When a person has trouble concentrating, focusing or keeping the mind still, it is considered a problem of “Vata” (the air element), within the body. Vata is the physiological mechanism responsible for the conduction/induction of movement, perception, and consciousness itself (The nervous system functions) , this obviously includes the mental faculty. The functions of the air element are compared to that of the nervous system, yet i prefer to look at the nervous system as the vehicle via which the air element carries out its functions. This energy can become overactive by several factors. The mind itself has the ability to cause this element to become aggravated, for example: When a person feels fear, they sometimes develop gas, instantly urinate or get an upset tummy. This is caused by over-stimulation of the vagus nerve.
In my opinion, things like this can become involuntarily habitual (Much like hypertension caused by stress) which in turn can result in a constant issue with excessive-activity of the mind, as it is in Anxiety . This is one of the reasons why counselling plays such a huge role in aiding recovery.
How to Manage it:
According to Ayurvedic Medicine, we firstly give proper nourishment to the mental faculty/brain. The brain along with the rest of the nervous system is made up of lipid-like material and must be nourished by similar substances. Even in Ayurveda, the brain is called “Majja” which has a “Fatty nature”. Foods rich in healthy fats as well as some saturated fats can aid in this. After nourishing the mental faculty, we must reduce the excessive air element in the body by using carminatives. Finally, the mind must be tamed with the use of breathing exercises which help develop a stronger hold on the mind in order to control the thoughts.
1. A simple formula for this is to consume one glass of warm whole cream milk with a tablespoon of honey, half a teaspoon of ghee and a handful of almonds. This can be used as a meal replacement due to its heavy nature. Taking this first thing in the morning can be very beneficial. It is usually recommended to be taken twice a day.
2. Nasal Instillation (See my article here) has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine for thousands of years for treating problems related to the mind and central nervous system. Using substances like Sesame seed oil (Black sesame seed oil), or ghee for this procedure is effective. Other oils and ghee preparations which are medicated with medicinal herbs are much more effective but should be advised by and used under the supervision of an Ayurvedic doctor.
3. Carminatives aid in reducing the excessive air from the body. Most people believe that it simply reduces flatulence and gas, however, it has been seen clinically to have a beneficial effect in most troubles related to “Vata”. Also, the large intestine is considered to be the area which houses the air element. Research has shown that rectal administration of medicines can be quite effective in reaching the central nervous system. Consuming a tea made of fennel, ginger, and cardamom, with a little rock candy can be beneficial. ALSO, chamomile tea is quite effective with both its carminative action as well as its ability to calm the mind.
4. Yogic breathing exercises have been used for centuries in yogic science for controlling the mind. Alternative nostril breathing aka “Anulom Vilom Pranayam” can be used. There are many videos on youtube giving you the intructions for this, however i strongly advise that you learn this under the supervision of a well experienced traditional yoga practitioner. I will be putting up a video soon of this breathing exercise with the proper instructions.
5. Head massage with oil. Using oils like sesame, coconut or almond can be very beneficial. Make sure the oil is warm. Massage and allow the oil to stay in the hair over night. The oil can also be used in a procedure known as “Shiro-dhara”. It involves pouring the oil over the head from a certain elevation and in a specific manner. This procedure is VERY effective in calming the mind and reducing the excessive “Rajas” (previously discussed).
Ofcourse, the most effective thing for naturally treating diseases, are medicinal herbs. I strongly recommend using these more so than the remedies mentioned above. Contact an Ayurvedic specialist and have them get you on the proper herbs that are conducive to your body type. If you wish to have a consultation with me, click here.
Here are a few herbs that calm the mind and nourish the brain.
1.Mucuna Pruriens is a good herb for nourishing the brain as is has anabolic properties and contains l-Dopa.
2.Withania Somnifera is commonly used in Neurological conditions, i mentioned it in an article about neuro-degenerative disorders (See here). It has a calming effect and slows down the excessive wandering and movement of the mind.
3.Sida Cordifolia is very well known for its “Anti-vata” abilities. It is used for restoring proper functioning in the body and restores homeostasis.
Commonly used rejuvenatives for the mental faculty:
The herbs mentioned above are used for restoring proper functioning of the mental faculty, as well as improving memory, concentration, perception, sleep, wakefulness, and consciousness.
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
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By Dr. Nishal R.
Copyright © 2015
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