The Counter-intuitive importance for Vata Dosha of *Scheduling*

Hi friends,

It is an interesting principle of Ayurveda that, the doshas inherently tend to have preferences, or to take action in directions that,  are often contrary to what might actually contribute best to the good or well-being of that dosha.


So for that reason, Vata dosha always seeks freedom, movement, being unfettered by all bonds of space and time, including very prominently, restrictions of Schedules.


Vatas love a free and unhindered schedule! (for the most part).   Very Vata people will want to have the whole day open and free, so they can freely explore various options and make use of their time in the way that they feel is best in that moment.


Brief Illustrative Contrast with Pitta (Love of Schedules)

This contrasts largely with the Pitta temperament, which is inherently metabolic (likes breaking things, or events, or appointments, or plans) down into small and digestible pieces, to be completed and carried through in a rational, scheduled way.

People of strongly Pitta temperament with respect to mind and scheduling, tend to be those who love to block off their day-timers,  to have things set,  to eat lunch and dinner at precisely the same times every day, and to know what will come next and what has been completed.


According to Ayurveda, Pitta people could actually gain a bit more balance by loosening up this rigidity of schedule.


Vata is aided by “Schedules”

But Vata people may actually be aided by bringing a bit more scheduling into their lives.


Why?  As many Vata-dominant people have told me,  they tend to lose all bearing, and often wind up getting less things done, rather than more (as they initially hoped) from a totally free and open schedule.


This may be expressed physiologically also as anxiety, uncertainty, and bowel issues (diarrhea, or much much more commonly for Vata, constipation).


Many Vata people have had this experience of Constipation, seemingly chronically in their lives,  and know not precisely from whence it comes….


But many of them find, seemingly miraculous, that when they are forced into, say, a kind of Day-job where they have to wake up in the morning, eat something, and go into work at the same time each day,  that miraculously their elimination/excretive processes are fixed up, and they find themselves having a (mostly) regular bowel movement ever single morning,  just as “clockwork” as the Pitta person.


(Indeed, the phrase, “like clockwork” might be revealing in this sense — it denotes regularity, and the Vata person who is forced onto the clock, may find that their Physiology responds very well to this scheduling, in the form of (not only getting more things done),  but also a reduction of Anxiety,  frazzled-ness, and a remedy of constipation/digestion/ elimination problems).


Now, this should be taken in moderation — of course, the Vata person will still find it useful (and important) to maintain some good degree of freedom in their lives (especially doing work that they find not a Drudgery but something personally Meaningful.)

But on the scheduling side of it, it is often advisable for Vata people to try to set themselves a good schedule, some way some how,  usually against their own original intuition/will,  and see if this brings their physiology and digestion into better alignment.


Summary of The Key Point:

  • If you are of the Vata dosha, and find yourself frequently unmoored, or suffering from a lack of direction in your life (very common for Vata), or having Constipation/Digestion issues (extremely common for Vata!),  then a strong recommendation of some Ayurvedic practitioners is to try to develop a Schedule and stick to it.


Final note —  This may seem difficult at first, but search online for various methods to make and keep schedules.  You need not be rigid as a board,  but at least having some positive scheduling in your life, to have appointments a bit more clearly delineated, is very likely to help your physiology and psychology as a whole.    Try it and see.  Good luck  🙂


Vata Issues — IBS, Hyperglycemia, Constipation, and relationships with Vata’s inherent Anxiety

In connection with my earlier post regarding some issues facing those whose predominant Ayurvedic dosha is Vata doshaI would like to briefly discuss some other things Vata very often has to deal with: in particular, constipation, IBS, and Hypoglycemia/Hyperglycemia.

*(Discussion of bowel issues is indeed taboo in most Western society: issues of “the Bathroom” are often thought off-limits to discuss in the parlour, or (god forbid) the forum. That said, I tend to believe these taboos may be less than helpful to our lives; for little is more natural than these natural functions, and it seems singularly unnatural to suppress advice or discussion of problems regarding them — in just the same way as it is unhelpful to suppress the functions themselves!)

I raise this issue not at random either; previously I blogged about scheduling difficulties facing many Vata dosha people, which is a problem I face every day in my life, and so too with this one — generally poor movements of the bowels (and hyperglycemia) are issues that have plagued me for much of my life.

Such bowel issues may be diagnosed, in Western medicine, as “IBS,” or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Irritable Bowel seems to be largely a catch-all for those with various bowel issues. This can manifest as chronic problems with diarrhea, or with constipation, or with both (I have friends who speak of having IBS manifesting as both extremes).

One thing that interests me, is the strong Vata tendency towards constipation and bowel issues, as well as the Vata tendency towards blood sugar problems such as Hypoglycemia/Hyperglycemia.

In Western medical science, we would have a tendency to divide these up into separate and distinct issues — (say, IBS and Hypoglycemia) — but it often strikes me that Ayurveda tends to see them as all holistically linked — highlighting interdependent issues of body, mind, predominant doshas, lifestyle, psychological problems, diet, etc., etc.

Which is to say, that someone with Vata issues, both of the body and of the mind, is likely to have problems with Hyperglycemia, as well as a tendency to Constipation.

These may largely come from, or be closely related to, the leading “psychological” or “psycho-spiritual” issue facing Vata, that being the experience of Anxiety.

Dealing with Anxiety for Vata, as relates to IBS and Hyperglycemia

I know that the times I have anxiety or uncertainty in my own life, personally, are the same times I tend to experience the extremes of Hyperglycemia, Hypoglycemia, and issues with IBS/Constipation.

Maybe this is an obvious one — it sure seems obvious now that I read what I have written — of course the body works holistically, and of course our mental issues such as anxiety or uncertain situations, will impact on our physical organism.

That said, I think that this can be something useful for Vata in particular, to keep in mind — viz.:

*Vata must remember the importance of a (so far as is possible) calm and peaceful environment and lifestyle.*

Ayurveda highlights that Vata people, especially when they are experiencing problems with digestion, evacuation, or with metabolism (blood sugar), would do well to look at their problems not only from a physical point of view (e.g., look for physiological reasons and take medicines or supplements that address the issues of symptoms), but also from psychological, environmental, mental, emotional, or “psycho-spiritual” viewpoints.

This means, for Vata, in particular looking at what kinds of experiences, or elements of their lifestyle, may tend to make them feel scattered, nervous, over-stimulated or over-worked, or anxious.

And to consider these lifestyle elements carefully, and to consider whether it might be possible to eliminate them (or reduce their deleterious impacts) from their lives.  

My own experience: It is times of upheaval in my life (or, in particular, pertinent to earlier discussion, times when I have no set schedule and everything is uncertain…) that I experience the greatest issues with IBS/constipation, as well as Hyperglycemia.

Why should this be the case? Psychological elements of Constipation:

Psychospiritually, it may seem surprising that one’s body might react to times of uncertainty with Constipation. It might seem instead, that diarrhea should be the result — that so much “movement” is occurring in the consciousness of the organism, that this movement should also take manifestation in the physiological functions.

That said, we might cite a tendency of Vata anxiety to “hold on tight” to things — to try to keep everything held onto and “packed in,” in the primal anxiety of the organism for its own integrity and wholeness — and this can be seen to perhaps manifest as the organism (including the bowels) clutching onto everything, not releasing anything, largely as a reaction to this primal fear.

Vata — avoid stress during Meal Times! 

Perhaps I have already written far too much here.

But I wanted to make one further point, which is perhaps for me personally the most important point in this direction — which is the need for Vata, particularly for people with tendencies to Hyperglycemia (blood sugar spikes) or even Diabetes, to avoid stressful feelings during meal times.

Though it is of course difficult to avoid stressful feelings (though positive self-talk, and relaxation and particularly simple meditation techniques can be of great help — just prior to and during a meal) — what is (or can be) well within the Vata person’s control is the environment in which they eat. 

I find that it makes a world of a difference towards my physical well-being, how (relatively!) calm and peaceful is the environment and setting in which I take my meals.

(I could have a meal that would spike my blood sugar through the roof in a cacophonous, raucous setting, that might seem quite relatively easy to handle, physiologically, if I am eating somewhere that is tranquil, comfortable, and un-challenging.)

Eat Lunch or the Mid-day meal, in particular, in a calm and peaceful manner.  

Ayurveda recommends in particular, that Lunch or the Mid-day meal, be taken by Vata in a preferably calm, peaceful, and un-stressed way. Perhaps because this is the meal whose energy we partake of throughout the whole afternoon; (and much of the afternoon partakes of so-called “Vata time” (i.e.– the time when difficulties with Vata are most likely to arise).

Ayurveda speaks of the benefit of eating dinner perhaps in a more social way, with family and friends (it can be nice to have this camaraderie, and to look forward to a dinner with close ones, in the evening) — but Lunch, Ayurveda recommends for Vata (and also for other doshas, particularly Pitta), should be taken as peacefully and quietly as possible — even alone, and in silence, if this might be most comfortable for the individual.

Ayurveda recommends this as a good strategy for avoiding that whole constellation of Vata imbalances — issues with Blood sugar and with IBS/constipation.

Issues which Ayurveda sees as not merely physiological, but as informed by the major psycho-spiritual issues facing Vata, those of Uncertainty and Anxiety.

Eat peacefully; and avoid excess stress, Vata friends! 🙂

Scheduling and Ayurveda — Difficulties of the Vata Dosha

I have difficulties with scheduling.

Those who know me well – or even those who know me a little – will likely not be surprised at this point.

I nearly always show up at things at the last minute, despite my best efforts – or even a minute or two after the last minute.

I almost always find myself rushing.

But I want to talk about another aspect of scheduling, and speak about these vis-a-vis the Indian Medical system of Ayurveda.

doshas and elements small

My predominant Dosha in Ayurveda is characterized as Vata (of the three doshas, Vata, Pitta, Kapha; the dominant elements of these doshas are Wind, Fire, and Earth/Water, respectively);  And Ayurvedic tradition specifically picks out Vata dosha as having difficulties with adhering to schedules.

Vata is the dosha or quality regulating movement, creativity, and change-ability. Its movement is highly unpredictable, like leaves blowing in a windstorm.

Because of this innate quality of movement, Vata generally does not like adhering to a fixed rubric of time or activities.

This can become problematic for Vata. Vata can begin to move around so much, and try to cram in so many things into a day – and sometimes in the stress or anxiety that is created by not having a schedule to fall back on, Vata will end up getting less things done, or get more things done but compromise its own health or mental well-being.

On the other hand, the Pitta dosha, which is of the essence and element of Fire (and secondarily, water), is highly pre-disposed to scheduling. To setting things in a fixed schedule, to boxing things off, bracketing them aside, and getting them done.

Vata is of the essence of Catabolism – of creating new things, of creativity.

Pitta, with its strong element of Fire, burns through things. It is of the essence of Metabolism, or Digestion – Breaking things down into smaller pieces, and getting them done.

Pitta also is strongly linked with the mental attribute of Rationality – Pitta will assess something rationally, and may make a decision to adhere to the schedule even if it means leaving something aside for later. This may be something that Vata may or may not have a lot of difficulty doing, depending I believe on individual personality and work ethic.

I personally find in myself a tendency to perfectionism, and wanting to get as many things done (or started!) as possible.  This sometimes leads me to focus excessively on one thing, to the detriment of other important facets of my life (for instance, when writing a paper, I would ignore things like eating, or other human beings – and inevitably drive myself into “Vata imbalance”)….

Particularly, adhering to a fixed schedule of eating, is something that is said to be very difficult for Vata. For me personally, I find this very strongly.

It tends to just feel “wrong” to me to go and eat when (a) I am not hungry yet; or (b) I have other things that I wish to get done.

An unfortunate side effect of this is that, sometimes by the time I go and eat, my blood sugar has crashed quite low, and I end up overeating, or eating in a hurried and tense manner.

Or while my blood sugar is low, and I am rushing to prepare or obtain food, I may offend people or say or do weird things….

These are very typical elements of Vata Imbalance, and things that I still struggle with.

I am making a concerted effort over the last couple of years (off and on – (in a typically Vata fashion)),  to try to adhere more closely to at least some modicum of a meals schedule.  To at least try to eat at somewhat reasonable times of the day.

This is something that Ayurveda recommends very highly for Vata – in an effort to maintain balance. And as Vata is by far the easiest and quickest dosha to throw out of balance, Ayurveda would suggest this is quite important for Vata types.

It still poses difficulties for me. I am struck and amused by my Pitta friends, who have their meals like clockwork – 9 am, 12 pm, 6 pm – and am impressed by their regularity. Makes me think also of Kant, (the very exemplar of Pure Pitta Rationality!) by whom his neighbours could set their watches on the basis of the time he passed their cottages on his daily walks.

I am curious to hear of the experiences of others. Do you have difficulty keeping a schedule? If you are familiar with Ayurvedic doshas, do you see a connection of this with your Ayurvedic type?

Do you feel better when you do things on a consistent schedule, or when you maintain an “anything-goes” mentality?

Thanks so much for reading. Peace and Love.

Sleep as a form of Meditation?

I recently read someone asking a question to the effect, “whether sleep can considered a form of meditation?”

I felt a pull to give a bit of a response, which began to expand and expand, and which I feel could be expanded indefinitely. I want to reprint a bit of my response, with more points added, for all who may also have interest in this fascinating topic. I am also interested to hear points from others.

Sleep has long been a fascinating and important topic for many of us. Sleep is quite mysterious — we spend, as is often said, nearly one-third of our hours in this incarnation, in the state of Sleep (or maybe better to say in the states (plural) of Sleep — as there are so many stages and phases of sleep). But it is something that remains a bit of an enigma. How intriguing, for our waking awareness to experience being awake, and seemingly a short time later, to re-emerge feeling refreshed….

Emerson, in Nature, listed sleep as one of the phenomena that was “thought [to be] not only unexplained but inexplicable” and thus still in need of explanation and theory (“language, sleep, madness, dreams, beasts, and sex”).

Now many [phenomena] are thought not only unexplained but inexplicable; as language, sleep, madness, dreams, beasts, sex….

Sleep as Meditation?

A few points maybe one could make in response:

There is indeed the quote by His Holiness the Dalai Lama — “Sleep is the Best Form of Meditation”

I often feel that quote is directed towards this busy world, where many of us are often sleep-deprived. I feel like HH Dalai Lama is suggesting — if you need more sleep — then get it! That is a great form of mediation for people who need the sleep!

That said — too much sleep, can be negative for spiritual practice, I feel and many others do.

This may be more of a pitfall though, for some particular people than others.


Ayurveda (the ancient Vedic (Indian) system of medicine) would say those with many “kapha” characteristics, may be more likely to sleep too much or oversleep (can look up “kapha” online, to see if you think it pertains to you)

For Kapha types particularly, Ayurveda recommends not sleeping too much, and actually in particular, being sure to rise quite early in the morning. It is recommended for everybody, actually, to try and rise before 6 AM; this means it is best to try and get to bed by around 10 or 10:30 PM or so.

For otherwise, too much sleep can lead to lethargy, dullness, and inertia — factors which are not conducive to meditation and which meditation specifically seeks to avoid.

(I want to write much, much, more in this direction soon — there is a lot you can read online about Ayurveda’s fascinating teachings on sleep).


There is also this well-known Buddhist story:

(Thanks to the blog Junkyard Paradox for the precise quote — I knew this one but had to look it up, and found it nicely reprinted there. Thank you dear friend):

Yuan once asked: Do you make efforts in your practice of the Way, Master?
Hui Hai: Yes, I do.
Yuan: How?
Hui Hai: When hungry, I eat; when tired, I sleep.
Yuan: And does everybody make the same efforts as you do, Master?
Hui Hai: Not in the same way.
Yuan: Why not?
Hui Hai: When they are eating, they think of a hundred kinds of necessities, and when they are going to sleep, they ponder over affairs of a thousand different kinds. That is how they differ from me.   From The Little Book of Buddhist Wisdom compiled by Richard and Diana St Ruth

This is very important I feel: sleep becomes practically a form of meditation, particularly if we slowly “ease” our way into sleep, doing so with mindfulness and peace.  Myself, and many many others, recommend (what may seem obvious, but so many of us do not do it regularly, in today’s “busy world”), that one unwind and have peaceful time prior to going to sleep.  Do something relaxing, read spiritual books, sit in quietness, (or even meditate), just prior to sleep — and you should find that your sleep is deeper, far more nourishing, fulfilling, and refreshing, and indeed — virtually a form of meditation in itself.

Avoid stimulating activities before sleep! Sit quietly, read from a book, preferably one of which you would not mind the content of which to merge into your subconscious (what you do or take in just before sleep, is quite likely to be imprinted more thoroughly on the subconscious mind).

Enjoy your sleep, enjoy your life. When you eat, eat. When you sleep, sleep.   🙂

How to Get More Sleep

Finally, this video on “How to get more Sleep”  (and better sleep, I might add) by Brendon Burchard, is surprisingly perceptive, simple, and full of jewels.  Following these suggestions helped this overtired empath to get more and better sleep on a more consistent basis  (video below).  Thanks for the great content Brendon!