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Natural Awakenings of Greater Ann Arbor & Detroit / Wayne County Michigan

Releasing Fear with Ayurveda

by Kapila Castoldi

In these times of uncertainty, fear has surfaced as our greatest enemy. Even isolated in our homes, we are affected by the emotional state of the people around us, those we casually interact with at the grocery store, our friends and neighbors or the population the entire country. When such a great sense of fear pervades the atmosphere, we are bound to unconsciously align with it. The only way out of this emotional contagion is to go within. We need to cultivate the awareness that nothing is permanent in this world. Just like it came, the coronavirus will eventually go away. But while this powerful wave is flowing around us, we need to stand tall, maintaining our poise, harmony and sense of well-being.

         This is where the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda can help. Fear, worries and anxieties are emotional states associated to an unbalanced vata dosha. To restore this balance, we need to focus on a vata pacifying diet, favoring warm, moist foods like hot soups and stews. As we move toward the fall season, when cold and damp weather prevails and vata tends to increase in our system, this diet will be of great help.

         Staying away from cold foods and drinks will also help to maintain a strong agni (digestive fire) connected to the pitta dosha. A balanced pitta will keep us strong. A strong agni will destroy toxins and keep illness away.

         Like influenza, the COVID-19 affects the lungs, an organ connected to the kapha dosha. Mucus is the result of kapha unbalance. Staying away from dairy products and drinking hot ginger tea or indulging in a mildly spiced chai tea will help balance kapha and keep our respiratory system clean of mucus.

         To free ourselves from the deep sense of fear in and around us, we can also engage in pranayama (breath control) or other types of breathing techniques. Here is a breathing technique from the spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy.

         When breathing, try to breathe in as slowly and quietly as possible, so that if somebody placed a tiny thread in front of our nose it would not move at all. When we exhale, try to breathe out even more slowly than when we breathed in. If possible, leave a short pause between the end of the first exhalation and the beginning of the second.

         Each time we breathe in, try to feel that we are bringing into the body infinite peace. The opposite of peace is restlessness. When we breathe out, try to feel that we are expelling the restlessness within us and also the restlessness that we see all around us. When we breathe this way, you will find restlessness leaving.

         After practicing this for a few times, please try to feel that we are breathing in power from the universe. When you exhale, feel that all the fear is coming out of the body. After doing this a few times, try to feel that what we are breathing in is infinite joy, and what we are breathing out is sorrow, suffering and melancholy.


Kapila Clara Castoldi is an adjunct associate professor in the physics department at Oakland University.