The world is filled with magic if one has the eyes to see. Nuances of color and light reveal their cosmic whispers as the seasons ebb and flow, luscious fertile essences are manifested in the waxing and waning of the moon and the rising and setting of the sun.
The systole and diastole of the universe is mirrored deep within the human body unknown to sleeping eyes. The modern world obsessed with “progress” and “products” is growing blind to these cosmic cycles disconnecting individuals from their link to the inner and outer universe.
A Pathway to Return
Ayurveda is a pathway to a return to the sacred rituals and sacred time which exists within each of us and the vast universe as well. In my opinion, one of the primary reasons individuals suffer from ennui, malaise, depression and fatigue is due to a lack of sacred ritual. The surrounding universe exists in perpetual sacred ritual while humans seek to standardize their environments effectively disconnecting themselves from sacred time and sacred space.
Before individuals search for “magical” Ayurvedic pills or superfoods to cure their health complaints, Ayurveda lifestyle protocols or Dinacharya can be utilized to create an inner and outer environment conducive to a deep reconnection to cosmic cycles of sacred ritual and sacred time.
The Ritual of Life
Dinacharya, the daily lifestyle routine of Ayurveda, wields great power in awakening deep vitality inherent within the body. Often taught in a dry and clinical manner, the true essence of Dinacharya adumbrates the rising and the setting of the Sun as it traces its comic path across the sky.
In essence, it allows us to sacralize our day, imbue our mundane life with the rays of the Sun, the ultimate source and symbol of comic Prana. This alone if perhaps one of the most important roles of Ayurveda. The modern lifestyle becomes empty and predictable and disconnected from any source of inspiration or solar impression. Dinacharya has the potential, if understood correctly, to help individuals create sacred time and sacred space into a daily routine which often lacks any Rasa or “juice” which truly sustains.
The daily Ayurvedic routine can be quite comprehensive so I often have individuals focus on three key areas: awareness upon awakening, awareness eating, and awareness before sleeping. These are three powerful opportunities for creating and cultivating sacred space and sacred time.
Awareness Upon Awakening
Awareness upon awakening is deeply connected to the time of Brahmamuhurta, roughly the hours of 3AM-7AM when the rising of the sun infuses the atmosphere with suble cosmic Prana. If we are awake and aware at this time we have the potential to access and assimilate this influx of solar inspiration and allow it to seep deep into our minds and bodies and prepare us for the day.
Awakening at these hours before the start of the day and spending time in prayer or contemplative thought is a foundational activity to plant seeds of transformation and inspiration. One can use established prayers of eastern or western origin or create one’s own using the symbol of Usha, the Vedic Goddess of the Dawn, as inspiration, envisioning the rising of the sun as the clearing away of the obfuscations and ignorance of one’s daily frustrations.
Our first thoughts of the day set the tone of our perceptual experiences. Instead of blindly reading the internet or listening the morning news before rushing out for the day, it’s vital to take the time to clear the mind and literally create a sacred time and sacred space wherein one can create a “Pranic infrastructure” for the day which can guide and support the day’s activities. A consistent morning prayer / meditation has the potential to do just this and in many ways is more important than tongue scraping and chyavanprash. This morning time can truly be the most powerful “medicine” of Ayurveda if properly utilized and understood.
Awareness Upon Eating
The awareness of food is the next aspect of Dinacharya which can be implemented to incubate sacred time and sacred space. One’s “ahara” or dietary habits can create health or plant the seeds of disease and it’s a complex area of discussion. On a basic fundamental level, Ayurveda teaches us that our environment for consumption can be as important as the actual food consumed.
One’s state of mind and literal environment have powerful and subtle influences on digestion and absorption of food which is the foundation for long term vitality. We must learn to see mealtime as a true sacred time, a time of offering up a sacrifice unto the fire of digestion, the jatharagni.
In order for this to occur, we must take time to mentally prepare prior to eating and not blindly force food into our mouths as we read, drive or have conversations. We can create a sacred mental space by slowing our thoughts prior to eating, giving silent thanks for the blessings of food and nourishment; we can create sacred physical space by putting aside our external stimulations and concentrating solely upon the meal at hand.
If we are eating at home, we can light a candle and incense before meals and chant the Bhojan mantra:
“The ritual is Brahman, the offering is Brahman, the tool used to make the offering is Brahman, the fire to which the offering is made is also Brahman. For such a one who abides in Brahman, by this alone is Brahman attained.” ( Bhagavad Gita 4:24)
Essentially we are approaching the sacred flame of jatharagni each and every time we consume our meals. So if we approach meal times with reverence and contemplation, we manifest a sacred time and space both within and within, a true expression of the exoteric and esoteric in unity.
Awareness Upon Sleep
he awareness of sleep in the final aspect of Dinacharya which can serve as a doorway to cosmic Prana. Just as we can use the morning hours of Brahmamuhurta as a sacred time, we can also see our evening hour before sleep as a time of preparation and contemplation, a return to the source of all being. Individuals often fall asleep in front of the computer, television or iphone screen feeding the mind with vitiating images and influences.
Creating a sacred time and space before sleep in a vital end of the day, a method of allowing for deep regeneration of body and mind and the cultivation of Ojas during the evening as the lunar rays or Shakti infuse our subtle and physical body. Creating a sacred space before sleep can be as simple as turning off the television and computer and lighting soft incense and taking 5-10 minutes to clear the mind, or one can spend this hour before bed in deep meditative contemplation and sacred study of spiritual texts / lectio divina.
We must examine the pranic influences in the evening, the ahara of our mind, if we wish to create a sacred time and space before sleep. If we are able to induce deep states of restorative sleep, the seeds are planted once again for long term health and vitality, the creation of deep restorative Ojas.
Sacred Ritual/Sacred Time
It is no mystery why the majority of individuals suffer from fatigue, digestive disorders and sleep disturbance. When we consider how Dinacharya can be utilized to infuse our awakening, eating and sleeping with a sense of the sacred, we can see how the modern lifestyle is lacking just this: the presence of the sacred, the voice of cosmic solar prana and lunar Shakti.
When we lack some type of sacred ritual / sacred time in our daily lives we will constantly seek to find something in the external world to fill this empty space, the ultimate “empty” space being the Mind-Space, the home of Vata, the winds of the nervous system.
Sacred ritual although pranic in nature can ground the light and spacey qualities of Vata by the cultivating attention, focus and devotion; these work in union to ground Vata and allow for the secretion of a specific secretion in the mind, tarpaka kapha, which is essential for the cultivation of long term mental health and mental equanimity.
Perhaps the ultimate lesson of Dinacharya is for us to slow down and take the time to see how each moment of our day, each movement of the sun and moon in the sky, influences us and connects us to the sacred universe within. This is truly one of the “secrets” of Ayurveda which is available for all and can be a true panacea in a modern world empty of sacred time and space.