Ayurvedic Psychology



Ayurvedic Psychology

Because of its holistic approach, Ayurvedic psychology offers the opportunity to understand the nature of the mind in a completely unique way. A Doctor is just as much a psychologist as a physi-cian. They will look at a combination of your genetics, natural tendencies (physical and mental), along with your life experiences and childhood conditioning. Using this information along with finding out your ‘default reactions’ to certain situations, they can start to understand the source of your mental behaviours, and then work efficiently to bring you to a more balanced state.

This combination of nature and nurture determines both your physical, and your psychological con-stitution. (In Ayurveda your constitution is called your dosha). Each dosha has certain characterist-ics, so once you know which category you fall into you can use different techniques based on your individual needs to work through problems and imbalances.

The three doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha) represent the 5 material elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth). Each dosha follows the characteristics of its corresponding elements, and has disease tend-encies to match. You will have a combination of qualities but some will be more dominant, and that is what Ayurveda works with.

Read on to see which characteristics sound most like you.

Vata – Force of Movement

Vata is the combination of ether and air, it is quick, light, and the most difficult dosha to catch or understand (just as the nature of air).
Vata people tend to be talented, compassionate, open minded, positive, trusting, humanitarian and forgiving.
However, it is very difficult for them to maintain balance, as they are strongly affected by their sur-roundings, and the people close to them. When vata gets thrown out of balance we see insecurity, fear, inability to focus, self-destructive behaviour, self criticism, confusion and excessive guilt.
A typical vata person is likely to work in communicative or creative jobs from artists, and musi-cians, to inventors and designers. When they are in their best moods creativity pours out of their soul.

Answer these questions and see if your mind is vata;

  1. Are you confused about decisions in your love/professional life?
  2. Are you compassionate?
  3. Does your mind constantly think or analyse situations, environment and people?
  4. Do you feel unhappy without reason?
  5. Are you creative?
  6. Do you find it difficult to concentrate?
  7. Do you dwell on the past so much, that it affects the present?
  8. Do you fall erratically in love or into impossible situations?
  9. Are you forgetful/do you often loose things?
  10. Is it hard for you to believe that you are lovable /good enough?

If you answered yes to more than 5 points, then you have got a vata mind.

Try our tips for balancing vata in your mind;

  • Eat warm easily absorbable food in small portions
  • Follow a daily routine
  • Set small targets, so that you can complete anything that you start Make plans (completed plans help you feel more secure and confident) Prioritise your health and nutrition as well as your mental wellbeing Avoid starting too many things at once.
  • Spend time understanding and expressing your emotional needs. Try to be in loving and supportive environments.
  • When you feel very emotional try using the stabilising mantra “this too shall pass” either when you are very high or very low.
  • Pursue what you love; job, person, place to be etc.
  • Chose mood stabilising colours; orange, yellow, pink. (Avoid grey and black) Use incenses of patchouli, frankincense, sandalwood and cedar.

Pitta – Dynamic Force

Represented by the fire element pitta tends to be hot, or sharp both in body and personality. They are notoriously difficult to argue with, as they always criticise and blame others and will take a long time (if ever) to realise their own mistakes.
They tend to be logical, competitive, good leaders, intelligent, persistent, goal oriented, and make rational rather than emotional decisions.
They are good at taking control and helping to motivate people around them, although they may not be particularly sensitive to other people’s opinions, and usually lack compassion.
When they get out of balance, they tend to overwork, forgetting to relax. They develop ego becom-ing more opinionated and seeing only their way of doing things. It is common for them to be irrit-able and angry for no reason, which then leads to manipulative behaviour.
Pitta people are usually working in positions of power or extreme competition. Sitting in the par-liaments and courts, sports stars, CEO’s, or even mafia leaders.

    Answer these questions and see if your mind is vata;

    1. Are you easily irritated by your surroundings?
    2. Do you speak without thinking when provoked?
    3. Do you feel the urge to destroy and break things when you are frustrated?
    4. Do you like to be in control of people or situations?
    5. Do you hate surprises?
    6. Is it hard for you to relax in your free time?
    7. Do you get bored in quiet places?
    8. Do you answer questions with another question?
    9. Is it hard for you to multitask?
    10. Are you impatient?

    If you answered yes to more than 5 points, then pitta is dominant in your mind.

    Try our tips to help balance the pitta in the mind;

    • Reduce spicy oily food, coffee and alcohol
    • Appreciate and accept what you have got at this moment
    • Be in the nature, calm and relaxing environments
    • Buy yourself flowers, or better yet, grow your own
    • Expose yourself to the full moon light
    • Make sure you have a little time for reflection and relaxation every day
    • Listen to calming or devotional music
    • Go swimming
    • Choose pitta pacifying colours: blue and green
    • Use incenses of rose, jasmine, lily, lotus and sandalwood

    Kapha- Force of Harmony

    The third dosha Kapha is made up of the earth and water elements. It is the force that creates bal-ance and harmony in the body and mind. This solidness provides kapha individuals with best health and endurance of any dosha. Their Immune systems are strong and they generally live the longest. Psychologically kapha is slow and methodical; they love routine, and familiarity. They are usually very devoted and loyal in their religion, relationships and work. They always try to avoid conflict or change, so that they can maintain a stable and quiet environment around them.
    With more and more people living in stressful and competitive, city environments, even the calmest kapha type can find their mental constitution shifting to try to keep up with the fast paced way of life.
    If a kapha person cannot remain centred they tend to become lethargic or de-motivated, they isolate themselves and turn to food and sleep for emotional comfort. The imbalance can also make them greedy, and due to their naturally lower metabolism, they become obese which exacerbates all of their other problems.
    Kapha works well in repetitive jobs, and is much better at finishing tasks than starting them. Once motivated they can be consistent and hard workers in most fields. We tend not to value their steady characteristics, but if they are allowed to be themselves, everyone around them will start to feel peaceful and loved.

    See if your mind is Kapha;

    1. Do you avoid moving or travelling to new places?
    2. Do you enjoy being at home, either cooking or resting in your back yard?
    3. Are you are hesitant about meeting new people?
    4. Does it take you a long time to learn new things?
    5. Do you seek happiness in food?
    6. Is your normal speaking voice quiet and slow?
    7. Do you love being in water?
    8. Do you dislike very noisy places?
    9. Are you usually the best listener among your family and friends?
    10. Are you always happy and content regardless of the circumstances?

    If you answered yes to more than 5 points, then you have a kapha mind.

    Try our tips to help balance the kapha in your mind

    • Seek stimulating activities, and new experiences regular exercise.
    • Set a sleep routine where you wake-up before sunrise and avoid naps make sure you stay warm.
    • Reduce clutter and get rid of any things you are hoarding.
    • Choose colours that are warm and bright, yellow, orange, and red.
    • Use warming aromas like cloves, camphor, cinnamon, eucalyptus, juniper.

    In order to achieve mental stability everyone needs elements of kapha, which help to ground you and bring you to a peaceful contented state.
    Even if you are not born with this innate ability, you can follow certain practises to develop the kapha qualities and calm down.

Mixed Dosha Constitution

Most people won’t fall perfectly into one of these categories, and have a combination of two or even all three dosha traits. This can be made more confusing, as sometimes people suppress some of their tendencies or reject some aspects of their personality altogether.

For this reason it is always preferable to get an expert diagnosis to find out your exact mental type. Once you know what you have to work with, it will be much easier to accept who you are, and you know how to move forward and progress.

Healing the Mind through the Body

Often the Ayurvedic approach to healing mental problems does not start with the mind, (you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it) but instead uses the connection between the mind and body, to heal mental disturbances physically. These techniques along with simple modi-fications in your day to day life can completely change your outlook and how you interact in the world around you, and more importantly lead you to a place of self acceptance and understanding.

Simply acknowledging and becoming aware of mental imbalances is a huge step towards healing them. It may be a long journey, and certainly requires patience and persistence. Whatever you are working with, try not to put yourself under pressure, as this stress can lead to deeper more dam-aging thoughts and even counteract the healing you are working towards.

Example of the Ayurvedic approach

Maya’s mother is very unhappy, she complains all the time, and is very fearful, but doesn't want to change anything in her life. Maya tries to make her happy but she cannot help. She tries to take her out but nothing seems improve her mother’s mood. As a result Maya is now not talking to her mother, and tries healing herself instead. She is trying to change for everyone else but not for herself. She does not know why she still feels so frustrated and unhappy.

What is happening here?

Maya is trying desperately to please her mother who is refusing to be happy, which causes Maya to feel guilty for being happy herself. Within her family none of the women seem to be content and this is pulling Maya’s spirit down. She is unable to detach herself from her mother’s behaviour and is deeply influenced by her emotions.
In Ayurvedic psychology we look into the family dynamics, so we can give patients like Maya the tools to feel love and compassion for those who are suffering, and allow them-selves to heal without guilt. Once we have understood the psychological state we can more effectively see how it is impacting the body and why some of the physical diseases are manifesting.

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