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RADICAL SELF-LOVE Rituals: From Ayurveda to the Black Panther PartyShare

Updated: Mar 1


A Brief History of Self-Love + What It Means


According to research published in Frontiers in Psychology, “In ancient Greek philosophy, oikeiosis (self-love) was considered the source of all good and radiated a circle of love, first for oneself, then for one’s children, then for one’s family, and even for all humanity.” The actual concept of self-love may have come into mainstream consciousness throughout the Western world during the 1950s, when Eric Fromm published The Art of Loving. In his book, Fromm explained that loving ourselves and loving others are not opposite. Rather, an “attitude of love toward themselves,” wrote Fromm, “will be found in all those who are capable of loving others.” It was the author’s belief that self-love is the essential precursor to being in harmonious relations with all those around us.

Earlier in human history, around the 13th century, Rumi wrote:


You are the fearless guardian

of Divine Light.

So come, return to the root of the root

of your own soul


With these words and many others, the Sufi poet emphasized the connection to the divine within each of us as a path to greater oneness with the universe. Likewise, the ancient Buddhist practice of cultivating compassion through loving-kindness meditation (metta) works to increase self-love in an effort to extend and radiate more love beyond oneself and into the greater world.


In a 2023 article in TIME magazine, the psychologist and Heal With It podcast host Maytal Eyal claimed that self-love could be making us lonely, perhaps because today’s iteration of it “veers from its authentic origin.” Eyal laments: “Chewed up and spit out by toxic consumerism, it has been drained of its relational potential. It is a force of isolation, rather than attachment.”



While Eyal certainly has a point about how the concept of self-love has been manipulated in some pretty unhealthy ways, what if we embraced Rumi’s invitation and dug a bit deeper down into the root of the root of our own souls, into the ancestral tapestry of self-love woven over centuries, and explored the possibilities of incorporating simple, ancient self-love rituals into our everyday lives? While some of the Ayurvedic practices we’re highlighting this week require tools—a tongue scraper or an oil tailored to your dosha, for example—most require no financial investment of any kind.

But before we dive into 10 Ayurvedic Rituals for Self-Love, Mood and Pleasure, let’s examine the radical Black roots of self-care in the United States.


Self-Care’s Radical Roots

The BBC reports that self-care is now a trillion-dollar industry encompassing a plethora of products, tools, immersive and educational experiences, and retreats. As reported by the scholar Shahidha Bari, self-care’s philosophical roots include “often overlooked origins in feminist activism and the struggle for civil rights.” Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, Associate Professor of History at The New School, told Bari that ““a lot of the power of the contemporary wellness moment derives from the fact that people whose bodies and ideas were long marginalized by a mainstream medical, commercial, athletic establishment, that a lot of those people’s ideas are what gave rise to this moment.” In the 1960s and 70s, women’s empowerment included “reclaiming their own bodily health and own bodily

strength”, leading women to be the top consumers of wellness-centric goods today.


“Particularly for women, who are so often expected to care for others,” explained Mehlman Petrzela, “the notion of taking time for yourself can be seen as selfish or indulgent. And I think that in that very basic sense, self-care absolutely can be a feminist act.” Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and Gloria Anzuldúa all wrote about “the necessity of women of color to practice self-care and self-love in order to deal with the daily onslaught of racism, sexism, homophobia, and class oppression” (ISU).

 



Beyond feminism, the health activism and self-care focus of the Black Panthers were critical elements of their campaign against racial discrimination, which was most active around the same time that women’s liberation was gaining steam in the United States. Mehlman Petrzela says the Black Panthers were “putting bodily well-being and health at the center of their politics,” to which Alondra Nelson, Professor of Social Science at Princeton University, adds that segregated care at U.S. medical clinics made health a fundamental issue for Black activists and organizers.

“The Black Panther Party, for a short time, created a national network of free health clinics,” Nelson explained. “So, by the time we get to about 1969, early 1970, any group that wanted to call itself a Black Panther chapter was required to sell copies of the Black Panther newspaper, but also to have a health clinic.” Bari explains that the Black Panthers’ health activism encompassed a broader idea of well-being beyond healthcare, and “naturally extended beyond traditional medicine too, because it entailed a wholesale reimagining of what being well could mean for African Americans.”

So while self-care propaganda may be “making us lonely” (if we accept Eyal’s definition of how it is being misused in our modern way of life), self-care has always been crucial to the survival of marginalized peoples. For generations of resilient women and people of the global majority, self-care and self-love have never been trivial trends; rather, they are communal practices of resistance, fortifying entire groups of people to think, speak, and act from a place of deep love for the individual and the collective. 

To learn more about botanical Black history, watch this short clip, or read the full article here.



The Ayurveda Way: Transformative Self-Love

Ayurveda combines plant medicine and lifestyle approaches to bring balance and harmony to one’s life. Homeopathy has roots in Ayurveda, and much of Western medicine comes from Ayurvedic principles. Although much of its original teachings are lost, Ayurveda is a recognized and certifiable medicinal practice in India today.

What makes Ayurveda special is its individualistic, whole-person approach. In Ayurveda, each person has a unique energy imprint, which creates one’s constitution. Ayurvedic medicine examines and ultimately treats each person through a deep understanding of their physical, mental and emotional traits, so they can adjust their health and regain mental, emotional, and physical balance.

 

According to Ayurvedic physician Dr. Manas S. Kshirsagar, “Self-love has been a principle tenet of Ayurveda for thousands of years. Ayurveda believes that your Self chose your body to fulfill your life’s purpose.” Your unique dharma cannot be fully realized without accepting yourself; therefore, self-love is the very first step in a lifelong journey to self-compassion, service and unconditional love.


Viewed through this lens, self-love is a path to equilibrium. Rejecting our own temptations for self-judgment and acts of violence against the Self—even in the smallest form of an unkind thought or word—is a crucial tool to prevent excess ama (toxins) from building up and wreaking havoc on our emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual bodies. We hope you can now better understand these Ayurvedic rituals for self-love, mood, and pleasure are not indulgent, costly or even complex. From both the Western and Eastern origins of self-care, we can see that it is a form of preventative medicine, a source of healing by turning our attention inward, and a gateway to sharing our purest intentions with others once we are fortified and ready to extend ourselves with open hearts.



Ayurvedic Rituals For Self-Love, Mood + Pleasure

1. Maintain dinacharya (daily routine)

In Sanskrit, dina translates to “day” and charya is a routine or practice, hence dinacharya is an Ayurvedic invitation to nurture yourself daily by balancing your doshas. In Ayurveda, the morning is an ideal time to practice these rituals to sync your natural rhythms with those of the Earth. Keep reading for some morning meditations to help you set daily intentions and cultivate more self-love.

 


2. Move with Earth’s rhythms

Rise with the Sun (or better yet, wake up before sunrise), and try to go to sleep before 10:00 p.m. In Ayurveda, it is said that vata is transcendent at sunrise. Rising late may have us falling under kapha’s more weighty earth energy and out of harmony with nature’s light, which can offer us vata-like clarity and ether energy if we seize the moment. Vata dosha is especially beneficial for an early morning meditation practice. When it’s time to wind down around 6:00 p.m., you’ll be cycling from vata to kapha dosha, supporting a gradual transition to slumber. According to the Ayurvedic Clock, pitta dosha is most active from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., a period of resting and digesting—a chance to recharge not just the body, but to recover from the day’s emotions and experiences. Late Winter and Spring is Kapha season, with the latter half encouraging us to move beyond the watery stagnation of built-up kapha and into a lighter and brighter season of shedding accumulated excess.


3. Eat Mindfully

Choose seasonal foods that help balance your unique constitution (dosha), and walk after eating to help digest your meal. Make lunch your largest meal of the day—that’s when digestive fire (agni) is at its strongest and pitta’s fiery energy is dominant. Follow with an early light supper as to not overtax your digestive system, allowing your transition to a restful state to be more peaceful.

 

4. Move your Body

Practice yoga poses (asanas) paired with intentional breathwork (pranayama) to balance the mind, body, and spirit. Here are a few heart-opening asanas to help deepen your compassion for yourself, and by extension, for others: 

Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

While stretching the front of your body and strengthening the back, ustrasana expands the chest and ribcage for deep heart opening, vulnerability, and the release of pent up emotions.

Ostrich Pose (Shuturmurgasana)

Surrendering in a forward fold while powerfully opening the heart helps build self-acceptance as it grounds and strengthens our proprioceptive awareness.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

The spiritual number of three encourages the union of mind, body and spirit, as well as past, present, and future. The back leg (symbolic of the past) supports us so that the front leg and arm may be outstretched to the future, while the hips (symbolizing the present) stabilize the body.

Sphinx (Salamba Bhujangasana) or Cobra (Bhujangasana) Pose

Uplift your spirit, relieve stress, and open your heart as you pull your shoulders back, lifting both your head and your morale. In the more gentle Sphinx posture—which symbolizes the divine balance between strength and inner calm, effort and ease—many will find an opportunity for grounding and soothing through the restorative act of opening the chest and neck, but most importantly, the heart. 


5. Speak kindly

Even if you don’t fully believe the kind thoughts and speech you offer to yourself (and others!), try anyways. You’ll be creating powerful, healing messages for your brain to start recording, offering a positive feedback loop of your own making. Keep reading here for some evidence-based motivation for hacking your brain’s happiness potential to support better psychological and physical health.


6. Mind your mouth

For optimal oral health, swish a tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for 10-15 minutes. Spit out the oil after use. After “pulling”, gently scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper to remove toxins and bacteria. For herbs used since ancient times for healthy teeth, read this. If you’re looking for a flouride-free alternative to commercially available toothpaste, try our vegan tooth polish


7. Massage yourself

Abhyanga (self-massage) with warm oil conducive to your unique dosha helps nourish the body. Massage in the direction of the follicles to rid the body of toxins, improve circulation, and ease the symptoms of mental and physical fatigue. It also helps prepare the body for digestion (see below for more on next steps), so drinking warm water signals the body that it’s time to wake. Be sure to bathe after so that excess oils are released from the skin, and enjoy some silent prayers of gratitude! For a step-by-step guide to lymph drainage self-massage, keep reading here.


 8. Sip warm water

To aid digestion and support detoxification, Ayurveda suggests boiling water for at least 10 minutes to enhance the benefits of hydration and rejuvenation. Garam pani (hot water) helps to cleanse the digestive tract while stimulating the lymphatic system. Cellular ama (irritating toxins) is removed more efficiently with hot water, allowing for the circulatory system to do its best work.


 9. Try aromatherapy

The Ayurvedic pharmacopeia is filled with aromatic plants that are well known throughout the world, as well as its own collection of unique species. Herbaceous species include Tulsi (Holy Basil), coriander, sages, fennel and mints. Aromatic roots include Vetiver, Valerian, and Calamus. Flowers include Rose, Jasmine, marigolds and lotuses. Tree species include Sandalwood, cedar, agarwood, pine, and Eucalyptus. Many resins are utilized, including Frankincense and guggul, a species of myrrh. Ayurveda is of course rich in spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, long pepper, ginger, nutmeg, and clove. Several aromatic grasses are found, such as lemongrass.


Essential Oils and Ayurveda

Naturally derived and potent, Ayurveda utilizes essential oils to gently restore balance to your energy, including:

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Concentration and focus issues

  • Low energy and sluggishness

  • Stress and anxiety symptoms

  • Depression or mood swings

  • Manic energy Anger and irritability

  • Lack of mental clarity or motivation

  • And much more.


For Vata dosha: Try grounding oils like Lavender or Frankincense.

For Pitta dosha: Try cooling and soothing oils like Rose, Rose Geranium, and Sandalwood.

For Kapha dosha: Try warming and stimulating oils like Eucalyptus, Cypress, or Tulsi.


10. Enjoy yogic sleep (nidra)

Dim the lights, reduce or eliminate your screen time, and practice relaxation techniques in the last few hours before bed. And if you’re in Brooklyn, join us tonight at the apothecary for a Yoga Nidra (Psychic Sleep) practice to enter a state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep referred to as hypnagogia. This state involves moving from consciousness while awake to dreaming and then to not-dreaming, while remaining awake—going past the unconscious to the

conscious, induced by guided meditation. This practice can cultivate conscious relaxation, ease ongoing stress and anxiety, and allows the body to melt away into a soothing state of being. Deep rest and restoration can be achieved through a Yoga Nidra practice of listening and somatically sensing. Upon arrival, enjoy a complimentary cup of Blue Lotus tea before settling into your guided Nidra experience. All guests will also receive 10% off our products if desiring to purchase any apothecary items post-Nidra.



Ayurveda-Inspired Apothecary Picks

ESSENTIAL OILS

Naturally derived and potent, Ayurveda utilizes essential oils to gently restore balance to your energy, to aid with meditation, to calm mental overwhelm, to ground, to warm, to cool, and as centering tools for harmonizing each unique dosha.

GOLDEN SUN + MOON MILKS

Inspired by a traditional Ayurvedic wellness ritual, haldi doodh (golden milk) is an ancient medicinal drink with anti-inflammatory powers. Awaken and focus with our Sun formula, or relax and restore with our Blue Lotus Moon blend.

ASHWAGANDHA

Known in Ayurveda as a medhya rasayana and revered for its ability to boost mental capacity, this adaptogen is deeply healing for the both mind and emotional constructs. We like to call it “Nature’s Chill Pill”.

TURMERIC

Anti-inflammatory turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine and in other rainforest cultures for over 4,000 years to alleviate pain, ease digestion, prevent cancer, and more. Our organic, single origin heirloom variety is grown in a women’s cooperative in Guatemala.

MORINGA

Ayurveda considers moringa to be heating in action, bitter in flavor, and pungent in post-digestive ability. Cleansing, energy-boosting and detoxifying, historical Ayurvedic texts refer to moringa as “sigru”, meaning “moves like an arrow” through the body’s blood, fat, and tissues.

MUCUNA

In Ayurvedic pharmacology, Mucuna is classified as an aphrodisiac and rasayana (rejuvenative). From the Ayurvedic perspective, aphrodisiacs can tone the organs that contribute to rejuvenation (ojas). Its restorative benefits can be observed in the brain, nervous, immune and hormonal systems.

Original post ANIMA MUNDI



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GABRIELA ANA

Health Coach

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