ne of the primary underpinning beliefs of Ayurveda is that we, human beings, are as much embedded within the natural world as any other animal, plant or insect. Indeed this was a world view that prevailed in virtually every nation and culture until around 200 years ago when industrialisation drove a division between us and nature.
Yet cutting edge science is proving this to be true; the same sub-atomic structure that makes up everything of who we are is the same “stuff” that makes up an oak tree, a leopard and a robin; we cannot delineate “us” from the rest of the natural world.
Why is this important? Because in the Ayurvedic tradition, living optimally, that is to live freely, abundantly and effortlessly, doesn’t require intellectual assessments, academic learning or teacher based guidance. It merely needs the ability to watch, observe and connect silently and intuitively with the natural world all around us.
If we look outside to nature, if we go for a solitary woodland walk or find a quiet spot among one of the many Harbourside paths or up in the South Downs, we will see virtually all of nature slowing down. Deciduous trees lie dormant, hedgehogs and dormice hibernate and rabbits, mice and all other small animals enter into torpor, or mini-hibernation.
During an early morning walk with the dog this week in the crackling frost, it struck me that all of nature, rather than fighting these cold dark months as we do, uses them as a time of regeneration, renewal and quietude. I think we, as a species, can all learn from this.
As we move towards the Winter Solstice this Thursday and onward towards Christmas and the end of the year, this is a golden opportunity for deep contemplation, inner-silence and personal reflection on what we truly want for ourselves in 2018. Knowing who we truly are, what we truly want and how to direct our lives in a manner that supports this knowledge is incredibly difficult in the maelstrom of sensory overload we encounter everyday in the West; emails, texts, phone calls, and social media all conspire to keep our attention elsewhere.
The Ayurvedic spiritual traditions list seven questions that can be used as a springboard to cultivating a deeper understanding of ourselves which include:
Who am I?
What do I truly want and desire out of my life?
What is my purpose in life?
What sort of contribution do I want to make to the world and the people around me?
What are my unique skills, talents and motivations that will allow me to understand and achieve the above?
Who are my heroes, the people who I look to to guide, inspire and motivate me?
Do I exist in a world of meaningful relationships in any context and what do I both take and give to maintain these as a priority?
Thus one of my personal goals for this festive season, amidst all of the excitement and activity that this time of the year brings, is to look to the natural world and use this time of cold weather and long nights for rest, rejuvenation, inner-reflection and a true and deeper understanding of who I am and what I want out of 2018. This will ensure that when Spring comes and the days lengthen, we can mirror the explosion of the natural world around us and ensure that 2018 is full of excitement, health, vitality and the anticipation and realisation of abundance in every area of our life.
I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and New Year, Sam.