Feeling a stressed out by the current news cycle? Maybe you feel totally overwhelmed and you don’t know what to do. Or you are full of rage and have nowhere to direct it safely. You might just feel deeply depressed and just want to crawl back into bed, waiting there with the sheets pulled over your head until it feels safe to come out.
I hear you.
I feel all of these things distinctly, depending on the day.
I want to offer a little perspective from Ayurveda to help you sift through the heaviness, the frustration, the fear, and the anger so you can take action in meaningful ways that work best for you.
If you’re less familiar with Ayurveda, there are 3 doshas that you can use as a lens to filter your awareness of yourself and the world you live in.
The doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each dosha is composed of a distinct combination of the 5 primary elements: Air, Space, Water, Fire, and Earth.
Vata is composed of Air and Space.
Pitta is composed of Fire and Water.
Kapha is composed of Water and Earth.
(To find out more about the doshas, click here)
These doshas come into play in the cycles of the year, the cycles of the day, and the cycles of our lives. They exist within the world as a way to understand how things work, as well as how we, as human beings, work within the world, with one another, and with ourselves.
Each person has a unique combination of the elements within them, so a unique doshic make-up.
This can impact how we respond to life experiences, particularly stressful ones.
Someone who is more influenced by Vata might respond to stress with anxiety, overwhelm, and fear.
A person who is more influenced by Pitta might respond to stress with rage, hostility, or defensiveness.
Someone who is more Kapha might respond to stress with deep sadness or depression.
There is nothing wrong with any of these responses. They are completely normal and valid.
The question becomes, how can you use your dosha to not get stuck in that automatic default response creating inaction and instead use your doshic make-up to take action.
Here’s my Ayurvedic Guide to Activism
How to understand how the doshas respond to stressful events and how to understand that response to create action instead of inaction.
Here’s what Vata tends to do during a stressful experience, whether on a personal or national scale:
Vata panics a little and feels massive anxiety. She feels like there is nothing she can do. Her hands are tied. She feels hugely overwhelmed by the vastness of the problem. So instead of acting, she allows herself to be distracted. She takes on extra projects, constantly checks social media, and generally keeps herself as busy as she can so she can avoid dealing directly with the crisis.
Here’s what Vata can do to create action:
Vata is composed or air and ether. She is an idea person. Creative and connected. She can gather friends together to talk, process, and heal. Vata can organize rallies and vigils in support of a cause. She can create fundraisers to benefit organizations that need it. On a smaller scale, she might create art for events, postcards, or write letters that others can use as a template to contact their own representatives in congress.
She can also use social media as a tool, not to distract but to organize. This is not like being an armchair activist—all talk and no action. Instead, she can get people more connected, involved, and active. So whether it’s creating facebook groups where people can share, heal, process, engage, and act or whether it’s sharing events, inviting people to participate, or sharing ideas and asking people to engage, big groups are where Vata thrives.
Here’s what Pitta tends to do during stressful experiences, whether personal or on a larger scale:
Pitta gets reactive, defensive, and angry. She’ll rage, yell, and pick fights, even with people she loves. She will become directly combative. She won’t always listen to other points of view or perspectives. She’ll just simmer with fury, exploding when she hits boiling point. Sometimes her rage will inspire others and sometimes it will push people away. She spends so much time being angry at the world, that she often mistakes her anger for actual action.
Here’s what Pitta can do to create action:
Pitta is someone who can, with the right approach, create massive change. Her fire can light others up to inspire their own action. She can go to rallies, marches, and demonstrations. Pitta can schedule an appointment with her representative in congress or call their office. She can write letters and send emails.
Pitta can also channel her rage into actions that challenge the status quo – not in an illegal way, but in ways that change the things she is most upset about. She can LIVE what she believes and be an example of what it looks like to create change in the world through actual actions.
What works really well for Pitta is creating a schedule, so if she can put a few simple actions on her schedule everyday—at the same time everyday, because Pitta is a creature of habit and functions best with consistency and routine, she can get a lot done. She is motivated and a force of power when she uses her fire as a source of empowerment, rather than antagonism.
Here’s what Kapha tends to do during a stressful experience, whether on a personal or national scale:
Kapha retreats into herself. She feels so helpless that she physically can’t act. Everything feels heavy – her body, her emotions, her spirit. All she wants to do is get into bed, pull the covers over her head, and sleep. Which she does. She looks for anything and everything that can help her escape and give her comfort. This creates physical inaction, as well as stagnation emotionally. She feels as though there is literally nothing she can do but sit in the dark. She feels like nothing she does will make a difference.
Here’s what Kapha needs to do in order to act:
Kapha does best with small and simple actions. So this might be starting by journaling to uncover the source of the sadness, talking to a friend, or to a professional.
Kapha might not feel comfortable calling senators or representatives or meeting them in person, but she can write letters and send emails. She might not feel comfortable going to rallies or marches or going door-to-door for a candidate, but she can donate to causes that matter to her. And if she can’t afford to donate much, she can organize fundraisers and benefits in support of those causes.
Kapha might also feel more comfortable volunteering at smaller, local organizations. Stuffing envelopes or organizing materials might more up her alley. She’d rather stay a bit on the sidelines in support than be directly in the action.
Kapha has a big heart and wants to take action, but often lacks the motivation. People who filter more through kapha also work better one-on-one, rather than in big groups. She often needs a buddy to help motivate her into action. So getting a friend to join in will help increase her accountability and likelihood for follow through.
These are just a few ways that Vata, Pitta, and Kapha can inspire action rather than sink into inaction.
Hopefully this Ayurvedic Guide to Activism gives you some food for thought for your own activism and some ideas for you can take stronger, more clear actions based on the filter of the doshas you are moving through.
Learn more about the doshas and find out what your dominant dosha is by taking my Dosha Quiz here. Not only will you learn more about your dosha, but you’ll also learn what your “Self-Care Style” is and some simple ways to take care of yourself using this Ayurvedic wisdom.
Take the quiz here.