Ojas is the beautiful sanskrit word that explains the essence of life. It is the subtle form of radiance, heath, immunity and longevity. On the physical level, Ojas corresponds with our bodies’ muscle, fat, bones, bone marrow, blood, plasma and semen. Ojas, along with Prana (physical vitality) and Tejas (mental clarity), make up the three positive forms of our constitution or doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha)in Ayurveda. In spring, this essence of life makes itself known in the sprouting buds and singing birds. After a stagnant winter, everything around us is bursting with life and creative juice; and so should we! As our earth receives life from water, air and the heat of the sun, we have the ability to restore our Ojas through the food and thoughts we take in. Ayurveda teaches that we are all born with a certain amount of Ojas. Think of Ojas as your bank account – if you are always withdrawing (“burning the candle at both ends”) – this vital essence gets depleted faster. Some indications of low Ojas are feeling tired, weak, fearful or worried. If you spent this winter catching all the colds and flues around you, that can also be an indication of low Ojas.
Since Ojas is most simply understood as the byproduct of our digestion, (what we digest both physically and mentally), we have the ability to deposit into our life savings account through our diet and lifestyle. Everything from the food choices we make to our relationships can drain or sustain Ojas.
Building Ojas through our diet starts with how the food is prepared and eating mindfully in a peaceful environment. This leaves out sports bars with dozens of loud T.V’s and business lunch meetings. Even if we eat healthy foods, we do more to build our Ojas account if we take a moment before eating to appreciate the source of the food – what it took to come into your possession, who grew it and prepared it. It is with this same gratitude that we then invite our body to receive all the nourishing qualities of the food. There is a good reason why we don’t feel like eating when we are emotional; we digest our emotions with every bite. The awareness of the whole digestion process starts with smelling our food, letting it touch our lips, beginning to feel it in the mouth and tasting it on the tongue before the teeth get called into action. This 30-60 second process sets the stage to eat slowly while sitting down (and not in the car!) Even if we can do this for one meal a day, we are depositing into the Ojas account.
Another way to strengthen Ojas and make the energy available for use in our subtle body is with a regular meditation practice. We lose Ojas through the mouth from too much talking and through the mind with negative or excessive sensory input. The constant stimulation and stressors of our modern lifestyle are always depleting our life-sustaining source. Winter is the season where nature gets quiet and stores its energy like a long meditation. As spring arrives, there is a natural order of releasing the stagnancy of winter and stimulating just enough activity to flourish without exhaustion. As in nature, quality and quantity are both a part of restoring the balance of Ojas.
The home of Ojas is in the heart. So what makes your heart happy physically and mentally? Walking outside and connecting your feet to the earth and all your beautiful senses to the rhythm of nature is another way to rebuild your Ojas. Make your life digestible and Happy Spring!