A general Vata imbalance is characterized by fear, worry, anxiety, and a lack of self-care. The mind is often consumed with thoughts of the future and worst-case scenarios. “What if…?’ There is a history of overstimulation of the senses and the sensory system tends to get overwhelmed and hypersensitive.
Anxiety is the feeling we experience when the mind is not connected to our present reality. We may fret over past events and wish that we had done things differently. We may lament, regret, and get embarrassed over the past. We feel anxious because we cannot go back and change the event, and we project that same level of embarrassment and shame into future events. We may worry when we imagine what the future holds for us. We consider all possible scenarios and often settle on the worst-case one. We generate fear over this imagined future. The “What if…?” question arises and, if we have no actual worry in the present moment, we imagine,”What if…?”
To gain awareness of this imagination is the first step to reining it in. When you find yourself experiencing worry, fear or anxiety, ask yourself: “is this emotion being generated right now? Is there something in this moment that I attribute to this feeling?” If not, you are living in the past or future. We have no power in the past or future and so we feel anxious when our mind is out of alignment with the body. The body has no choice but to be in the present. The mind gets to wander when we allow it to.
When we are aware of our thoughts and working on “brain training”, we will want to become aware and stop those thoughts that generate fear, worry or anxiety. We will want to stop beating ourselves up about anything that happened in the past. We will want to stop fantasizing about dire events that could occur in our future. We want to be in the present moment.
You can replace those thoughts with anything. For Vata dosha, I recommend that once you observe the unconscious thought, you stop the process. Replace the thought with affirmation, gratitude, present moment awareness or focus on the breath.
With affirmation, you want to switch from a negative thought pattern to a thought pattern you would like to embrace. The key point with affirmation is to choose an affirmation that you believe to be true. If you affirm something that you don’t believe, you will see it as false and mentally reject it. Rather, open the door to improving your relationship with yourself by choosing affirmations that are true for you. “I replace negative thoughts with affirmation. I am capable of feeling happier. I am open to feeling happier. I am willing to feel better about myself.” Instead of saying “I am already happy”, when I do not believe that to be true, I can frame my affirmation in a way that I welcome happiness in. As you gain self-esteem, your affirmations will change to reflect that.
Another option is to focus on gratitude. When the mind is caught in a past/future spiral and we are steeped in worry, fear, and anxiety, we lose sight of what is around us and what is good in our lives. In this instance, we stop that negative pattern and replace our thoughts with gratitude. In this instance; “I replace negative thoughts with gratitude. I am grateful for the opportunity to grow and change. I am grateful for my dog who loves me. I am grateful that I am pain-free right now.” The gratitude may be big or small. This brain training tool is designed to train the brain that when you feel a negative emotion that you have identified as such, you direct the mind to focus on something different. When we focus on gratitude, we will find ourselves letting go of petty fears, and we begin to appreciate and value what we have in the present moment.
READ MORE: Everything You Need To Know About Shirodhara
Present Moment Awareness
We could simply stop the mind’s unconscious play in the past or future by bringing ourselves back to present moment awareness. When doing this, we acknowledge that the thought generating the negative emotion is a memory of a past event or the imagining of a future event but is not occurring in the present moment. We breathe and look around. We experience this moment with our senses. We bring our attention fully to the task at hand and allow the present moment and our actions in this moment to align our body and mind with the now.
Focus on the Breath
Another simple technique is to bring awareness and attention away from the workings of the mind and onto the breath. Allow the thoughts to ride out of the mind, out of the body with the wave of the breath. When you observe negative thoughts rising, simply bring awareness, and attention to the body and breath. Imagine all negative thoughts that are generating fear, worry, and anxiety being breathed out of the body as you breathe in trust, calm, and contentment.[NOTE: If you are experiencing anxiety it is possible you may also benefit from shirodhara therapy and a vata pacifying diet. Check with your practitioner or health care provider to see which Ayurvedic therapies are right for you. Determine your dosha or body type by taking our free quiz.]
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