Believe it or not, it’s time to get ready for Ayurveda’s Kapha Season.
It’s already the middle of November. You may be just feeling like you’re getting into the swing of fall and many of you may be dreading the upcoming winter season. Christmas season has barely begun and Americans have yet to even celebrate Thanksgiving, so why you might ask, am I starting to talk about Winter already!?
In the tradition of Ayurveda, as many of you may know, there are 3 seasons; Vata, Kapha and Pitta. The Vata season is represented by the Wind and is the season of Autumn. During the Vata season (since around August) our senses are especially heightened towards feelings of being ungrounded, and perhaps even feeling more anxious than usual. No doubt we have all felt a heightened sense of stress and anxiety in the recent weeks, and you may think it’s just because of what’s been happening around you, perhaps because of the news and what’s been happening in the world. But there is also a more SUBTLE cause for how you may have been feeling lately especially if you have experienced anxiety, trouble sleeping, restlessness, difficulty concentrating or completing a task. This is caused by excess wind element and can be exaggerated by your daily routine including foods you eat, the type of exercise you are doing (or not doing), and your sleep patterns.
Now as of the middle of November, we are entering into a transition period that starts to take us from the Vata season into the Kapha season, the season of Winter. There are two levels of expression that can come out during the Kapha season; the higher form of expression is that we feel a heightened sense of generosity and community, peace and love. The elements of Kapha are Water and Earth, and that can make us more open to our emotional connections to each other, and also to feel surrounded by the abundance the earth gives us; a roof over our heads, food to eat, clothes to protect us. These are also the higher forms of expression associated with the holiday season.
The lower form of expression, which we must be aware of and notice if we are unconsciously taking on, is to feel sluggish, depressed, lonely and to have a tendency to overly consume. It is no coincidence that both the higher and lower forms of expression are so classically characterized with the holiday season. And you may very well come to feel this way because of what’s happening around you, your circumatances and relationships. BUT, it really helps to know that part of what is causing you to feel this way is the SUBTLE forces in the universe that are at play during this time of year. And as with all seasons, these feelings will likely pass or subside as we move through the winter months.
The key here to note is that the transition to the Kapha season is starting NOW. Most people mark the beginning of winter by the solstice on December 21st, but it ACTUALLY begins WAY earlier than that time. As we move into the transition period, what you do NOW leads to how you will feel a month from now when the winter season gets more fully underway. If you wait until December to consciously acknowledge and respond to Kapha’s influences, you may already be influenced by the lower expressions of the season, namely feeling sluggish, emotionally sensitive or even depressed, lonely or angry without being able to understand what is driving these emotional states.
What should you do to consciously respond as we move into the Kapha season?
1. Get Active! Now more than ever it is important to find time for physical activity and exercise. Counteract the forces that are going to make you feel lethargic and cause you to become physically, and emotionally depressed.
2. Adapt your diet to the season to incorporate more dry, spicy and bitter foods. Foods like cinnamon, ginger, chilli flakes, basil and lemon are all favourable during this time of year as well as Asian-inspired cuisine and soups like miso. Eat a lot of leafy vegetables as well as broccoli, asparagus and greeen peas. Avoid canned vegetables and foods with a lot of water such as tomatoes, corn. Avoid heavy fruits such as banana and avocado. Wherever you can, avoid heavy oils, sweets, sour and salty foods as these will make you feel heavy and more susceptible to depressed emotional states. Use honey as a substitute for sugar.
3. Be Mindful. Take 10-15 minutes everyday to check in with yourself and notice how you are feeling. Be honest, and don’t worry about trying to change how you feel, just notice what emotions arise. Do this when you are on your own. Taking this time every day to check in and be mindful of your own emotional and mental state helps you to have more present moment awareness, and to respond more consciously and compassionately to the situations in your life.
4. Find a way to be generous and take joy in the spirit of the holidays, and it’s not too early to start right now. Use the holiday season as an opportunity to help pull yourself into a higher expression of how the universal elements will be affecting your mood and your frame of mind. Watch how small acts of kindness in your day-to-day experience, lift you up and shift your perspective.
5. Have compassion for others. Just as these forces may be influencing you (and you have the benefit now of being more conscious of these forces), so too are they influencing others. When people in your family, workplace or social circle are grumpy or depressed, do not choose to feed into this energy. Instead, consciously show patience, compassion and understanding for your colleagues without losing yourself in lower vibrations. By showing patience and compassion you are doing what you can to bring forward the higher vibrations of Kapha energy.
6. Watch out for excessive consumption. This can be in the form of eating (yes that extra helping of delicious turkey dinner or those tempting holiday cookies that your coworker brought into the office). It can also be excessive spending.