Good health depends upon our ability to fully digest all the food, experiences, emotions, and sensory impressions that we take in. According to Ayurveda, when our digestive fires, known as agni, are burning strongly, we are able to create healthy tissues, eliminate waste efficiently, and produce a subtle essence known as ojas or “the vital nectar of life.” Ojas is the pure substance that’s extracted from food that has been completely digested and it is considered the source of our vitality, strength, and wellbeing.
Conversely, if our agni is weak, our digestion is incomplete and the body begins to accumulate a toxic residue known as ama. Ayurveda considers this build-up of toxins the underlying cause of all disease. A common example of this is the accumulation of saturated fat that is beyond the body’s capacity to metabolize. Over time, this leads to the blockage of the blood vessels and arteries and, ultimately, to heart attacks.
Tips to Nurture Your Inner Fire
Try using the practices listed below consistently for the next few weeks. If you don’t notice substantial improvements, the next step is panchakarma, a powerful ayurvedic therapy that releases toxins from deep within the bodily tissues. Panchakarma is the cornerstone of the Chopra Center’s Perfect Health program, offered almost every week in the sweet spot of the universe in beautiful Carlsbad, California. Learn more about Perfect Health here.
Practice conscious eating Your digestion is affected by the conversations at the table, your environment, and your mood when you eat. If you’re having an argument or watching a violent TV show, your stomach will knot and your digestion will be disturbed. To extract the most nourishment from your food, never eat when you feel upset. Create a settled, peaceful atmosphere for your meals, eat only when you’re hungry, and choose fresh, organic food whenever possible.
Eat a balanced diet To create a healthy body and mind, our food must be nourishing. Ideal nutrition comes from consuming a variety of foods that are appropriately prepared and eaten with awareness. In Ayurveda, a balanced diet is one in which the six tastes of sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent are included in every meal. Learn more about the six tastes here.
Unclutter your life Your inner fire is weakened by having too much wood or “stuff” in your life ― too much debt, too many financial commitments, too many complicated, demanding relationships, and too much clutter. Consciously survey your life and ask yourself, “What am I carrying with me from the past that is no longer serving me in the present, and what would I like to bring into my life that I have previously neglected?”
Do a gentle 7-day cleanse Taking a week to detoxify your body will help release the toxins that are hampering your digestion. Your body will feel refreshed and your mind will feel delightfully clear Find guidelines for the seven-day detox here.
Release emotional pain. While it’s easy to understand agni in terms of food, it’s important to remember that your mind and heart are continually digesting energy and information as well. In fact, the inability to metabolize emotions, produces just as much toxic residue as undigested food. Bottled up anger, long-held sadness, and lingering guilt are more debilitating for most people than problems with physical digestion. If your agni is weak, the cause may be stored emotional pain that needs to be released. Listen to the guided “Move Beyond Your Emotional Pain” meditation podcast led by davidji.
Important Note: If you are in intense emotional pain or have been carrying the burden of painful emotions for a long time, you may also want to consider attending the Chopra Center’s Free to Love workshop. In a safe and loving setting, you will be guided to release your emotional turbulence and rediscover the happiness and fulfillment that has been waiting for you.