All hail the post-holiday weekends, the perfect time for self-renewal
When the the holiday hustle is all over, and its wear and tear sets in, it can feel as though there wasn't enough time or space to get any decent R&R. The "at home staycation" is a great way to carve out time for a little care, with a focus on repose and relaxation. With social obligations having been met over December, and the frigid temperatures of January, what better weekends to claim for yourself.
From a holistic perspective, self-care is an important way to keep your mind, body, and emotions revitalized and balanced. It's also a method to maintain consistent health by rejuvenating the senses.
Our senses affect how we feel, function and think. Everything that we see, touch, taste, smell and hear becomes the basis for our direct perception and interaction with the world. Our senses are an extension of our mind; they are like tentacles that provide the mind with information about our environment. The experiences that we face create physical, mental and emotional impressions, impacting how we perceive the world and the relationships around us. If our senses are not functioning optimally, our perception, our memories and the quality of our life experiences can be directly impacted.
As we age, the senses begin to degenerate, resulting in reduced sight, hearing loss, decreased appetite, tingling and numbness, or a diminished sense of smell. The Ayurvedic perspective is that sensory care and healing through the senses, known as tanmatra chikitsa, can help to prolong a healthy state of the senses and by default, sustain mental clarity, enhance immunity and keep the emotions healthy and inspired.
So dim the lights and kindle some candles (sight), drop a cozy aroma into your essential oil diffuser (smell), sip a warm invigorating tea (taste), tune into some soothing music (sound) and give your body a bit of self-pampering (touch).
Mind: Meditative Myrrh Oil
Meditative oils are sedative, calming combinations that can retreat the mind into a state of deep relaxation. To make your own meditative oil, use cold-pressed sesame oil as the base. Sesame oil contains an antioxidant known as sesamol that prevents the appearances of wrinkles and small pores in the skin. It is also a heavy, warming oil that helps to integrate the senses.
For this recipe, we will use an uplifting Myrrh infusion. Myrrh is a warm scent that activates the hypothalamus and amygdala to reduce emotional stress, promote mental clarity and foster tranquillity. Its antioxidant properties make it an excellent anti-aging rejuvenator with anti-inflammatory properties.
2 cups of sesame oil
3 tablespoons of myrrh powder
16oz glass bottle
Mix the cold-pressed sesame oil with the myrrh powder with a spoon. Once it is thoroughly combined, empty the oil into a sterilized glass jar. Place the sealed jar into a cool dark room, shaking the jar every couple of days. Let sit for about 25 days. Strain the fragrant oil and use topically on the temples, neck, forehead and joints if needed.
Body: Spiced Rose & Cardamom Almond Milk Bath
This luxurious combination is nourishing, rejuvenating and relaxing. The scent of the rose has been used to elevate the emotions, and offer spiritual healing for centuries. Cardamom is warming and stimulating and has also been used to conjure emotions of pleasure. From the Ayurvedic lense, nourishing almond milk hydrates the body and builds vitality or ojas. Raw sugar is a natural humectant that draws moisture to the skin, keeping the body supple and toned.
2 ½ tablespoons of dried rose petals
20 drops of cardamom essential oil
1 cup powdered almond milk
2 tablespoons raw sugar
In a bowl, combine the dried rose petals, raw sugar and essential oil. Mix until distributed evenly.
Add the powdered almond milk and stir to distribute evenly.
Transfer the mixture into a sterilized container for storage.
Use 1/2 cup — 1 cup per bath.
Eyes: Natural Rose Water Mist
Natural rose water is cooling, rejuvenating, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Rose water tightens the pores, eradicates excess oil and refreshes your skin. Rose water also contains Vitamin E, which is often used to prevent wrinkles. After a long day of looking at the computer, natural rose water can be a quick remedy to soothe the eyes.
Spray two eye cotton pads with natural rose water. Lie down, close the eyes and place the cotton pads over the eyelids. Relax for about 5 minutes. For a refresher during the day or post-workout, mist the rosewater over your face and body to cool down and lighten-up.
To make your own rose water:
Remove and wash the petals of three fresh Damask roses. Place the petals in a pot and gently cover the petals with distilled water. The water should just barely cover the petals. Place the lid on the pot.
Bring the water to a gentle simmer but do not boil.
After about 25 minutes, the water will be infused with the colour and scent of the rose petals.
Take down the pot and allow the rose water to cool.
Strain the petals and pour the cool rose water into a sterilized, glass bottle.
Refrigerate. Store in smaller mist spray bottles if preferred.
Natural rose water can be purchased at any specialty health food stores or natural grocery store. Middle Eastern food stores will also carry a good quality rosewater. If you choose to purchase the rose water, check the label to ensure that it is 100% natural and does not contain any alcohol or preservatives. Alcohol can irritate the skin and eyes.
Nose and ears: Warm Sesame Oil
Apply a dab of warm sesame oil to the inner ears, and the insides of the nostrils. This acts as a barrier to the cold and can help to trap bacteria that can otherwise enter the body. Plus, the oil has a heavy quality which can be used to bring cohesion to fragmented senses that are constantly in use.
Mouth: Cold-Pressed Sesame Swishing
For sensory care of the mouth, on an empty stomach, gargle with a tablespoon of sesame oil. Sesame oil is heating, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and is also an antioxidant. Simply swish the oil around the mouth for about a minute and then dispel it into the toilet. The oil coats mouth, helps to keep bacteria and bay and supports oral hydration. Note, this practice is for sensory care only and is not considered to be oil pulling.