"No mud, no lotus."- Thich Nhat Hanh
This is the quote that came to mind as I was walking at North Branch Nature Center Tuesday morning, and literally fell right into a mud puddle. Welcome Spring! Yes, it's the season of mud and earth, puddles and ponds singing forth with their oozy messiness and bringing new life! Truly we are on the cusp of warmer days and the earth greening once again. But, in the meantime, it's fickle April, a month where you only have to blink and the weather changes from 65 and sunny to snowflakes falling.
In Ayurveda, it's the season of the Dosha (humor) called Kapha. Some of the qualities of Kapha Dosha are cool, wet, moist, heavy, slow, dense, soft & oily and the elements connected to Kapha are Earth and Water. What happens when earth and water mix? You get MUD! During the months of March, April & May, the energy of Kapha is at it's zenith and since it's mid-April, we are thick in the middle of the mud.
When we literally feel like we are moving at the pace of (or slogging through) thick mud, there is a good chance that Kapha Dosha is a little out of balance. Here are some other signs of Kapha in excess: Mucus in the lungs or a late season respiratory infection or cold, lethargy, unexpected weight gain, sluggish digestion, and low energy (you keep hitting the snooze button). When Kapha is out of balance, we have the feeling we could stay under the covers and sleep all day long. But there is a solution!
Opposites create balance and because it is the most Kapha time of year, it's good to create routines that balance this Dosha. Anything that is opposite of the attributes I mentioned above will bring greater harmony to our system: Staying active (even if you feel like you are kind of forcing yourself to move), eating light, nourishing foods that are not heavy, oily, or laden with too much fat, staying warm when it's damp and raw outside, trying a more vigorous or up-tempo yoga class, and 'keeping it light' in general. It's a great time to reduce inflammation in the body by doing a simple spring cleanse and taking some deep breaths nourishes our lungs this time of year. The best tastes to balance Kapha are bitter, pungent & astringent so enjoy those first spring bitter greens (like Dandelion or Nettle), green tea or even some bitter dark chocolate. This will aid and digestion and help cleanse the liver and gallbladder.
Read more about Kapha Dosha HERE.
If you are a coffee drinker fear not, here is a wonderful article about coffee and your Dosha.
On a more emotional/ spiritual level, can we allow ourselves to be with the 'mud of the moment'? Although we might want May to come quick, and that full blooming of spring to arrive, it's just not time quite yet. It's not always easy to accept or acknowledge what is most alive in us in any given moment. It takes courage to embrace 'what is' with compassion and acceptance and to allow ourselves to truly feel our own deepest feelings, emotions, joys, longings and even (yes) pain or suffering. Often behind the surface emotions or defenses live our deepest vulnerabilities, which like the mud, we may turn up our noses to. Yet, as Thich Nhat Hanh so eloquently expresses above, there is so much life force energy waiting in that mud. In the ooze, muck and mire, there is new life waiting to grow and in the deep willingness to feel, we free up vital life force energy that can blossom into something beautiful. We can actually move from feeling stuck and stagnant to open and unburdened. So when you notice the muddy ponds or churned up rivers of April rolling by, know that we are not separate from the Earth, we are interconnected, and that for sure, the spring will blossom into fullness soon enough.
To Enhance Your Yoga Teaching or Practice:
Spring is a great time of year for cleansing twists, and poses to uplift and invigorate the spirit. Try a series of challenging standing poses or inversions to turn your world upside down for new perspective on life. The liver and gallbladder meridians connect to the inner and outer legs so poses like wide-legged forward fold or eagle pose are wonderful for spring toning. Any poses or breaths to nourish the lungs and open the heart are extremely beneficial as well.
Contemplations to Go Deeper:
* How are you feeling right now in your own body, mind and spirit? Do you notice the shifting seasons inside of your own being? How does this manifest in your specifically?
* If you feel sluggish or 'stuck in the mud' are there practices or activities that would uplift your soul and get you moving without having to force yourself?
* What changes or desires to you feel bubbling up in the mixed-up mud of your soul? When you slide underneath the surface layers, what new ideas, intentions or innovations are waiting to be born?
* Practice being compassionate with yourself and authentic in your interactions with others. When you share yourself truly (yes even the muddy parts of you), you give others permission to do the same.
* Take time today to do one thing to nourish your being: Take a walk, cook up some bitter greens, or do a 5 min. meditation. Create the conditions for the lotus to arise from the mud.
Mud of the Moment by Danna Faulds:
Truth lives in the mud
of this moment. It exists
in the messy interplay of
emotions and relationship,
in the personality traits
I'd rather leave behind.
To experience truth
doesn't take sainthood,
or dissolving my desires.
It requires diving into
the muck and mire of
what's here, feeling
the anxiety or fear,
knowing the entirety
of me without hiding
from the shadows or
Choosing to be whole,
awareness makes the
leap to see that I am
truth - always was,
and always will be -
the radiant singularity,
the infinite in human
form. The lotus never
sinking roots in mud.