What Ayurveda Wants You to Know About Food, Sleep, and Sex

Chara Caruthers
What Ayurveda Wants You to Know About Food, Sleep, and Sex

I've got one question for you... Are you getting enough?

And by that, I just mean, are you getting enough of the things that really matter in life?

Our lives are packed full these days. In fact, many of us live in a near constant state of overload. So much so that we don't often have the time to consider what's really important, and then take the steps required to ensure we're getting enough of it. So, since you're here, let me ask you now...

What would you say are the most important things to living a happy and healthy life?

Ayurveda's answer to that question would be food (as you might have guessed), sleep, and... sex (the kind that's based on and nurtures lots of love). In fact, these three are often referred to as the Pillars of Life, key areas to focus our energy and attention in order to feel whole, happy, and healthy.

Over the coming weeks, I'll share the Ayurvedic view of these three critical areas of life to shed some light on why they made the cut, give you a basis for inquiry into your own experience of all three, and provide suggestions for ensuring you're getting the right amounts (and the right kinds) of each!

So let's start with the most critical of the three—food.

Part 1: What's YOUR Mind-Body-Soul Food?

Different to traditional Western medicine, Ayurveda sees you as more than just a mind and body.

To be exact, the Ayurvedic model expands who we are to include a mind, body, senses, and a soul. Each of these constituents needs to be fed in some way. And so the concept of food must be expanded as well...

Food for the Mind

“Food” for the mind is, in a word...inspiration. Thoughts, ideas, and emotions that incite kindness, acceptance, joy, patience, generosity, and love. In my opinion, mind food is meant to bring you closest to a state of peace, presence, and connection to your authentic beliefs.

How to find your “mind” food: You know your mind food by the way it makes you feel. Does it calm, inspire, incite, or relax? Do the ideas, thoughts, and information you consume bring you closer to you? Do they expand your worldview, or challenge your beliefs about who you are?

If they only tantalize and delight without truly nourishing your thinking, they might be a little closer to “mind candy” than food, and may have a similar effect on the mind as candy has on the body!

Food for the Body

Food for the body is...partnership.

It's a give and take relationship that changes as you and the world around you change (throughout the day, month, and year!). Ayurveda recommends that food for the body be fresh, whole, pure, seasonal, and full of life-force energy (ditch anything processed, microwaved, or left over).

Food for the body should be consumed with your senses in a calm and peaceful state (preferably sitting down) and in quantities intended not to overburden the digestion (about as much as you can fit into two hands cupped together).

How to choose the right “body” food: Like a great partnership, you know you've found the right food if it makes your body feel supported, light, strong, and energized, in the moment and beyond.

You find your “body” food by asking questions like, ”Does the food I eat support who I want and need to be in the world?” and “Does it feel like a partnership that's working?” and by being willing to make changes based on your answers.

Food for the Soul

Food for the soul...fills your heart. “Soul” food is at the center of everything. Whether you know it or not, it's what gets you out of bed in the morning, and what keeps you going all day. Your “soul” food reveals what you're committed to in life—laughter, quiet moments, adventure, comfort, connection.

And ensuring that your soul is sufficiently fed is as vital as feeding any other part of you!

How to feed your soul: “Soul” food gives us access to parts of us that we may not know or recognize, but that feel unquestionably...right. It gives us a glimpse of who we were born to be and what could be possible if we had the courage to know and love ourselves.

Feeding the soul is a matter of paying attention to those experiences and connections that remind you who you really are and dare you to believe it!

Are you what you eat?

Our relationship with our food is often complicated by the view that a well-nourished body is the key to health and happiness. The result is that we are hungry minds and souls walking around in overfed bodies, seeking a sense of balance.

Achieving that balance comes from expanding our view of who we are and how we can interact with ourselves and the world in order to get enough of what we really need. And THAT starts with asking a simple question—how do you feed yourself?

Next in this series, find out which comes first: sleep or sex? But first, I'd love to know—what is your “soul” food?