Our very first HEALING ARTS program is our FEMALE ARTISANS group ~ in Vrindavan, India
This caring project is to assist ‘low to no income’ and/or unprotected ladies so they become more able to take care of themselves, family and their children.
This program was started, and is being run by, Subhadradryia personally. She is a qualified Palliative Doctor and the widowed mother of a lovely girl.
These Artisans to be ladies are mostly married women who come from a poor financial background. Most of them work as farm labours – they help with work on other people’s agricultural land, earning about USD 2 per day.
Education: 90% of these ladies have not studied beyond grade 4 in school. 5 % have studied up to grade 8.4 % ladies have studied up to grade 5.
Less than 1 % have completed high school.
The main needs of these ladies: * Financial stability and improvement in their living standards. * Medical services ( as there is no hospital in their vicinity – the nearest being 20 kms away) * A School in their village. * Better Employment opportunities for women.
These are women staying in villages which are about 5-7 kms away from the beautiful and deeply spiritual Vrindavan town.
All products manufactured by our artisan ladies will be sold in Vrindavan and on our online shop (coming soon). The profits are directly and solely used for their proper housing and livelihood.
We’re at this time specifically fundraising to buy a sewing machine for this ‘Ladies Artisans’ group. The price for one machine is of approximately US$170. Please give generously. Thank you.
Or if you’re inclined to donate any materials please contact us!
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Ethical behaviour is essential for developing harmony within oneself and with others, and yoga offers a systematic ethical and spiritual path of consciousness transformation.
Patanjali described yoga into eight interconnected limbs that led progressively to higher stages of health and awareness.
~ Ethical restrain, not harming, truthfulness, not stealing, Self restrain, cleanliness of mind and body, contentment. ~ Posture: cultivation of profound physical steadiness ~ Breath control: to control and channel life force (Prana) in the breath. ~ Sensory inhibition: Withdrawal of the senses from the external world into the interior self. ~ Concentration: locking attention on a single object. ~ Meditation: Profound state of quite and relaxation ~ Ecstasy: Transcending state of integration with the infinite.(Cameron, 2004)
Chanting Yoga and its relationship with therapies
Yogic approaches emphasize somato-psychic functioning of a person in the present moment and are not concerned with past psychological history, and thus are quite different than many of the present-day psychotherapeutic techniques where past psychological history dictates the significant direction of the therapy.
Yogic therapies are based on self-regulation and self-regulation of the patient, whereas pharmacotherapy or most of the psychotherapies foster dependence either on a physician or on a drug. Besides, yoga therapies remain an essential part of the multidimensional model of natural and spiritual healing.
Tranquilizers or antidepressants reduce the sensory stimulation feedback, thereby decreasing somatic and psychic awareness. Besides, pharmacotherapy not only disturbs homeostatic rebalancing, but also decreases motivation and self-insight.
Both psychoanalysis and meditation are based on the idea of increasing the area of consciousness creating more control of the “Self”. They both trace the cause of human suffering in the past and belief that unless the past is unearthed and brought to the consciousness one cannot get rid of suffering. Though the approach is different, psychoanalysis and meditation both help in visualization and relieving but meditation leads to transcendence. Meditation has several advantages over psycho-analysis.
Psycho-analysis may help in exposing 10-20 % of the past before the patient’s consciousness, meditation however if done regularly, will expose 100% before him, thus this is the only technique that promises the full liberation from bondages of ego or antahkarna.
Psycho-analysis primarily focuses on the search for the final goal, in doing so, it blocks freedom and happiness, as in obsessions. Meditation on the other hand removes all obsessions, hence brings freedom and happiness.
In Psycho-analysis, there is a significant role of transference and counter- transference, where as in meditation, there is no role of the same.
Psycho-analysis is time consuming and expensive to undertake, where as meditation does not involve any expenditure, as one has not to purchase time from the analyst and can practice mediation in their own surrounding and time, after having mastered the art (Goel, 1993).
Matthew was born in Mississippi and raised in England. He spent many years living and traveling in Europe, soaking up the culture, playing music and writing poetry. Then, with the gravitational pull of a black hole, cinema devoured him.
His podcast is a vehicle for sharing his process and realizations about cinema, the filmmaker and the audience; and their effect on each other.
‘Cinema and the Psyche’ is a podcast for exploring the nature of the cinematic art form, the artist and audience, and the way they all interrelate. The focus will be on cinema as it appears in our multiplexes and independent cinemas.
I value the individual and the authentic artistic process as the
means for achieving true cinema. Therefore, I’m less concerned with
established ideas, academic outlooks and the views of current
We’ll be concerned with those great filmmakers throughout history who defined the medium, but most of all, with my own understandings and realizations; ever searching for what mainstream cinema can be.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey into the depths of cinema. I
won’t always have the ‘right’ opinion or view, but it will be a genuine,
individualist approach to discovering the depth of cinema, the psyche
and their interrelation.
I expect to be posting at least one 20-30 minute episode each week. But, let’s see, as it is with all intuitional based works, anything can happen!
Lastly, the folks over at Patreon.com
have created something wonderful. In their own words: “Patreon’s
mission? Oh, nothing short of helping every creator in the world achieve
sustainable income. We’re making this happen by building the best
platform for creators to make money, run their creative businesses, and
connect with the fans who matter most.”
High-resolution EEG investigation of meditation According to recent investigations, theta and alpha oscillations are defined as narrow frequency bands reflecting the activity of multifunctional neuronal networks.These are deferentially associated with orientation, attention, memory, effective, and cognitive processing. 128-channel ESI System (ESI-128, NeuroScan Labs.) and 64-channel QuikCap with imbedded Ag/AgCl electrodes (NeuroSoft, Inc.) were used inorder to record these EEG from 62 active scalp sites referenced to the tip of the nose along with both vertical and horizontal electrooculograms (EOGs). EEG spectral power and coherence was estimated in the individually defined delta, theta, alpha-1, alpha-2, and alpha-3 bands and were used to identify and characterize brain regions involved in the meditative states, in which focused internalized attention gave rise to emotionally positive ‘blissful’ experience.
Blissful state was accompanied by an increase in anterior frontal and midline theta synchronization as well as an enhanced theta long-distant connectivity between prefrontal and posterior cortex with distinct ‘center of gravity’ in the left prefrontal region (AF3 site). Therefore, subjective scores of emotional experience significantly correlated with theta waveforms whereas scores of internalized attention were correlated with both theta and alpha lower synchronization.
Conclusion These results suggest selective associations of theta and alpha oscillating networks activity with states of internalized attention and positive emotional experience.
Spectral power changes between eyes closed and meditation conditions in the short-term (STM) and long-term (LTM) meditators in the theta, alpha-1, and alpha-2
Coherence changes between eyes closed and meditation conditions in the STM and LTM in the theta band. Solid lines indicate coherence increase whereas dashed lines point to coherence decrease (the thicker lines relate to error probability of P < 0.001, the thinner lines relate to P < 0.01
Traditional time domain EEG spectra are separated into fundamental bands qualitatively based on shape and range of frequency for clinical and research applications. These generally occur within the limits of 0.1 to 35 Hz for clinical and include alpha, beta, delta, and theta waves. When many of the individual bands occur repeatedly in a specific area of the brain, they produce a complex EEG waveform observed in traditional EEG recording methods.
Normal alpha rhythms are characterized by sinusoidal waveforms occurring between 8 to 13 Hz. Although the specific amplitude varies from one individual to another, it typically ranges from 20 to 60 mV and rarely exceeds 100 mV. They are believed to originate in the posterior region of the brain and are generally observed in the parietal, occipital, and posterior temporal areas. Alpha rhythms are best detected when an individual is mentally inactive, and they are often seen when the subject is awake, relaxed, and in an environment relatively free of stimuli. These rhythms are inhibited by the ascending reticular activating system at the onset of an unanticipated stimulus or when an individual exhibits increased mental and visual activity. The rhythms disappear completely when a person becomes drowsy. This “alpha dropout” is characterized by the eventual replacement of the alpha waves by a low voltage, mixed frequency pattern. Once asleep, patterns known as sleep spindles may appear which resemble alpha rhythms but periodically produce clusters of extremely large spikes in 1 to 2 second interval (Niedermeyer, 1993). These spindle formations are referred to as spindle coma patterns when observed in comatose patients who have preserved their normal sleep patterns (Synek, 1988). Despite the somewhat similar appearance to alpha waves, spindle waves are clearly different and originate in the thalamus where they inhibit the synaptic transmission of that structure (Steriade, 1993).
Beta rhythms include all frequencies above 13 Hz with low amplitudes rarely exceeding that of 30 mV. They can exist simultaneously throughout the cortex at various frequencies but are most common to the frontal and central head regions in nearly all healthy adults. Beta rhythms can be extremely fast with an upper limit between 50 and 100 Hz. Enhanced or fast beta activity occurs over isolated bone defects and is also an effect of minor tranquillisers, barbiturates, and some nonbarbiturate sedatives. Remarkably accentuated beta rhythms are usually classified as only slightly abnormal unless they occur in unresponsive individuals, which may be an indication of a severe abnormality (Niedermeyer, 1993). Frontal beta activity may be one of the fastest EEG frequencies and is common in normal sleeping individuals. Posterior beta activity also may be present in some individuals where it mimics the alpha rhythms blocking and enhancement reactivity to eye opening. In addition, localized bursts of 40 Hz oscillations are characteristic prior to voluntary movement, such as wrist or finger extensions, and beta synchronization appears at approximately 20 Hz after movement (Pfurtscheller, 1992; Pfurtscheller 1996).
Delta rhythms consist of low frequency, high-amplitude waveforms recorded between 1 to 4 Hz with amplitude ranges commonly from 20 to 30 mV. Delta waves can be seen in the posterior regions of the head, and/or they can occur on either side of the temporal region. However, they are most often recorded over the left cerebral cortex. These rhythms are produced by thalamocortical neurons and are virtually absent in the EEGs of normal alert individuals. Delta waves are associated with periods of unconsciousness typically appearing in cerebral monitoring during sleep, coma, or after convulsive seizure. They also are common following traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can occur in conjunction with elevations in intracerebral pressure (ICP) due to an obstruction of the cerebral spinal fluid system or an expanding lesion (Rumpl, 1979). In such cases, waveforms of 0.5 to 5 Hz are recorded diffusely over the cranium. Customarily, waveforms below 1 Hz have been classified as delta waves. However, intracellular recordings indicate that these waveforms are derived from different mechanisms than those waves ranging from 1 and 4 Hz. The slower oscillations are generated by corticothalamic and reticular thalamic neurons, and they are significant abnormalities in severe coma patients (Steriade, 1993). ‘Psychomotor poverty’ is positively correlated with both delta and beta power and ‘reality distortion’ was significantly positively correlated with alpha-2 power (Harris, 1999).
Theta and Gamma wave
Theta waves measure from 4 to 7.5 Hz and have low to moderate amplitudes. They are presumed to originate in the thalamus and are associated with the hippocampus and limbic system. Theta rhythms can be recorded in the frontal, temporal, central, and posterior head regions and are rarely the predominant waveform, frequently mixed with alpha and beta waves. In fact, theta waves are most often seen in conjunction with alpha waves despite their different production mechanisms. Theta rhythms appear in various capacities at different stages of development and maturation. These waveforms also play a vital role in conditions of drowsiness and sleep in all ages and may be linked to the emotional processes in children (Niedermeyer, 1993). Frontal midline theta rhythm is a distinct theta activity of EEG in the frontal midline area that appears during concentrated performance of mental tasks in normal subjects and reflects focused attentional processing. Analysis showed bilateral medial prefrontal cortices, including anterior cingulate cortex, as the source of frontal theta, suggesting suggests that focused attention is mainly related to medial prefrontal cortex (Ishii et al, 1999). It has been suggested that immediate memory in humans may be mediated in the theta band (Towle et al., 1999).
Arousal may be a necessary condition for Gamma activity. In states of extremely low arousal (anaesthesia and non-REM sleep), there is minimal Gamma activity and evidence points to a positive linear relationship between arousal and level of Gamma. Sheer (1984) captured the essential role of arousal in the modulation of Gamma in his interpretation of Gamma activity as a `focused state of cortical arousal’. It has been hypothesised that in patients with schizophrenia, the integration, associating, timing, coupling or binding of spatially diffuse cerebral activity related to a specific cognitive task may be a key feature of the pathophysiology.
Neuroimaging studies of hypnosis have identified many of the same cerebral responses posited in the model of meditation proposed by Newberg and Iversen. In both meditation and hypnosis, attention drives the prefrontal and cingulate cortices which interact with other structures including nuclei of the thalamus and brainstem as well as parietal cortices, resulting in states of decreased vigilance and increased attention.
Furthermore, hypnosis studies have demonstrated distinctive associations between certain brain networks and mental relaxation and absorption. Specifically, hypnotic relaxation involves brain areas known to regulate arousal and vigilance while mental absorption involves a brain network underlying attention mechanisms. Additional increases in occipital rCBF during guided meditation and hypnosis may reflect a decrease in vigilance and in cross-modality suppression, associated with decreases in the cortical release of norepinephrine, and leading to a facilitation of experiential changes. Meditative techniques form a dichotomy roughly akin to the extremes of the allegorical spotlight of attention. Concentrative techniques involve sustained focal attention (e.g. on the breath) whereas receptive techniques involve unfocused sustained attention (e.g. mindfulness meditation). Further, meditative techniques may be self guided or externally guided via an instructor or recording. Similarly, hypnosis can be self induced or induced by a hypnotist.
Considering the striking similarities in their experiential and brain correlates, meditation and hypnosis appear to be closely related phenomena and hypnosis may be conceived as a western form of guided meditation.
Yoga is not confined to attire Yoga is not renunciation of worldly life Yoga is not inactivity Yoga is not torturing oneself Yoga is not magic Yoga is not an exhibition Yoga is not a competition Yoga is not merely difficult posture Yoga is not mysticism Yoga is not one’s inherited domain
Who, Where, When and How?
Yoga is recommended to everyone.
One must have patience and faith in the Guru (teacher).
One can start yoga and meditation at any time in their life after understanding the basic fundamentals.
As yoga and meditation facilitates to control kama (lust), lobha (greed), moha (attachment) and control indriyas (senses), hence, one should have good level of motivation and sincerity.
Experience of the self is the first stage which is followed by the second stage that is one of complete visualization and transcendence.
The meditation approach is based on understanding of total personality and cure and not the symptoms alone.
Biologically and physiologically, the subconscious human brain is similar to the animal brain. It runs on preset patterns. The higher layer of brain tissue available to humans is the conscious brain, which provides the realization to free will and choice. If this higher faculty is not used to become more conscious of the higher aspects of life, it is taken away in the next lifetime.
Karmically, to have animals killed en mass in slaughterhouses creates such heavy Karma that it is paid by having humans slaughtered en mass in wars.
Killing plants/vegetables also is an act creating Karma. The protection from the reaction comes by offering those vegetables to the Supreme Person with love. Then the reaction (karmic) to the act is eliminated.
Yoga has been found to be efficacious in: Smoking and Alcohol dependence: Substance Dependence (Bowen et.al 2007), Anxiety and Tension / Stress (Burkett et al, 2006, Lee, 2007, Lindberg, 2005), Insomnia and Epilepsy (Yardi, 2001). Psoriasis, Chronic low back pain (LBP) (Williams, 2005). Immunity (Lindberg, 2005, Roggia, 2001), Cardiac diseases, Asthma/ COPD, Eating Disorders, Depression/ Dysthymia (Lindberg, 2005;Galantino, 2003, Pilkington,2005). Adjunct to Infertility Treatment (Khalsa, 2003; Khalsa, 2004). Chronic Fatigue syndrome, Psychosomatic disorders (Galantino, 2003). Perimenopause/ Menopause (Cohen et al.2007), Prostrate cancer, Carpal-tunnel syndrome (Garfinkel, 1998), ect..
The most important rationale is the growing acceptance of utilizing the human self-regulatory capabilities for the treatment of psychosomatic diseases. Yogic approaches are the prime example of such human self-regulatory capacities (Singh, 2006).
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the yogic technique that enables us to experience “self”. Experience of the self is the first stage which is followed by the second stage that is one of complete visualization and transcendence.
During these stages one would experience
Emergence of consciousness
Enlargement of consciousness
Merging of consciousness with cosmic consciousness.
The meditation approach is based on understanding of total personality and cure and not the symptoms alone. The individual consciousness (jiva) falls victim to the desires, wishes, fears, doubts, convictions, pattern formations and drives which in turn lead to disturbance in the psychic energy and gives rise to suffering and disorders. Meditation helps in relaxation and uplifts a person spiritually. Meditation like Kundalini yoga regulates the neurotransmitters, hormones and enhances coherence between the two brain hemispheres. Chanting mantras, meditation, rhythmic movements have a positive effect on our emotions. The parasympathetic system is activated which facilitates relaxation (Aftanas 2002; Kjaer, 2002).
In the last two decades of research in meditation, scientific evidence suggest that meditation has improved immune response, decreased response to sympathetic nervous system, in modification of cardiac symptoms, reduction of pain, reversal of heart symptoms and slowing of the aging process.
Emotional and spiritual benefits through meditation are far more efficacious and early response is noticed as compared to cognitive restructuring and psychotherapy. It enhances self esteem and cultivates self dependence (Aftanas, 2002; Infant, 2001; Travis,2001).
Most people do not breathe deeply – usually we use only 25% of the lungs, leaving 75% non-functioning. It is estimated that the lungs are made up of 73 million cells. During normal breathing only 20 million cells get oxygen thus 53 million cells remain starved of oxygen due to which the elimination of toxins is reduced causing several diseases.
Regular Pranayam can help in purifying the blood. Breathing air (prana) fills the lungs with the vital force circulating it through the entire body, first to the heart then to the lungs throwing out toxins like carbon dioxide through the process of exhalation. In addition Pranayam can help with chronic respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, sinusitis and other ailments such as heart disease, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, liver cirrhosis, depression, anxiety and so on.
According to the ayurvedic medical science three items kapha, Pitta, vayu (phlegm, bile and air) maintain the physiological condition of the body. Ayurvedic process of treatment is based upon these three items (doshas). With pranayam a balance is achieved in the three doshas, vayu, pitta and kapha.
The prana vayu continues the life and the apana vayu stops the living force.
Mental health benefits
Great yogis find that chanting the omkara (Om sound) with breathing control allows one to bring the mind under control. This is the way of changing the habit of the mind. The mind and desires cannot be stopped. To develop the mind to function peacefully the quality of engagement by the mind has to be changed. The mind is the pivot of the active sense organs and as such if the quality of the thinking, feeling and willing is changed, naturally the quality of actions by the instrumental senses will also change.
Omkara is the seed of all transcendental sounds and it is the only transcendental sound, which will bring about the desired change of the mind and the senses. Even a mentally deranged man can be cured by the treatment of transcendental sound vibration. Breathing control helps to keep the mind calm and free from negative thoughts. Also by regularly practicing these breathing exercises one develops practice of deep breathing which has several health benefits.
Well being that includes good concentration, mental ability and good memory are achieved with pranayam exercises.
Pranayam has several benefits like: Longetivity, youthfulness and vigour.
Other benefits are in respiratory conditions, Allergies, Sinusitis, Asthma, inflammatory conditions like Arthritis and Rheumatism, in Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) Constipation, Prostate gland conditions, reducing blockage in Coronary Heart Diseases, Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, Rejuvenation of skin, boosting of the Immune system. With pranayam and meditation one achieves a transcendental state. In this state the neuro endocrine system is regulated involving the pituitary adrenal axis. The stress hormones like ACTH, Cortisol, Prolactin, Adrenaline and Noradrenaline are reduced and the other good hormones and Endorphins and Enkaphalins etc, increase thus helping in reversing the stress related diseases like Hypertension and Diabetes.
Pranayam brings a balance in the three doshas: kapha, Pitta and vayu (phlegm, bile and air).
Consciousness is the sign of the living entity. The existence of the soul is manifest in the form of consciousness called jnana shakti. The activity of consciousness is performed through the air of life, which are called: prana, apana, udana, vyana, and samana. Pranayam is meant for concentrating upon the localized aspect of Vasudev represented as Paramatma, the Super soul. Pranayam brings stabilization of prana and calms the mind thus helping in the upward journey of prana from muladara chakra (base chakra) to sahastra chakra (cerebral) and helps in awakening kundalini (energy centers).
The various pranayam consists of:
Bhastrika pranayam Kapal Bhati Pranayam Bahaya pranayam Anulom Vilom Pranayam Bhramri Pranayam Udgeeth Pranayam Concentration on Breathing (Meditation)
Chanting Yoga combines two of the ancient processes of yoga – meditation (dyana) and repetition of mantras by concentrating on sound vibration.
Chanting Yoga offers a practical solution to the pressures of our time. According to the vedic calendar, we are now in the age of Kali which has also been called the Machine age or the Iron age. It is a time when it is practically impossible to practice traditional meditation because we are constantly exposed to noise – traffic, mobile phones, music – which has become an integral part of our existence. The nature of the mind is to be restless and this makes it extremely hard to concentrate on what we are doing let alone sit in tranquil meditation. Plus the pace of life makes it hard to find any time for our self.
Chanting yoga is perfectly suited to this modern time of stressful and busy lifestyles:
• You can chant anywhere and anytime • You can chant alone or in a group • You can chant at work, while traveling or at home • You don’t have to wear anything special • You don’t have to sit in a particular position • You don’t have to carry out any gymnastics
Chanting Yoga is a sublime and simple process by which one can attain peace of mind, bliss and everlasting happiness. From the vedic age came the idea of meditating with a mantra – a word or sound repeated to aid concentration. “Man” is mind and “tra” is to liberate. Therefore chanting of mantras frees the mind from entanglements.
Chanting yoga is based on the concepts of self-regulation, relaxation, and holism. If one wishes, these concepts can be extended metaphorically to create a philosophy of living, encompassing diet, health, lifestyle and relationships with others and the world.
The benefits of Chanting Yoga
Success without stress • Reduced stress • Increased focus and concentration • Enhanced creative intelligence • Higher productivity
Better health • Reduced depression and anxiety • Increased physical health • Longevity in elderly
Part of a philosophy of living
• Diet: determining ones diet based on ones physiology and season, promoting optimal nourishment and balanced diet. • Health: physical fitness and good health through prevention – learning to prevent ill health through balanced daily and seasonal routines, proper diet, and higher states of consciousness. • Lifestyle: relaxation and leading a life which is in harmony with law of nature by successfully controlling the expression of the “self”. • Relationships: the deeper goal of yoga sifts out the unreal from the real thus enhancing relationships and family life.
How will Chanting Yoga help you?
A study on meditation in the workplace showed that meditation: • Reorganizes your energy and vital force. • Heightens resistance to common diseases (viral infections). • Pranayam and meditation is known to boost your immune system. • Managing negative emotions/feelings means an individual can achieve success at a higher level and an organization can perform closer to peak efficiency. The bottom line is increased job satisfaction and bigger profits. • Meditation has been known to be effective in reversing heart disease, dealing with negative emotions, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, diminishing anxiety, stopping smoking, weight loss, eating disorders, addictions, boosting the immune system, and improving sports performance. • Helps to gain control of your emotions and mind. • Regularity and punctuality. • Better understanding in family and social life. • Increases memory. • Enhances Virtues like straight forwardness, generosity, honesty and productivity. • Awakening our original consciousness. • Experiencing great peace and supreme knowledge. • Strengthen and recondition your entire body. • Regain youthful flexibility in spine and limbs. • Asanas (physical postures) have shown to improve the flexibility of the spine and help in the mobility of the joints. • Redistribute weight- With the practice of asanas and meditation one can achieve weight loss to a greater degree in a short span of time. Weight can be reduced faster then most diets.
Please read our other articles regarding our practices and sign up for our next fabulous GY Retreat here and see you soon!
For many, the concept of food combining—the idea that some foods digest well together while others do not—is entirely new, and somewhat foreign. But according to Ayurveda, it is an essential part of understanding how to eat properly, just as discovering one’s constitution and state of imbalance is important for one’s Ayurvedic self-discovery. Careful food combining can dramatically improve the quality of digestion, support the body in receiving a deeper level of nourishment, and positively impact our overall health.
However, most people in the modern world are accustomed to eating a number of foods that do not usually digest well together (like fruit with nuts, or beans with cheese). So why does it matter? The Ayurvedic perspective is that each food has a distinct combination of tastes and energies—and a corresponding effect on both the digestive system and on the body as a whole. Combining foods with radically different energetics can overwhelm the digestive fire (agni) and can cause indigestion, fermentation, gas, bloating, and the creation of toxins.1 This is why proper food combining is so important. Of course, certain combinations disturb the digestive tract more than others—an important consideration if this practice is entirely new to you. Regardless of your particular habits or symptoms, paying attention to how you combine foods can provide a valuable opportunity for insight, healing, and improved health. Remember, food combining is not about imposing black and white rules. It is one among many powerful Ayurvedic tools for improving digestive health and overall wellness.
A Balanced Approach to Food Combining
It is usually best to embrace the idea of food combining slowly and gently, allowing plenty of time to make the necessary adaptations. Some of the recommended adjustments are relatively simple; others can require a major recalibration in our habits, or be met with resistance. Often, simply developing an awareness of the improper food combinations that you eat somewhat regularly is a great place to start. Notice which foods you combine that may be difficult to digest together, and how often you indulge in them. Become aware of how you feel afterward. Do these choices affect your energy level, your digestion, your elimination, the coating on your tongue? Are particular combinations more noticeably influential than others? These are all important pieces of information. They can confirm the importance of proper food combining and can help each of us to identify the food combinations that are the most disruptive to our systems.
When you are feeling motivated and decide that you are ready to start adapting your diet to accommodate more supportive food combinations, consider tackling just one change at a time. Perhaps you’ll start by eating fruits alone, rather than in combination with other foods. Over time, you can gradually progress toward the ideal. While it would certainly be nice to avoid improper food combinations altogether, reducing their frequency can also be incredibly beneficial. If you do find that some specific food combinations are more problematic for you or your loved ones than others, focus your efforts on changing just those in the beginning. The most important first step is to become aware of your needs and your habits; from there, you can evolve an approach to food combining that works for you.
Combinations to Reduce or Avoid
The following list highlights incompatible foods and offers suggestions for more appropriate combinations. It is meant to be a helpful guide, not an exhaustive list. In fact, you may be aware of other combinations that do not work for your body. Honor those instincts. Because this resource is meant to help you determine optimal combinations at a glance, there is some repetition. Combinations listed in all caps are particularly challenging.
Compatible and Incompatible Foods: A List
Yes, some of these are staple combinations in many households. Pizza and a number of other beloved Italian dishes combine nightshades with cheese. And who among us hasn’t enjoyed beans with cheese at some time or another? Then there’s the fruit and yogurt taboo… So much for about 80% of all available store-bought varieties of yogurt; next time you indulge in a fruit-flavored yogurt, pay attention to how your digestion feels afterwards.In addition, there are some specific preparations that are challenging when combined with particular foods.
Supportive Food Combinations in Ayurveda All of these rules can feel overwhelming, even irritatingly complicated. But, the rationale behind proper food combining really does make sense. Ultimately, combining mismatched foods generates ama , a toxic substance that is often at the root of imbalance and disease.2 But, for those of you who would like to understand a little more about HOW and WHY these food combinations tax our bodies, here are a few specific examples:
Bananas and Milk
Though commonly eaten together, bananas and milk are challenging to digest together because their qualities are so different. Bananas are heating while milk is cooling. That alone is problematic. Further, bananas become sour as they break down. So now our digestive fire has to process a sour substance and milk at the same time. Ever added a squeeze of lemon to milk? Or maybe you’ve poured a little milk into a tangy, fruity tea… only to watch it curdle instantly? What happens to these mismatched foods in the digestive tract is not much different. When bananas and milk are eaten together, their opposing qualities tend to smother the digestive fire and can disrupt the balance of intestinal flora, which results in the creation of toxins. This combination also frequently causes congestion, colds, coughs, allergies, hives, and rashes.2 A similar situation arises when we combine any sour fruit with milk.3
Eating Fruits Alone
The reason fruits are best enjoyed on their own is that fruit is usually somewhat acidic, fairly simple to digest, and often digests quite quickly. When fruits are eaten with other foods, there is usually a significant discrepancy between the amount of time required to properly digest the fruit versus the more complex food. Inhibited by the more complex food, the fruit tends to move through the digestive tract too slowly and can cause fermentation, gas, and bloating. In addition, the combination typically introduces a number of conflicting qualities into the digestive tract all at once, which has the potential to overwhelm or stifle the digestive fire.
Nightshades and Cheese
This combination is simply too taxing for the digestive fire. A nightshade is a common name for a member of the plant family Solanaceae, which includes potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cayenne peppers, paprika, tobacco, henbane, belladonna, datura, and over 2,500 other plants. Nightshades contain alkaloids, primarily as a means of defense against being damaged by insects. The alkaloids can be anywhere from mildly to fatally toxic to humans. As a result, diverse cultures around the world have long held an intriguing relationship with the nightshade family. Some have been used to make poisons, some contain incredibly addictive compounds such as nicotine, some are mind altering, and others create an incredible sensation of heat in the mouth.4 The bottom line is that nightshades contain a complex array of compounds that, once ingested, lead to a potentially dramatic cascade of chemical reactions in the body. Ayurvedically speaking, all nightshades are believed to be somewhat difficult to digest and to have the capacity to disturb the doshas. When we mix these inherently challenging nightshades with cheese—which is heavy, oily, and also difficult to digest—we can quickly overtax the digestive fire.
Beans and Cheese
Beans and cheese are similar in that they both tend to be heavy and are often difficult to digest. In order to break down properly, they both require a good deal of digestive strength. But, the similarities end there. Beans tend to taste mostly astringent and sweet, can be either heating or cooling (depending on the type of bean), and usually have a pungent post-digestive effect. Cheese, on the other hand, tastes predominantly sour, is almost always heating, and usually has a sour post-digestive effect. The post-digestive effect of different foods occurs once that food has moved into the colon; it affects the urine, feces, sweat and tissues—sometimes even at the cellular level. Two foods with distinct post-digestive effects are typically quite different from one another. This is the case with beans and cheese; when they are eaten together, they tend to overwhelm and confuse the digestive fire. Meanwhile, their combined heaviness makes them even more difficult to process, often resulting in poor digestion and the accumulation of ama.
Ease Into It
Embracing the wisdom of food combining slowly helps us to cultivate a refined awareness around how our dietary choices affect us. This heightened sensitivity can be an invaluable asset, regardless of how quickly we are able to replace improper food combinations with more supportive ones. Be gentle with yourself, progressing at a pace that works for you. You might find it helpful, on occasion, to take a moment to reflect on how your digestion and your overall sense of wellness have changed over time. Proper food combining tends to awaken the body’s innate intelligence, so for most, embracing good food combining habits gets easier with time and practice.
Much of the information contained in this article came from Dr. Vasant and Usha Lad’s cookbook: Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. Our deepest gratitude to them both for sharing an enlightened understanding of how to eat Ayurvedically.
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The Vedic Times organisation follows the principles of Vaishanavism. Many supporters of the VTO are well versed in Krishna Consciousness; however, since the VTO welcomes every spiritual seeker, it seems appropriate to take a bit of time to discuss the history and philosophy of the movement.
History Krishna Consciousness is our original spiritual understanding, which means that its history is actually as old as the universe. However, we will start the history a little more recently.
The Vedic culture (Veda means sacred knowledge) began in India over 5000 years ago. This culture is so named because of it’s spiritual and ritualistic adherence to the Vedas. The four Vedas (Rg-veda, Sama-veda, Atharva-veda, and Yajur-veda) were delivered to the people of India by Vyasadeva in order to make this most ancient wisdom available to all. The Vedas are very technical and difficult for the common person to understand, so other writings were brought into being as a way of bringing wisdom and truth to the less intelligent of society. These works were the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Contained within the Mahabharata is the Bhagavad-Gita, considered by many to be the Bible of the Hindus, but of course, it is really the Bible of humanity.
The Bhagavad-Gita tells the story of a conversation held between the great warrior, Arjuna, and Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personification of the Godhead. Taking the role of guru, or spiritual coach, Krishna carefully guides Arjuna towards spiritual awakening and full knowledge. This text is left as humanity’s instruction manual. Its teachings are simple and to the point, but sadly, human ego drove some to abandon the true message of Krishna Consciousness, and instead to manipulate it to serve their own sense gratification for power and wealth.
Because of this corruption, Lord Krishna entered the world. This time, he appeared as a devotee of Krishna called Lord Caitanya (1486-1534). Caitanya fought against the corruption caused by ego and initiated a spiritual awakening through the sankirtan movement. The sankirtan movement, which is the chanting of the holy names, is the simplest method of reviving our dormant Krishna Consciousness.
The teachings of Lord Caitanya have been passed down from guru to initiate for the last 500 years, which brings us to the founder of Krishna Consciousness in the West, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977). Shortly before his death in 1933, Prabhupada’s teacher, Bhaktisiddhanta Swami, instructed him to bring this ancient knowledge to the West. Prabhupada was finally able to make this a reality in 1965.
Swami Prabhupada arrived in New York in the fall of 1965 virtually penniless, but he was able to set up a small store front temple at the former Matchless Gifts giftshop on 2nd Street. From there he began to chant, give teachings from the Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and other important scriptures. Very slowly people started to notice, listen, and begin to follow the teachings from this spiritual coach. As the 60s moved on, and with the help of some prominent figures such as Allen Ginsberg and George Harrison, the movement grew in popularity and attracted many followers. (It attracted our own Gurudas in 1967).
During the final years of his life, Prabhupada travelled around the world 14 times and wrote over 50 books. He worked tirelessly to make Krishna Consciousness the world-wide movement that it is today.
The basic philosophy of Krishna Consciousness begins with the idea that we are not the physical bodies that we believe we are. Material conditioning has made us accept many falsehoods. Instead, we are spirit soul, which is part and parcel of Krishna.
In the beginning, humans existed in their original constitutional position, as the appendages of God. There was no sense of ego or desire to become anything more. We simply served the Lord and fulfilled His Divine Will. However, as time went on, a false ego developed within humans. This ego insisted that mankind was not just an appendage of God, but rather was its own person. With that mentality, desire for sense gratification developed and grew.
The created world had so many allurements, beauty, sex, wealth, power, entertainments, and so forth, that humanity forgot its true nature. As a result, we spent our time seeking these allurements and trying to find happiness within them. Of course, this is impossible. Any happiness found in this world is temporary, and when it is gone, it leaves a gap that brings misery. Suffering is the common state of existence for one who has forgotten one’s true nature.
True happiness can only be found in the eternal, which means letting go of all our temporary attachments and surrendering to Krishna. By doing so, we may return to our original constitutional positions as servitors of the Lord and find genuine happiness through that service. But how do we do this?
Lord Caitanya taught that the easiest method for reviving our dormant Krishna Consciousness, our love of Krishna and understanding of our true self, was through the chanting of the Holy Names of God. Within the Vedic traditions, the name of God, the image of God, or anything else associated with God is identical to God. So, when we chant the names of God, we are bringing Him into our presence.
The greatest desire of humanity is to see and know God. “I really want to see you Lord,” George Harrison sang in My Sweet Lord. There is a great deal of doubt and skepticism in this world about the existence of God, even from so-called believers. Like Doubting Thomas, they want proof, but it seems no proof is forthcoming. Another line from Harrison; however, says “it won’t take long my Lord”. This is acknowledgement that if one begins the process of chanting the Holy Names that one will quickly experience God and have the proof that is desired. One will soon be in the presence of God.
The Maha-Mantra The chanting that Lord Caitanya spoke of is called the Maha-Mantra (the Great Mantra). It is comprised of three of the names of God: Hare, Krishna, and Rama. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama Rama Rama, Hare Hare
Hare is the spiritual energy of God, and also represents the feminine aspect of the divine as Radha. Krishna, a name that implies universal attraction, is the Supreme Personification of the Godhead. Rama, who entered the world in human form, is the supreme enjoyer. It is through Him that we find true happiness. (Readers from a Christian background may find a strong similarity to the Trinity. Krishna would equate to God the Father, Rama to God the Son, and Hare as the Holy Spirit.)
Lord Caitanya taught that a devotee of Krishna should chant this mantra on a string of japa beads (similar to a rosary). The string contains 108 beads, and one chants the mantra once on each bead. After 108 times, one round of japa is completed. Caitanya advised that one should chant 64 rounds each day. In this way, the mind would constantly be focused upon Krishna to the exclusion of everything else. Recent spiritual guides, such as Srila Prabhupada, have lessened the number to 16 rounds per day due to the pressures and duties of modern life.
The key point is to ensure that one is constantly thinking of Krishna. The process of Bhakti-yoga requires that one offer devotional service to the Lord with love. So, one’s actions should be directed toward the service of the Lord and one should always be thinking of the Lord. In this way, one will remember and regain one’s original position as servitor of the Lord, and not be bothered by suffering from the illusions of the material world.