Saludos from Pisac, Peru!
If you have been following me, you have probably noticed that I write and teach about daily rhythm and healthy habits through Ayurveda. Over the past several years, I have been on a personal mission to up-level my own and my family’s daily rhythm. As many of you know, my family spends time each year in a rural area in the Peruvian Andes. Here people’s lives continue to be interwoven with their majestic landscape and the agrarian calendar. In many ways, it has been here in the Andes where I have learned the most about rhythm and have been most successful at aligning my body and life to the rhythms of nature, which is at the heart of the practices and teachings of Ayurveda. Of course, Ayurveda comes from India, but anyone who has traveled to a region of the world where traditional cultures are still intact will find that traditional cultures naturally sync up with nature. That is how we evolved. Humans evolved with and within the cycles and rhythms of nature.
In this blog post, I want to share the key lessons I’ve learned about daily rhythm from the people of the Andes:
In this blog, I'd like to share a lovely practice that I've learned in the Peruvian Andes to connect specifically to the energy of the Mother Earth, called Pachamama in the Andean world. Increasingly and around the globe, we are becoming a headier and headier species. It seems sometimes that we fully forget that our feet are on the ground. While I am a lover and user of technology to connect with people and to spread ideas, and I acknowledge that you are using technology to read this blog post, I am also very aware that I need lots of time with my feet on the ground, with my hands in the dirt, and I believe that many of our modern ailments could be healed and eradicated if only more humans spent time outside.
As I write this, I am in Peru, in a rural landscape, surrounded by majestic mountains, apus, and with views of corn fields, potato fields and quinoa fields. It is an inspiring and nourishing place. Being down here has taught me a lot about how humans can interact and connect to their natural environment. Here the landscape is considered animate and sacred and everyday people venerate Mother Nature. People here are still connected to an agrarian calendar with times for planting, harvesting, and fertilizing the land. They know where their food comes from and are actively engaged in the food system.
I’ll give you an idea of what this is like: Recently I spent the day with a Quechua family from a highland community. They live at about 13,000 feet. They live in simple but beautiful, traditional adobe homes, made of the earth, and painted with beautiful designs in clay paints. Their cooking stove is earthen and they cook and heat with wood. This family grows and harvests corn, potatoes, barley, wheat and quinoa. They also have a bountiful garden with herbs, greens, and flowers. They have animals: alpacas, sheep, cows and guinea pigs. They spin and dye their own wool and the women make incredibly beautiful weavings. They make their own medicines with the native plants of the environment. Their life is simple but very rich. Each time I spend time with families like this, I feel uplifted and inspired to create a stronger connection to the earth.
Wherever you are, reading this blog, I want to encourage you to develop a relationship with your landscape and ecosystem. I wish for you to create a stronger connection to your food source. Begin by paying attention to your environment. Is there a landmass, a mountain or hill, or even a rock that you particularly enjoy having in your environment? Or perhaps you have a garden, a forest or even a sweet grassy patch close by. I encourage you to get friendly with the earth in your backyard and neighborhood this week. As well, pay attention to the plants that grow in your environment. Think about where your food comes from. Grow a garden. Get to know your wild edibles in your landscape. Visit your farmer’s market. Eat a more local and seasonal diet. All of these are ways that we can deepen our connection to Mother Earth.
Make time for taking walks or hikes in nature and simply sitting outside.. It seems obvious enough, but now we have studies to prove it as well: nature is healing! Being in nature improves mental clarity, reduced inflammation, reduces stress, restores mental energy, improves vision, boosts the immune system, may reduce likelihood of cancer, is linked to longevity and improves your mood!
We all already know this! So, this week, step away from your desk, get out of your car, and get yourself outside. Here are some ideas:
Meditation Practice: Touching Earth
Here is a beautiful and simple meditation to connect with the earth that is inspired from the Andean Tradition. This meditation is for bringing the different aspects and parts of your being into harmony with the energy of Mother Earth. Mother Earth goes by many names in many cultures. In the Indian culture, she may be called Bhumi or Prithvi. In the Andean tradition, this energy is known as Pachamama. The Pachamama is considered the conscious entity that is our mother who supports and nurtures all life on this planet. She is venerated and revered daily in simple and elaborate ways by the Andean people.
This meditation is a variation of a practice that Oakley Gordon describes in his book, the Andean Cosmovision. This is a tool for grounding and coming back to yourself. Often in modern life, we get caught up in our heads thinking, rather than experiencing. This takes our energy upward, where it either concentrates and becomes uncomfortably heated or overly focused or else it dissipates, which can leave us literally feeling ungrounded.
This practice, is meant to help you ground and come back to a feeling of integration. When we are in contact with the Earth, with the Pachamama, we feel support and can better navigate whatever is going on in our life.
Begin this practice sitting on the ground. You can do this practice anywhere, but the effect might be more potent if you do it outside and sit on the earth.
Take a few moments and notice your energy, physically, mentally, emotionally , spiritually.
Now, put your hands on the earth and with intent, connect the energy of your body-mind to the energy of the Pachamama. Make a sincere request/intention to bring her energy into harmony with yours. Mother Earth is gracious. You are her child and she wants to nourish and support you. That is her nature.
With intent, you can consciously connect the various parts of your being one at a time with the Mother Earth, Pachamama. Connect your physical body, especially the lower half of your body, grounding and pressing your physical foundation into the support of the earth. Notice if anything shifts.
Next, connect your emotional body. Let the area of your heart connect up to the earth. Just allow your emotions to drop downward and ground. Notice any sensations.
Finally, let your mental body, the energy of your head, and mind, connect to the earth. Notice how that feels. Now, take a moment and just be. Consciously connecting and experiencing the energy of the earth harmonizing with your energy. Feel yourself to be connected and part of the bigger energy that includes you and the Earth.
Stay here as long as you like.
When you are finished, consciously and sincerely offer gratitude for Mother Earth, Pachamama. Thank her for supporting you.
Consider spending a few minutes in Savasana.
Educator, certified health coach, educator and yoga instructor.