Living the American dream is taking a toll on our body and minds. I don’t mean to generalize, but most Americans have exhausted themselves– mentally and physically. This constant pushing ourselves in every direction: at work, at home, with family obligations, we are burning out at arapid rate. We have become a society of constantly doing! This full steam ahead approach can cause the mind to become “fiery” or “overheated”. We don’t know how to turn off our “to do” list and we are becoming more and more detached to our true nature. It is essential that we begin to see the patterns of this overdoing and over-being and begin to ask ourselves questions: Why are we doing this? Who are we doing this for? How do we decrease our stress levels?

This exercise is an invitation to calm the mind. A calm mind has the ability to make clear decisions. A calm mind allows you to be present in life and be more joyful in the moment. A calm mind can create better sleep at night and add more stamina in your day. Once we begin to understand how the client operates, we can suggest effective changes to improve mindfulness, empowerment and health.

I have taken the principles of Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga and a 5,000-year-old philosophy and holistic approach, into the modern day world. Ayurveda or “the knowledge of life” is based on the five elements; Fire, Air, Water, Earth and Ether/Space. These elements are in our food, our environment, our bodies, our minds, our herbs, and spices. Ayurveda’s focus is to keep these elements in balance in order to create the homeostasis needed for health and harmony. We will be focusing on the Fire element as fire is related to burning out. Here are just a few possible signs of too much fire in our system: criticism of yourself and or others, being overly judgmental, shortfused/impatient, fiercely competitive, argumentative? Can you relate to any of these? Notice how these traits contain a fiery element?

These traits are highly celebrated in our culture, actually imperative to success many say! To some degree, the fiery nature is helpful, but again, finding the balance is fundamental. If any of these traits resonate with you, it might be time to look at cooling that fire by bringing in food, herbs, breath work, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy or guided imagery. Now don’t get me wrong, balanced fire is good! It is what leads to great leaders, organizers, orators, entrepreneurs, and innovators. But these people need to be able to stay in these professions for the long haul!!

Identifying the fiery mind:

A checklist to identify if this applies to you:
(1 is not at all, 3 is sometimes, 4 and 5 is a strong yes)

1. Are you competitive?
1   2   3   4   5

2. Are you critical of yourself?
1   2   3   4   5

3. Are you critical of others?
1   2   3   4   5

4. Do you push your mind and your body to unhealthy limits?
1   2   3   4   5

5. Are you argumentative? always trying to make your point?
1   2   3   4   5

6. Do people say you are intense? or too serious?
1   2   3   4   5

7. Are you impatient or short fused?
1   2   3   4   5

8. Do you experience acid reflux or heartburn?
yes   no

9. Do you get up in the middle of the night and have a hard time going back to sleep
yes   no

If the majority of your answers fall in the 4 to 5 range and you answer “yes” to the narrative questions then here are some great tips for bringing that fiery mind back into balance.

  • Allow free time every day. Enjoy the beauty of nature–the blueness of the ocean or the incredible lushness of the forest. These colors are especially great for ‘cooling the mind”.
  • Switch from that 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee a day to a mint or chamomile tea?
  • Try rose, lavender, peppermint, or sandalwood essential oils in your aromatherapy diffuser at work or at home?
  • Eat more cooling foods such as cucumbers, melons, grapes, coconut and coconut water, avocados, pomegranates. Add asparagus, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, and pumpkin seeds to your diet. Chose spices like cilantro, cardamom, fennel and coriander to your dishes.
  • Decrease (or remove) the intake of fiery foods like spicy Thai food, hot sauces on Mexican dishes, or flame throwing curries on Indian food.
  • Sit in stillness or meditate at least 15 minutes a day. Guided imagery is a wonderful tool for an overactive/overstimulated mind.
  • Monitor or reduce alcohol intake, as it can be highly heating.
  • Try a cool yoga practice: standing forward folds, cobra pose, moon salutations, and twists, at a slow flow pace. Limit hot yoga or Ashtanga styles for these heighten heat in the body and the mind.
  • Turn off the cell phone, computer, and television an hour before bed. We need to decompress!! This decompression is crucial to activating the parasympathetic nervous system. If we are tied to that constant barrage of “doing-ness” all day and night,our body cannot get into the“rest and relax” mode.
  • Alternate nostril breathing as part of your breath work or just take deep long exhales, like that big old much needed SIGH…great for releasing heat.