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  • Writer's pictureGeetanjali Chakraborty

Harmonizing with Nature: Embracing Ayurvedic Living

Two years had passed before I could embark on a journey to India with my two children, a trip that afforded us the extraordinary opportunity to reside on a rural farm. Our long journey across the globe served as a compelling impetus to reconnect with the natural world and realign our lifestyle toward holistic well-being. In Ayurveda, the lifestyle we aspire to embodies a harmonious existence with nature, attuned to our inherent biorhythms. Such a lifestyle is often elusive amidst the hustle and bustle of city life. Fortunately, the serene countryside offers a refuge, preserving a space for our reconnection with the natural world. The profundity of such sanctuaries became apparent to me through exposure to Ayurvedic principles and ancestral teachings from Vedika's classes. Reflecting on these teachings and our countryside experience unveiled a virtuous cycle:

Our reverence for nature enhances our powers of observation, revealing interconnections previously unseen. Through diligent observation, intuition flourishes, gradually evolving into a logical framework that amplifies our intuitive capacities through formalization. These frameworks yield insights surpassing individual intuition, further deepening our reverence for nature, thus perpetuating the virtuous cycle.

Outlined below are poignant moments from our farm sojourn that enriched our immersion in the elements of this virtuous cycle within an Ayurvedic lifestyle:

Dawn's Embrace: Waking up at 4 AM

During the initial phase of our journey, the three of us found ourselves awake by 4 AM, driven not by choice but by the grip of jet lag. However, we seized this early hour as an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the tranquil serenity of the morning. According to Ayurveda, waking up during Brahmamuhurta, also known as the 'creator's hour,' holds immense significance. This sacred window, occurring approximately 96 minutes before sunrise and lasting 48 minutes, invites us to delve into the depths of our creative essence, embracing stillness and joy. Each day, my mother would join us during her customary 'wake-up and meditate' routine, completing her morning rituals before gathering with us. Although meditation at this hour proved challenging with an infant, I found solace in simply slowing down and embracing mindfulness in every activity, a profound reconnection with myself.


Natural Dental Care with Neem

Ayurveda extols the virtues of bitter and astringent tastes as potent mouth cleansers. Among the array of natural tooth cleansers, neem (Azadirachta Indica) stands out, not only for its shade-providing qualities but also for its remarkable dental benefits. Each morning, my daughter and I would eagerly grasp our neem twigs, chewing on them with a sense of gratitude for the opportunity they afforded us.

Reflecting on my upbringing in India, spanning the first twenty-one years of my life, I realize that my early exposure to nature was limited. However, the seeds of appreciation were sown by my grandparents and parents, leaving an indelible imprint on my subconscious.

As I began to rediscover and cherish nature later in life, those memories resurfaced with profound clarity. Now, I am committed to nurturing this appreciation in others, planting the same seeds of reverence for the natural world.

Indeed, while a cultural grounding in nature's interconnectedness is invaluable, the efficacy of nature's remedies becomes even more potent when coupled with an understanding of their effects on the body.

A Journey of Nourishment from Farm to Plate

Each day, my daughter eagerly ventured into the vegetable patches, carefully selecting the produce she desired for our meals. Despite her school's enlightening field trip to Trader Joe's, where she undoubtedly gained valuable insights, her understanding of the origins of vegetables remained somewhat limited. When queried about their source, her response, "from the shelf," underscored a common disconnect from the farm-to-table journey.

However, our farm-to-table experience provided a profound lesson: vegetables do not simply materialize on supermarket shelves. This firsthand connection with the cultivation process not only deepened her appreciation for fresh produce but also aligned with Ayurvedic principles emphasizing the importance of consuming fresh, locally sourced foods.

While sourcing vegetables from farmer's markets offers a semblance of proximity to the farm, nothing quite compares to harvesting from our own garden and enjoying the bounty within hours. This direct connection to the soil fosters a sense of gratitude and reverence that transcends mere consumption, enriching our lives in ways unparalleled by any other experience.

Sustainable Cooking: Embracing Earth and Tradition

Our culinary journey embraced sustainable practices, with our meals prepared in clay pots over a clay oven fueled by cow dung cakes. This environmentally conscious approach epitomized eco-friendliness at its finest. The clay pots imparted a delightful earthy flavor to our food, elevating our dining experience to new heights. Witnessing the cooking process and indulging in the savory aroma left an indelible impression on us.

Cow dung, a natural fuel, proved ideal for slow cooking, further enhancing the sustainability of our meals. A remarkable discovery awaited as I touched the upper part of the clay pot while the food cooked—the absence of heat. This phenomenon, perhaps attributed to the slow-cooking process, rendered each meal effortlessly digestible, enriching our culinary experience in unforeseen ways.

The Sacred Cow

The cow dung mentioned earlier was not sourced from the market but rather came from the cows residing on the farm. Cows hold a revered status in Indian culture, spanning thousands of years. This reverence is evident in the myriad ways these animals contribute to human well-being. In the domain of Ayurveda, ghee (clarified butter) is hailed as an exceptional cooking medium, while cow milk is esteemed as the most nutritious choice for human children.

Moreover, cow dung is recognized for its remarkable utility. It serves as a potent disinfectant when baked, safeguarding homes from harmful pathogens. As a fuel for cooking, cow dung emits an aroma that defies expectations, lending a unique character to culinary endeavors. It's noteworthy that these cows are exclusively grass-fed and spared from consuming unnatural foods like meat. Furthermore, they receive no antibiotics or hormones, preserving their natural integrity.

Traditionally, when cows cease to produce milk, they find refuge in temples, where they are lovingly cared for. On our farm, these cows are cherished members of our family. Even as some no longer yield milk, they receive the same level of care and respect as any elderly family member or beloved pet.

Hands-On Healing: Crafting Oils and Teas

Engaging directly with nature through manual labor offers profound healing on multiple levels. I seized the opportunity to create Brahmi oil, Aloe vera oil, Hibiscus oil, and Rose tea alongside my six-year-old daughter. Witnessing her collect Aloe vera leaves, I was struck by her recollection of the plant's benefits for hair care, a lesson she retained from our previous class at Vedika. The act of crafting practical items by hand, termed "khadi" by Mahatma Gandhi, holds significant value in fostering respect for labor. My personal experience with khadi not only instilled this respect but also deepened my connection to nature.

From the initial plucking of ingredients to the final product's aroma, my heart brimmed with reverence throughout the process. Each step underscored nature's generosity and beauty, amplifying my gratitude.

Utilizing Ayurvedic principles to create self-care products by hand evoked a sense of reverence for the intricate interconnectedness of life. Words fail to capture the profound depth of this experience, wherein knowledge and action intertwine to honor the profound unity of existence.

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