For many of us on the East Coast, we feel the beginning stages of Spring coming upon us. And for many of us, the last month was the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. It also included the start of the Derek Chauvin trial and increased violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
As we continue to move through these events, let us take a moment to reflect on what we are also carrying with us, what we have stored in our bodies over the winter, and how we can release and let go of that trauma to move into Spring time and action.
When we think of season, we may think of a sister-practice to mindfulness and yoga — Ayurveda. This practice has a long history, possibly longer than yoga itself, dating back 3,000–5,000 years.
In Ayurvedic teachings, there are three Doshas associated with various aspects of life, including the seasons and our own bodies have different Doshas. The three Doshas include Pitta, Kapha, and Vatta.
One of GaneshSpace’s Founding Teachers Tisha Samuels, a student and teacher of Ayurveda, says, “Kapha Dosha, which we’re in now, is made up of Earth and water. So when you think about putting those two elements together, you can think everything is like is mud.”
Spring is is often associated with increased moisture, whether it is in the air, or purely from the rain or as snow melts away. As Spring washes away ice and snow, we may feel the same sense reflected in our bodies, as well as our minds. We may begin to move into letting go of what we have stored from the Winter.
Just as the rain washes away snow and ice, sprouts and buds begin to show up in the natural world around us. Similarly, in our bodies and minds, Tisha says, “March [and] Spring is a time where stored sadness, lamentation, grief and deep seat emotions can surface — what’s been lurking within that is coming to the surface, so it shows up naturally during this time.”
She describes Kapha as a time to not only “clean house” but also, a time “to kind of reset . It’s a time to energetically let go and, and clear out things that have accumulated emotionally and mentally — all of it.”
Reflecting on the last year, we may all have a lot of emotions to clear out and work through during this time. We may not have to think much about what is stored in our bodies from the last year. Between the pandemic, last year’s lynchings and murders, the Black Lives Matter protests, and the increase in AAPI hate and violence — there is a lot that could be in our bodies and minds. Taking care of our bodies and what is stored in us is an important part of the healing process.
Tisha shares some of the ways we can move through this time with Ayurvedic practices.
“Think of the body detoxifying and releasing through the blood, liver, kidneys, heart and lungs. The lungs get damp and congested — this is the organ that represents grief.” Kidneys represent fear and the liver represents anger.
Tisha advises, “Clear and release where you might be congested.”
There are many different ways to cleanse our bodies. We can use food as a means of cleansing and releasing, particularly, Tisha mentions Kitchari, a traditional meal that is used during cleansing.
We can also use our breath as a cleansing tool. Tisha shares several Pranayama breathwork practices which cleanses and promotes releasing in the lungs. These Pranayama practices include Breath of Fire or Skull Shining, a less intense and slower build version.
Tisha also suggests other “heat building” exercises to release.
“Kapha season is a really good time to go for a brisk walk or a jog, if that’s your thing. If you practice yoga, you might want a little more heat building, or a little bit more energetic type of yoga like a vinyasa, or Ashtanga — a little more active type of yoga practice. Taking a bike ride or Zumba class, something that’s going to get you going and help you get all of that out of your body.”
Tisha reminds us, “If we use these practices and tune into nature and the nature of ourselves to ‘spring clean’ what’s accumulated within us (fear, anger, frustration, sadness, grief), we can come to the collective with the ability to act from a place of balanced mindfulness.”
Recent research into trauma interventions supports the idea of involving the body in the healing process, especially from complex trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). One of the first books to detail the connection between the body and trauma was Bessel Van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score. Since then, many researchers have continued to look at how the body processes and stores emotion and trauma, and how alternative practices involving the body, like yoga, have a positive effect on the healing process.
Our Founding Teacher Linda Lopes finished out the latest season of #WakeUpWednesday that featured stories of healing for Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
We also sat down with Linda to reflect on what she learned about healing after speaking with folks about how they heal and practice in the process of healing.
Linda reflects on how healing looked different for everyone. “ I think that’s the beauty of healing. And I think that’s the realness and the truth of healing — that it looks so different.”
Many reflected on how their processes have ebbed and flowed, changed according to seasons or even years, but there are still aspects of their healing process that have not changed — telling the truth and acknowledging what needs to be healed are often ways we release what is in our bodies, minds, and spirits.
“Trina Morris talked about truth being a big part of her healing — just honesty. Indy talked about how there are many different ways to heal, and how that is so important to communicate and share. And like the seasons, our healing is always constantly shifting and changing.”
When we share and speak our truth, we can release what has been stored in our bodies — whether the are words unspoke were housed in our throats, hearts or our minds. We also take a moment to embrace the part of ourselves that needs healing.
“It’s embracing and being truthful about the sadness, the rage, the grief, the lack of clarity, be honest with whatever it is, so that we can move towards perhaps more clarity and change.”
Linda shares that for her, the pandemic allowed her to dig deeper into her healing process and acknowledge a part of her story in a healing way.
“The pandemic has invited me to go even deeper in my healing process. I was able to really sit with one of my most traumatic experiences that happened to me in childhood, and I was not able to really look at it, because it was always there. I got to actually sit with it and ask it, Why do you keep showing up? I was able to share it and speak it for the first time with my family and tell them like what my experience was.”
“Now when I speak of that particular trauma, there’s power when I share it. I feel powerful when I share it. And also when I speak it, the weight of it is a lot lighter than how I’ve experienced it my body for so many years.”
One of the guests for #WakeUpWednesday Listen & Heal also had a journey of healing that started with acknowledging a truth and sharing it with her family.
“I loved in Amelia’s journey, seeing that her healing process helped her father’s relationship change with her husband and the way that her father was able to tell her that he still loves her, even though he was disappointed. It was able to shift. I don’t know, if it’s a narrative, or shift his idea of the tradition that they’re deeply invested in. I love seeing that. How her relationship with her parents leads her to be more truthful and how it deepens their relationships”
Letting our feelings and what we are carrying out to another person may also help them to identify spaces that they need to release, like for Amelia and her family. When we become vulnerable to let go of what we carry, we may find others who need to let go of similar beliefs, experiences, traumas, or feelings.
Part of stress management is cultivating emotional support to relieve the stress on our bodies and minds from the emotions we hold onto. Sharing feelings can be tough to do outside of a therapeutic setting, or even in one. Yet being vulnerable with a support system is a way to not only acknowledge what is being stored in our bodies, but also find comfort and community with others who may be processing the same things, or can offer new insights and meaning.
Another way to release our emotions and process how we are feeling is through journaling. Similar to connecting with others, journaling allows us to release without judgment, and furthers our insights about the pain we are holding and what it means.
Kapha Dosha and Spring is a good time to release and seek therapeutic services, even if it is just for this moment of change. If you are struggling to find a therapist who is Black, Indigenous, a Person of Color or LGBTQIA+, check out these resources: Black Female Therapists, Therapy For Black Men, Therapy For Latinx, Latinx Therapists Action Network, The Shrink Space — National Directory of Therapists of Color, How To Find A Queer Therapist (with a lot of resources in the reading depending on where you are!)
If we think of the seasons, we can see how Kapha and Spring time give us the opportunity to acknowledge, release, and take mindful action towards healing what has been stored up or acknowledged during Winter.
Summer, or Vatta, encourages us to be in an highly active state. For us to be ready to move and take action as a collective, it is important that we take care of ourselves now.
Paving the way towards collective liberation is always at the core of our actionable mindfulness. Some of the actions we discuss here are letting our bodies rid themselves of what has been stored mentally and emotionally. We may also share what we have been feeling or experiencing with others in a way that connects us to community.
Our practice always reminds us that truth-telling is an important part of connecting with others and ourselves. When we acknowledge the truth in ourselves and the world around us, we are able to heal with more clarity.
Letting go is also an act of healing. When we let go of what is stored in our minds and bodies, we are able to show up for others with more room for compassion, love and patience. Our capacity to hold space for ourselves and others is greater when we make room for it.
What am I holding onto? Am I holding any fear, anger, rage, sadness?
How am I working through these feelings?
Am I communicating with my body and asking it what it needs?
How am I showing up for myself during this time? Do I see that my own healing is important to collective liberation? Why or why not?