There is no arguing that relationships require real communication, commitment, and work! Keeping a partnership happy, healthy, and mutually fulfilling is certainly worth the effort.
In this two-part article, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to make relationships work, from an Ayurvedic standpoint. First, we’ll explore relationships through the lens of the doshas, the mind-body elements that govern every aspect of our physiologies, according to Ayurveda. Then, we’ll dive into some general guidelines for healthy relationships. Enjoy!
A Guide to the Doshas and Relationships
Knowing your partner's predominant dosha(s) can help shed light on their tendencies and personality. Knowledge allows for insight, and insight for patience and compassion. Compassionate listening and communication are keys in a fulfilling relationship.
Vata Types in Relationships
Vata-dominant types are quick, creative, and expressive. They are quick to learn, quick to forget, and may get cold easily. When in balance, they are stimulating company—they have amazing intellects. Out of balance, they can become stressed out, nervous, and worried.
Pitta Types in Relationships
Pitta-dominant types are fiery and passionate. They need and want to accomplish. In balance, they love a good challenge; they can be unsurpassed in creativity and fun. Out of balance, however, they can be combative, controlling, and competitive, and may try to out-perform their partner. Pittas can be quick to anger, but with patience, compassion, and a little space, they can easily cool down.
Kapha Types in Relationships
Kapha-dominant types are soft, sweet, and nurturing when in balance. Their laid-back demeanor makes others around them feel at ease and comfortable. Out of balance, they tend towards lethargy, weight gain, and feelings of sadness or apathy. They need gentle motivation and reminders to stay on track in their desires and goals.
Here are a few tips from an Ayurvedic perspective on keeping relationships healthy and balanced for both partners:
General Ayurvedic Tips for Healthy Relationships
Eat "Happy" Foods
You not only are what you eat, but you act like what you eat, too. Food affects mood, behavior, and relationships. If you eat foods that create bliss, your relationships will be happier, too.
Foods that support happy moods are fresh, whole, and organic. The more fresh and digestible the foods, the more they create ojas, the biochemical equivalent to bliss and happiness. Meals that include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fresh milk products such as panir and lassi, healthy oils such as ghee and olive oil, and unprocessed sweeteners are recommended in Maharishi AyurVeda. Foods that are cooked fresh each day by yourself with love, or by someone who loves you, are considered the most ojas-producing.
A school in Appleton, Wisconsin, banned all fast-food chains, candy machines, and soft drinks from the premises. Instead, they fed the children and teenagers whole-grain bread and well-rounded meals cooked with old-fashioned recipes. Since instituting the program, the principal and teachers report that violence, fighting, and truancy are markedly down, while grades and attention spans have soared. Other area schools are adopting a similar program as a result.
Prevent Relationship Meltdown
Almost everyone wants to be loving, kind, considerate, and supportive. The trouble comes when the stress of daily living becomes too great, and then tempers flare, anxiety surfaces, and you find yourself saying or doing something you later regret.
To prevent this type of relationship meltdown, plan your day to prevent stress from building up. The Ayurvedic routine aligns your daily rhythms to be in tune with Nature. Exercising every day, for instance, is extremely helpful in keeping the emotions balanced. Breathing deeply and inhaling fresh oxygen while outdoors is especially helpful in banishing fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
Give Yourself a Break
Getting enough sleep is another key to preventing relationship meltdown. Lack of sleep can cause anxiety, anger, and depression and certainly doesn't help relationships.
Research shows that most adults need 8 to 8½ hours a night, and children need up to 12 hours.
The most direct and effective means of dissolving stress — both the day-to-day kind and the deep-rooted stresses that can ruin relationships — is to practice the Transcendental Meditation® program. Give yourself and your family a TM® break twice a day and watch your relationships blossom.
Practice Unconditional Forgiveness
It's important to forgive unconditionally. Saying you forgive a person if she changes her behavior is conditional forgiveness. This creates a hidden, slow poison that later manifests in the relationship as a dangerous, deadly sickness.
The heart craves unconditional forgiveness. The mind is always trying to set some conditions, but if you forgive someone unconditionally, it will be more healing for yourself. If you practice this over time, your overall attitude and behavior will become more nourishing — and that helps build and maintain relationships. Unconditional forgiveness keeps the mind under the influence of the heart. That's what you need in relationships — your heart predominating over your mind.
Look to Yourself First
Problems in relationships are often caused by an imbalance in Sadhaka Pitta, the subdosha of Pitta concerned with the heart.
When Sadhaka Pitta is out of balance, the first sign is to think, "I am right and my friend is wrong." At a time when you should look to yourself to correct the situation, you end up blaming others.
The Council of Maharishi AyurVeda Physicians suggests following the lead of the saint Kabir. Kabir said that when he started to look honestly at his life, he found that he had to rectify his own behavior more than others did theirs.
Whenever your heart tells you to blame your spouse, your partner, or your friend, take that as an opportunity to scan your own behavior, to see what you might have done to create that difficult situation. If you are honest, most of the time you will find that you have done something to create the crisis — and maybe the other person has also made a mistake, but not as big an error as you first may have thought. This sort of attitude goes a long way in preventing a fight.
Try Stress-Busting Herbal Supplements
To keep Sadhaka Pitta in balance, eat plenty of sweet, juicy fruits and other cooling, Pitta-pacifying foods. Organic Rose Petal Spread is a delicious tonic for Sadhaka Pitta. Add it to warm milk before bed, or spread it on toast. Any time you feel yourself blaming someone else, take a teaspoon of Organic Rose Petal Spread and watch your thinking become more balanced. The Blissful Joy herbal formula is also designed to uplift the emotions and balance Sadhaka Pitta.
Stress Free Emotions and Worry Free are really good for maintaining calm and serenity. Worry Free helps manage stress and worry, and Stress Free Emotions calms impatience, frustration, and anger. Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) is excellent to take every day to maintain strong and healthy digestion, which is the foundation of good overall health.
Know Your Limitations
It helps to know your own strengths and weaknesses. If you tend to get cranky when you delay or skip meals, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and organize your life so you can regularly eat your meals before you get too hungry. Keep a juicy pear or other healthy snacks handy for those times when you really can't eat on time.
For anyone with strong Pitta, eating three regular meals is important, and you may need to plan a late-afternoon snack as well. Eat your main meal at noon to pacify Pitta and lighter meals in the morning and evening, and take Blissful Joy tablets.
For Kapha body types, you may find that lethargy gets in the way of healthy relationships. Take care to wake up early, before 6:00 a.m.; eat light, Kapha-pacifying foods; exercise every day. The invigoration you'll feel from balancing Kapha dosha will infuse new life into your relationships as well.
Vata types should be careful not to let excessive worries or anxieties cloud perceptions. Be sure to get plenty of rest, meditate regularly, do a daily Ayurvedic oil massage (abhyanga), and eat a nourishing, warm Vata-pacifying diet. Worry Free Tea and tablets help calm mental stress and improve relationships.
Understand the Needs of Others
Paying attention to the influence of the doshas can also help you understand the behavior of others. While you may be able to process disappointments quickly, for instance, your wife may take much longer to get over a negative situation. Rather than criticizing her, it's best to recognize that she needs more time to recover and to give her the love and encouragement she needs.
If your child is often disorganized and forgetful, this may be due to a Vata imbalance. You can help him feel more grounded by preparing foods that are warm, nourishing, cooked, and unctuous. Using the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha Churnas and teas makes it easy to accommodate each family member's needs, even if their body types are different from yours.
Practice Harmonizing Behaviors
It helps to make a habit of harmonizing. Positive behaviors not only help relationships; research shows that they also make us feel healthier and live longer. The ancient Ayurvedic texts emphasize this connection between behavior and health, and offer guidelines for health-producing behaviors called Achara Rasayana. These behaviors are considered to be as longevity-enhancing as the special herbal elixirs known as rasayanas.
Achara Rasayana include being truthful, calm, free of anger, nonviolent, charitable, simple, well-behaved, positive, self-controlled, unconceited, devoted to loving and compassion, and having control of the senses.
Achara Rasayana doesn't mean forcing yourself to think positively — it means cultivating a state of health in which it's natural to act harmoniously. These choices include the Ayurvedic diet and daily routine, and, in particular, abstaining from alcohol, engaging in meditation, staying balanced in sleep and wakefulness, eating sattvic foods such as ghee, knowing the measure of time and place, and keeping the company of the wise.
Plan Quiet Time Together
Sometimes the sheer noise of our busy lives can get in the way of relationships. Try infusing some soothing scents and sounds into your home environment. Gandharva Veda music, for instance, even if played at a low volume in a corner of the house, creates a harmonizing, calming effect on the entire household. Maharishi AyurVeda aromas, such as Calming (Vata), Blissful Heart, Slumber Time, or Worry Free, can make everyone feel more relaxed and blissful.
Try creating a "noise-free" zone each evening in which you turn off the TV, turn down the lights, and spend a half-hour listening to music, talking, or reading a book out loud. Spending quiet time together before bed can be as nourishing to adults as to children.
Make Blissful Choices
By now you may be thinking: "How am I going to find time to cook healthy foods, follow an Ayurvedic routine, work my job, and still take care of my family?"
This is where your power of choice comes in. Will you feel happier watching the latest episode of the hottest TV show or getting an extra hour of sleep? Is your time better spent preparing a loving and healthy meal for your family or poring over work you have brought home?
Eating the right foods and following an Ayurvedic routine does take time, but it is time well spent. The good thing is that taking care of your own physical, mental, and emotional health will nurture your relationships, too. And that is a win-win situation we all want to cultivate.
When relationships become challenging, the first thing Ayurveda asks is “are you rested?” A rested person is a more patient, understanding person. A routine that prioritizes rest brings stability to our emotions and to our relationships. Aim to be in bed by 10:00 p.m. when possible and wake with the sunrise. Eat a lighter, well-cooked dinner at least three hours before turning in. Eating a late or large meal can interrupt sleep or compromise the quality of sleep.
Cooking a meal with a loved one can be a wonderful way to spend time together. Everything from meal planning (here are some of our great Ayurvedic recipes, to washing and preparing ingredients, to adding the perfect spice... can be fun, quality activities together. Check out our Organic Churnas if you want to add some tasty spice to your life!
Pamper Each Other.
There is little that compares to the heartwarming gift of coming home from a long day of work, caring for children, or running errands, to find that your partner has lovingly prepared a meal for you; is there undivided to listen to you; or has offered to give you a massage or run you a warm bath. Maybe the act of simply giving your partner space for a long abhyanga self-massage can express genuine appreciation for all that they do. Our herbal Youthful Skin Massage Oils for Men and Women are a balancing addition to anyabhyanga practice. For a quick, yet therapeutic, way to create a blissful environment at home, simply add a few drops of our Calming Vata, Cooling Pitta, or Blissful Heart Aroma Oils to your diffuser and spend the evening unwinding with your partner.
Give the Gift of Attention.
At mealtimes, turn off electronics and give each other undivided time. Ask your partner what you can do that would make them happy this week and do it. Even if it is not a surprise, they will still appreciate that you listened and acted. Have a scheduled “date” night. Once a week, do something special with your partner. Do the dishes after they have prepared a wonderful meal, prepare a warm foot soak and massage for them (add one of our aromas to the water). Make a reservation at a wonderful new restaurant. Watch a movie or show that is uplifting to both of you!
Couples that watch romantic comedies together have been observed to be happier. Engage in a sport that you can both do without stress. Take an evening walk and leave the devices behind! Let your partner know that they are the priority in your life, using words and actions. There are so many ways to show your partner you care. Stay balanced and healthy and bring the glow into your home!
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