For any operating system, regular maintenance is key to optimal performance and longevity. The same is true for our physical bodies as well as our emotional operating systems. A healthy state of mind requires self-care.
How do we monitor, maintain and prevent issues in our emotional mainframe? The Ayurvedic concept of dinacharya refers to the daily rhythms of self-care. One whole day could be spent in self-care, but that doesn’t work for most modern urban lives. Instead, I recommend having a morning ritual that attends to your body and your mind/emotions, and feeds your soul. There are ample recommendations for traditional Ayurvedic morning practices; however, not everyone feels nurtured using a neti pot nor is everyone comfortable with meditation.
In fact, these practices can often be geared to the physical body, like dry brushing your skin or tongue scraping. You have to find practices that make you feel like you are taking care of your body. What a morning ritual looks like can be as varied and individual as we are. Mine, for example, includes a hot cup of chai, watching the sunrise, herbs, intention-setting at the altar, chanting, meditation and sometimes a morning stretch. That’s a lot for some, but as long as your self-care ritual cultivates pleasant feelings and includes an opportunity to examine your thoughts, decisions and feelings, you’re golden.
I’d recommend setting aside 30 minutes at minimum to not feel rushed. In addition to solidifying a circadian rhythm and benefitting the physical body, daily self-care has deeper benefits for your emotional and subtle bodies, otherwise understood as your energy fields. Here are the four major benefits of incorporating dinacharya into your day.
Regular time and space with yourself
Many times clients ask me if working out at the gym or attending a yoga class can “count” as their self-care time. While the answer is different for all of us, a silent run in nature or a deep restorative class could be opportunities for a good emotional check-in. A weight-training circuit, workout with a friend, or fast-paced Vinyasa flow probably do not allow you to be really present with yourself. Being present with yourself lets you explore what you are feeling and why. This is the time when you can consider how you want to approach things and how congruent you are with your decisions.
Energy to nurture your best self
You have to nurture yourself to be able to be the person you want to be. In Ayurveda, we honor that we are dynamic, changing beings. For example, I understand that I am more likely to be reactive, short-tempered or closed-minded when I’m short on sleep, not feeling well and/or starving. When I feel well taken care of and well supported, I’m able to receive and respond to life in a way that is more aligned with my ideal version of me.
I can aspire to be calm, empathetic, helpful, nurturing, flowing and growing when I am in a state of wellness, so it doesn’t make sense to expect that I can be any of those qualities from a place of deep depletion. If I force myself to, then I’m either getting further depleted and losing sustainability, or I’m building resentment and bitterness towards the things that take my energy, time and resources away from healing myself.
Greater sense of integrity
An important facet of health from an Ayurvedic perspective is having clarity and flow in all of the physical and subtle bodies, or energy fields. When channels are obstructed, accumulation, decay and loss of functionality follow. Our sense of integrity could be viewed as a clear channel of flow from intention to words to actions to manifestation. When our words and actions do not echo the sentiment of our intentions, we block our ability to manifest our desired experience of life.
This comes up often in the topic of self-care. Many of us have the intention to feel well and be healthy, but don’t match our words and actions with that intention. Instead, we feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the intention and choose easier old patterns but then judge ourselves for that. When I put off my dental cleanings, skip the gym, binge on chocolate and keep forgetting to make that eye doctor appointment, my actions are all saying my health is not important to me, though I may speak otherwise. My integrity is obstructed, and I will have trouble manifesting and sustaining my desired level of health.
When I have a daily time to attend to myself, I know that I’m showing up for my intention in a regular way, and this allows me to respect myself more and cultivate a greater sense of integrity and trust in myself: I show up. Of course, this also leads to reduction in internal conflict, removing the obstruction from your flow.
Attracting what you are embodying
During my morning ritual, I’m feeling cared for, even if it’s by me. I’m feeling more nurtured. I’m feeling more heard. It doesn’t matter that I’m nurturing and hearing myself because I still am embodying those states more with my daily ritual. Through self-care, we attract more experiences, situations and people that allow us to feel well cared for, valued and supported. I’m able to allow my feelings to guide me in decisions, and I’m making more decisions that are in alignment. This means I’m embodying and attracting the state of being guided, clear, decisive, and having my feelings attended to.
When you’ve attended to your feelings, shown up with your best self more regularly, prioritized your mind-body practices, and embodied being well, you will love yourself and your life experience more. It’s just that simple.