Welcome to midsummer. The hottest time of the year. Here, in the beginning of August, we are in the thick of it. The sun is bright. The ground sizzles, as do our skins when we sit too long without spraying ourselves with sunscreen or gulping beverages out of coconuts. We find relief in sprinklers, and notice the peace we feel while we are gazing at the beach’s gentle rolling waves. Hot peppers grow and bean plants intertwine fences. Lush and steamy is the air as we taste the salt on our ever perspiring lips. We long for the fresh breeze of fall, and anything to remind us of the changeability of the seasons, the atmosphere, and our very bodies as we mentally, and physically digest the first half of the year to clear the path for the second half.
Nature has an energetic force. We observe it all around us at any given moment. These forces thrive and spiral in the microcosm of the human body. We react to these energies and harmonize with them. The practice of this is known as Ayurveda, one of the earliest holistic healing systems. It is a belief that everything is connected, and when it is in balance, we are healthy. When it is disrupted, such as when we are injured, or eat poorly, or when there are shifts in the environment, we can feel less than optimal.
In Ayurveda, overall health is determined by the mind, body and spirit being in harmony with the universe itself, and believe that every person is made of the five basic elements found in creation, such as earth, air, fire, water, and ether (or space). These elements combine in the body to form the three doshas, or forces of energy, named vata, pitta, and kapha. Each one is composed predominantly of two main elements. Vata is made up of mobile air and expansive ether. Kapha is made up of dense earth and viscous water, while the metamorphic nature of fire and the unsettledness of water make up Pitta. Each season has its dominant dosha. So do each of us.
Sit in silence for a few minutes and notice the energies around you, and you may resonate with the overwhelming Pitta in your environment, depending on where you are in the world right now. Take note of how you feel this summer, those of us in the northern hemisphere, and notice what you have been busying your time with. Do you notice that the idea of taking a nap seems to be more inviting? Are you craving the kiwi and watermelon, and other refreshing respites from the heat? Do you find yourself mentally going over the events of the year that has passed so far, chewing on it, digesting it, flexing the mind to focus on the intention of the sound judgement you must exhibit to prepare for the second half of this cycle around the sun?
If so, it is because we are in the Pitta season, the time of where the two elements of fire and water reign supreme over our constitution. It is the season where we feel as if the world, and even ourselves, are on fire! According to the principles of Ayurveda, the Pitta translates to “warmth” or “transformation,” or “that which digests.” Put plainly, it forms the necessary bile and fluid to flush and burn away impurities. Unctuous is another word that floats around the Ayurveda community, and we’ll think of it as moist—the energies needed to digest, well, anything. It is the energy that governs the metabolism, and reforms anything and everything that enters the body. It is the energy of assimilation. It is said that when a person is born, their Pitta is in total equilibrium with vata and kapha.
Each of us has a dominant dosha, although we all have all three spiraling in us at once. There are many quizzes all over the internet to determine which dosha is dominant in your body. Yoga is a wonderful practice to get in touch and observe whatever constitution is affecting you at any given time. It is both a physical exercise and a chance to check in with yourself mentally and spiritually, in moving meditation. Many asanas(poses) are beneficial to each dosha. It is the way we practice that can aggravate or pacify any extremes of energy moving throughout the body. The object of balancing the pitta dosha while doing anything is tohave fun while doing it, soften your gaze, and allow freedom and creativity to flow in everything you do.
The attributes of the Pitta dosha are hot and liquid. Think of steam as a drop of water hits scorching asphalt. It is moist, and sharp, citrusy, sour, oily—all the qualities of summer. Imagine. The gentle hum of the fan wakes you in the morning. Your body is lethargic. You begin to move, and the sloth-y slink out of bed gives way to dragging feet across the floor, craving that morning iced coffee or tea to cool you off. You are brave, and ready to take on the day with intelligence, laughing and singing all the way through it. When we are aggravated or irritable, wracked with the discomfort of the season that rages inside, slow down. Walk in nature. Meditate. Practice yoga or work out at eighty percent instead of one-hundred-twenty percent. Flow softly, and observe, for our ability to sense what is going on in the body is governed by Pitta. Our focus is on the exhale, the releasing of any pent up energy, and give yourself space. You deserve it.
The sun-beam of sentience and understanding that pitta exemplifies is the result of these fire and water energies transforming and gliding through us, within and without, cerebrally, emotionally, energetically, and tangibly. It reminds us that less is more, and it is always enough.
For now, until the leaves begin to fall from the trees, we are in Pitta season. For some of us, it is their favorite time of year while others are counting down the days until we can sing holiday songs and bundle next to a cozy fire. All of the energies in all seasons in each part of the world, defines our own Ayurvedic disposition, our overall design for health. They each have their unique ratios in our bodies. What we experience is also inside us. We are truly the stream in the rolling river, our bodies a tiny universe within the larger infinite space. And by seeing the elements dance and bubble inside us and in the environment around us, through all walks of life, we come to understand, observe, and appreciate the creation, and the forces within it.
We may feel exposed or susceptible to these energetic powers, but we are also aware of them, and our vulnerabilities can be a source of our strength as we navigate the malleable dynamisms around us. Once we connect with these energies, we can make choices that matter, ones that help support our natural inclinations and soothe our irritabilities, or any extremes we may be facing. Whether we relate to the cheetah or the bear, the bird or the bug, we can begin to recognize how the doshas affect our lives, and our environment. So the next time you are caught in the wind and rain, or hike towards the sputtering volcano, or sleep by the calmness of a lake, know that you are, in some way, symbiotic with everything around you. Stay cool out there.