The way we digest food is the same way we digest emotions and experiences. According to Ayurveda, the mind exists for experience and liberation of the soul. As we go through life, the experiences we have not digested properly become toxins (Ama), that cause illness and mental disorder. Well digested experiences bring mental happiness and stability.
The mental digestion process happens in dreams and sleep, but begins with the real life experience. Here are the three steps of mental digestion, with some introspective questions to ask yourself that will lead to a happier digested life:
1. Gathering of Impressions
This is when the senses are gathered and organized, but not digested. This is where it is important to gather the proper impressions, which is what kinds of TV, music, food, conversations etc. you engage in. Habits such as constantly consuming the news, not going out in nature or eating highly processed foods bring tamasic (inertia, dullness, darkness) energy, and influence our mental fabric in negative ways.
Our intelligence (Buddhi) works to digest the experience transmitted by our senses through our mental agni (digestive fire). It is the flame of truth that illuminates our lives, and acts as the small intestine of our mind. It allows us to take in the good (Sattva) and release the bad (Rajas and Tamas). The energies of Rajas (energizing) and Tamas (inertia) are not inherently bad, but in the context of mental digestion they slow us down. Incorrect mental digestion occurs when we can’t break down experience into truth energies. Undigested experiences accumulate and block our perception, which makes it more challenging for us to lead a happy and authentic life.
Some questions to ask yourself when examining your intelligence:
- Where does my intelligence possess the greatest depth, refinement and clarity?
- How have I developed discrimination about people and situations?
- Where do I exercise my sense of choice, value and judgement?
The experience is absorbed and becomes a deeper part of our mental fabric, just like tissues in our body being created from food we have digested. Undigested experiences arise from our subconscious, and influence our current state of mind until we understand and resolve them.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when examining your consciousness:
- What is the quality of my food, impressions (media, relationships, art) and associations?
- Which emotions do I experience frequently? Is there balance in my emotions?
- What are my frequent, spontaneous and automatic reactions?
- What is my consciousness like when I am not engaged in mental activity? (sleeping, watching, eating)
Take inventory of how you run your life. This requires taking some intentional time for yourself to reflect as an act of self love and commitment to a more sustainable lifestyle. It helps to sort in these categories:
- Physical – diet, herbs, exercise
- Psychological – impressions, emotions, thought
- Social – work, recreation, relationships
- Spiritual – yoga and meditation
Ayurveda is a holistic lifestyle, meaning it encompasses all aspects of life. Everything affects the mind. Uncomfortable things we try to brush off and forget come back in our subconscious, and have the ability to cause chaos in our minds and lives. We want to cease being the victims of our own mind’s indigestion by creating better mental digestion processes through Ayurveda. We hope these steps, tips and introspective questions help you digest life more happily!
- Ayurveda and the Mind: the Healing of Consciousness by Dr. David Frawley