The Simplest Way to Change the Entire Mental Field
'When the body and mind are perfectly aligned with themselves and with each other, it is the state of perfect health.’
- Sanjay Pisharodi
Our mental constitution is not set by the five elements. The mind being so much more subtle has the capacity to change and evolve, or the opposite - devolve or degenerate, according to the influences we place upon it.
Due to its highly subtle nature, the mind is very sensitive and therefore can be easily disturbed (or traumatised) by the impressions it receives. However, with positive, uplifting, and expansive impressions that we cultivate daily, we can start to have a profound impact on the mind for our benefit, to experience more calm and peace and reduce worry and anxiety.
“Our impressions serve as vehicles for the emotions, beliefs, values, and attitudes that nourish our intelligence and deeper consciousness.”
I’m sure we can all think of an upsetting news clip that impacts our thoughts and emotions. We can likely think of some music that has made us feel really good. What kind of impressions are you taking from the environment around you each day? Can you be more conscious about this?
The Five Sense Organs
We take in information from the environment through the five sense organs - eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin - in essence, what we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. The 5 senses feed information to the mind. How the mind receives, perceives, or translates that information can have implications for our health. Ayurveda has a toolbox of specific therapies for each sense organ, so as well as feeding information to the mind, the sense organs can also be used strategically to help restore balance and we will touch on some ideas to get started in this episode.
Relieving Anxiety through Impressions
Dr. David Frawley, in his book ‘Ayurveda and the Mind—the Healing of Consciousness’, says,
‘As it is easier to change our impressions than to alter our thoughts and emotions, impressions allow us perhaps the simplest way to change the entire mental field.’
Think about it, how do we feel after spending a whole day in nature compared to being caught in a traffic jam on the M1 for hours?
Think about how much television, films, or news you expose yourself to—are we receiving violent, fearful impressions, or uplifting, inspiring, and positive impressions?
What is the mental and emotional environment you find yourself in most of the time? This can include your relationships—at work, home, and socially, these are all contributing to the impressions that you are regularly exposed to.
Coming back to the 5 sensory experiences and how they can influence our mental and emotional well-being. Ayurveda suggests that creating positive impressions through the senses can be an effective way to support and manage anxiety. Here's how impressions are considered important in Ayurveda for anxiety management:
Surrounding oneself with calming and aesthetically pleasing environments can create positive visual impressions. Colours, artwork, and natural surroundings that evoke a sense of peace and tranquility can help alleviate anxiety. Which colours are calming for you? If you are unsure where to start, perhaps take some colour inspiration from nature.
The sense of smell is powerful and can have a significant impact on emotions. Aromatherapy with calming scents like lavender, chamomile, or sandalwood can create positive scent impressions that may help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Ayurveda emphasises the importance of a balanced and nourishing diet. Consuming fresh, wholesome foods with a variety of balancing tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, or astringent) can create positive impressions on the taste buds and help in maintaining physical and mental balance. Avoiding
excessively spicy or processed foods that can overstimulate the senses is usually recommended. Tongue scraping each morning can help to remove waste and boost the sense of taste.
Music and Sound Therapy
Listening to soothing music or sounds can create positive auditory impressions. Calming music or sounds of nature can have a relaxing effect on the mind and reduce anxiety - think of the sound of the birds, the sounds of water, or gravel crunching under the feet, and the trees rustling in the wind. I personally enjoy going to gong baths, in fact, I am going to one this weekend with Gong by Julia, who has been a guest on this podcast before. Julia uses a range of gongs to create a balancing and restorative effect for body and mind. With the body being made up of a large proportion of water that the sound waves can travel through, it’s not only a good excuse to lay for an hour to I know it’s having a deeper positive effect on my health too. In contrast, I know if I play intense music in the car I notice I am inclined to drive faster, what about you?
Touch and Massage
Ayurveda also suggests that gentle touch and massage can create positive tactile impressions. Abhyanga is a popular form of self-massage using warm oil, is often recommended for relaxation and stress relief, and is suggested as part of a daily routine in Ayurveda. Of course, you can also go for a massage, I utilise balancing oils and techniques with my clients, and as one client said this week ‘that was heaven’. Holding hands, a hug, and noticing the texture of a soft blanket on your skin, are all ways to enhance your experience of feeling on the skin.
Other ways to utilise the senses
A range of positive senses and mental impressions can be created through mindfulness practices, meditation, and yoga nidra. With practice, these can help calm the mind, reduce racing thoughts, and promote a sense of inner peace. Sometimes it’s finding the right practices that work for you.
In addition, regular physical activity, including yoga, can create positive impressions on the body and mind. These practices help release endorphins and reduce stress hormones.
Those things we do on a daily basis can have a profound impact on our impressions and mental state. Therefore, the personalised daily ayurvedic routines we create can really make a powerful difference, because they all bring with them positive impressions. Whilst tongue scraping or a 5-minute self-massage and eating fresh food can sound quite simple, do not underestimate the power of these ancient practices. Choose your impressions wisely! Consider what beauty and positivity you surround yourself with in your home environment, your work environment, and the company you keep.
Proper and Improper Intake of Impressions
Based on your impressions, you may experience some of these. Do you recognise any?
Signs of proper intake of impressions
clarity of sensory functioning
control of the imagination
deep sleep with few or spiritual dreams
lack of need for constant entertainment
clear perception and capacity for creative expression
mental lightness, peace, and brightness
Signs of improper intake of impressions
improper functioning of the senses
disturbed sleep, or agitated dreams
craving for violent or disturbed entertainment
unclear perception, lack of creativity
mental heaviness, disturbance, and darkness
Spend Time in Nature
Nature instantly gives us one of the greatest and most healing, positive impressions we can expose ourselves to!
Spending time outdoors in natural sunlight (for at least half an hour every day if possible!), being outside in the garden if you have one amongst plants, strolling through the trees in a wooded area, in a meadow, on top of a mountain, or by the sea...
We are designed to be in harmony with nature. The natural environment helps us to default back to physical, mental, and emotional health.
Science agrees that spending at least 20–30 minutes a day in natural light gives us adequate vitamin D supplies. Physicians in the UK now prescribe vitamin D for office workers during the winter months who cannot get enough sunlight.
Interestingly, here in the UK there is ’Parkrun’, which is a free 5 km timed Saturday run (or walk) around a park on a Saturday morning, for all ages and abilities, which now has more than 600 GP practices prescribing this exercise in nature for physical and mental health.
The senses are constantly fuelling our impressions, which our mind is very sensitive to. This determines who we are and what we will become. Impacting the thoughts and feeling that we have, and the decisions we make.
Being conscious of the impression we take in via the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin - especially those on a regular basis is important. What’s one thing you could take out of your daily routine and what’s one thing you could put in that would boost the positive mental impressions you are feeding yourself? What would be easiest, what do you have control over right now?
Creating positive impressions through the senses can be an effective way to support and manage anxiety.
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