Have You Noticed?
I know for me, I have observed in the last few weeks that I have not been as hungry as I usually am at mealtimes and my food is taking longer to digest than usual as well. These are signs that the environment is affecting my interior. This is due to the process of samanya – sameness begetting sameness – ie. like increases like.
If you are noticing this too, it is a good idea to adjust your behavior. Whereas for breakfast through the winter, I had been ravenous for and satisfied (triptiḥ) by my toast and butter, recently, I have become aware that though it still tastes good of course, I was no longer digesting it by 9am like I used to do.
Instead of forging ahead or stopping eating altogether, I have adjusted the guṇas of my meals to help me reduce this increase of Kapha.
Guṇas are the Keys to the Doṣa
There is no official foods of any season. There are no foods or beverages that are good or bad. We are all built differently and struggle with different things. To find balance internally, we first have to be able to acknowledge when things are not working.
According to Āyurveda, any amount of digestive malaise or suffering means something is not working.
From here we observe which guṇas (qualities) are causing us to feel afflicted, which make this experience worse, and which guṇas make this experience better.
For me for example, I am most aggravated by the drava (liquid) and snigdha (oily) guṇas. Mostly, this has to do with Pitta doṣa, but because both of these guṇas are present in Kapha as well, I become aggravated by these guṇas in Kapha season.
Notice the trap in thinking you are only a doṣa?
How to Adjust
So, let’s observe the guṇas in toast and butter. The toast aspect is OK as it is dry (rukṣa), which is opposite to drava (liquid), but the salted butter I was using is both drava, snidgha (oily) and because of the salt, hot. The toast, because it is a grain, is relatively heavy. Because the guṇas of the Spring (Vasanta Ṛtu) are very similar to salted butter (heavy, liquid, slimy, hot), my digestive system could no longer support it.
So, temporarily I have switched my breakfast to a grapefruit, which is sour – so it supports digestive fire. It is also light, which contrasts the heaviness of the season and of my current state of digestion. I put honey on top of it, which is hot and scrapes stuck material. This aids digestion and warms up the coldness of the fruit. Honey is magical. It will combat all the guṇas of Kapha while supporting the aggravated guṇas of Pitta in me. Honey is also a yogavāhi, which means it intensifies the qualities of that with which it is paired. I added black raisins, which decrease Pitta’s guṇas and support the movement of bodily wastes. This assists the honey as digestion becomes sluggish at this time due to the stickiness and heaviness present in the season. I topped the whole thing with ginger powder, cinnamon powder, cardamom powder, clove powder, and a little black pepper. This morning I got frisky and also added sunflower seeds. All of these serve to support digestion, calm Kapha’s guṇas while combatting the guṇas of Pitta and excess liquid qualities in general.
It’s about Dancing with the Doṣa, not Conquering Them
The way to change is through the details, the parts of a substance. There are myriad of guṇas in each season, in each doṣa, and in You. Though we will all be affected by the seasons, the ways in which we are affected will be personal and unique. You have the capacity to discover this if you start to pay attention not to the nutrition labels, but to the experiences you are having when you engage with different things. Things includes foods, drinks, and activities.
Explore Your Meals!
To think like the Ṛṣis of Āyurveda, we have to go beyond the doṣa. Examine yourself and your meals. Consider :
- What guṇas are predominant?
- What do you feel like before you eat? (In guṇas)
- What do you feel like after you eat? (In guṇas)
- Have your meals changed since the winter or preceding season?
- Has your hunger changed since the preceding season?
In the winter our digestion is stronger because our bodies are denser and so the digestive fire is firmly situated in our Grahaṇī (stomach area). When the warm of Spring comes, it starts to melt all that was solid. This covers the digestive fire with liquid, oily, heaviness and so we often feel more swollen, less strong, more heavy etc. This is normal! But to combat it, it must come through behavior, relative to the guṇas, not the doṣa.