Ayurvedic Rituals to Cope with Stress from Mira Manek
This month sees the launch of author, cook, Ayurveda and yoga enthusiast Mira Manek’s new book Prajna: Ayurvedic Rituals for Happiness. We’re thrilled that Mira is going to be hosting an evening with us at Gazelli House London on Thursday 26 September to celebrate the launch. On the evening you’ll be treated to a sound bath by our Reiki master Jasmin Harsono and a short meditation led by Mira before she shares some of her favourite insights and rituals from the book. You’ll also be gifted a copy of the book so you can take the rituals and recipes home with you.
Mira grew up in a large, traditional Indian family with Gujarati as her first language. Having travelled extensively through India, she now calls London home. Mira’s first book, Saffron Soul, is a collection of vegetarian Indian recipes inspired by her Gujarati heritage. She also runs Chai by Mira, a café and chai lounge in Soho, holds workshops and retreats in London and globally and has collaborated with numerous restaurants.
“Ayurveda, a Sanskrit word meaning the knowledge, science or scripture of life, is the basis of traditional holistic medicine in India,” explains Mira. “The teachings of this scripture are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. At the heart of Ayurveda is balance and living in tune with nature.” Prajna is a Sanskrit word meaning ultimate wisdom. “The concept of prajna, rather like in Zen philosophy, is the ability to be spontaneous and to respond with playfulness to life’s events as they pop up with a surprise like hiccoughs. It doesn’t mean sitting silent and becoming numb to life; rather, it is having all those emotional human responses but with a sense of inner jest, being in it yet simultaneously being the observer, a secret play with the self,” says Mira. Below we are pleased to share an extract from Prajna with you. It has Mira’s inspiring insights, drawn from Ayurveda and other cultures, on how to make time to walk and be in nature and how to get the most from the experience.
Extract from Prajna by Mira Manek
Making time for a walk
Try to go for a brisk walk at lunchtime – it’s a great way to refresh your mind, reboot your day, boost your circulation and increase the oxygen supply to all your cells, including your brain, giving you a burst of energy and focus. If you take a packed lunch or buy your lunch in a café, you could walk to a park to eat it if there’s one nearby, or you could walk before or after you eat. Even a quick few minutes of being in nature can relax and destress the body and the mind. Natural sunlight also stimulates the brain and can up your vitamin D levels.
Getting out into nature
Spending time in nature, walking on the earth, breathing fresh air, inhaling the scent and sight of the majestic trees, noticing the movement of branches and the sunlight play through the leaves, hearing their rustling, becoming immersed in that wonderful smell of the earth, the lingering sweet, damp aroma after it has rained, as though the rain has literally extracted the scent from the ground and left it hanging in the air. It is entirely rejuvenating and refreshing. There are lots of words to describe that feeling, the instinctive sense of relief when we’re surrounded by blossoming trees, the internal sigh, the instant freedom and vastness of mind. Perhaps this feeling is akin to qualia, the individual consciousness and qualities of an experience. The Japanese have a word for that feeling of mystery and awe, that feeling too deep for words: yugen. I wonder if the Sanskrit word shunyata is similar to this, experiencing the vastness of nothingness and the clarity that lies therein, or the concept of mushin in Zen Buddhism, meaning mindlessness, which is being free of the mind and thoughts and entirely present. Both Shinto and Buddhism, Japan’s official religions, believe in the power of the forest as the realm of the divine. The Japanese also have a word for this experience of walking in the forest, hearing the birds sing, feeling the wind brush the skin, smelling the flowers, observing the leaves, the change in colour – it is called forest-bathing or shinrin-yoku. This is simply being in nature, connecting through our senses, observing and absorbing everything around us, revelling in its beauty, and thus ‘bathing’ in it. Being immersed in nature, opening our senses and being in harmony with the natural world can help us heal and make us happy. According to Ayurveda, we have come from this earth, we are not born onto it, and therefore being in nature brings us home and connects us with our own true selves. Shinrin-yoku has been shown to lower the concentration of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as lower our pulse rate and blood pressure. Even if you live in a city you can get similar benefits by walking through a nearby park or an area of woodlands. You could explore different parks or choose an alternative walk to work that involves some form of nature, just to give you that sense of upliftment each day.
You can find more on bringing more joy to your life in Prajna alongside lots of beautiful recipes and rituals. Our team here at Gazelli House can’t wait for the evening with Mira on 26 September – you can find out more and book your ticket here. You’ll also be able to order one of a very limited number of signed copies of Prajna soon - email us at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll let you know as soon as the signed copies are in stock.