoga and is the basis for meditation.

Pratyahara and Ayurveda
Pratyahara is the right management of the mind and senses and is essential for all constitutional (Dosha) types. It is the most important factor for mental nutrition.

Vata:
Vata individuals tends to exhibit excessive sensory and mental activity and often needs a consistent practice of pratyahara. Their restlessness commonly distracts the senses, disturbs the motor organs and prana. Pratyahara helps to reverse the adverse tendencies of vata and helps return this energy into a positive force of prana.

Pitta:
Pitta individuals generally have more control of the senses than the others.  Often these individuals are more involved in disciplined like activities in which they stress both the body and the senses. There need for pratyahara is to let the 'Divine Will' work through them while simultaneously relaxing their own personal will.

Kapha:
Kapha individuals more oftenly may experience imbalance where one generally suffers from too little activity, including on the sensory level.  This also implies "Tamasic" characteristics of being lazy, watching television or sitting around the house. They need more mental stimulation and benefit from sensory activity of a higher nature.

Take Home Message: ~ Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way
Where there is a will, there is a way and that way to optimal health is by pratyahara.