As Oscar Wilde once said, “the heart was made to be broken.” There are many steps and ways to mend a broken heart. You can start by recognizing the pain and angst, and then consciously make the decision to move forward, knowing time heals everything.
This article has a focus on Ayurvedic medicine which includes meditation and healing methods that have been used in India for thousands of years. This holistic healing system is focused on balancing the mind, body, and spirit, with the goal of achieving and maintaining health and wellness. It involves modifying diet and lifestyle. Through a simple understanding and commitment to practicing these changes, you can become physically and psychologically stronger.
During a breakup, you are weak, both emotionally and spiritually, which in turn takes a toll on your body and mind. Naturally, we turn to topics of meditation and spiritual practice, searching for answers. Alongside other recommendations that Heartbreak Triage offers, we hope this list of ancient natural remedies may provide you with some alternative healing methods.
The first step is taking the Dosha quiz to determine your ‘biological setup,’ or body constitution. Ayurveda classifies bodies (and consequently mind and spirit) into three types:
- Pitta (fire): represents transformation and digestion
- Vata (wind): represents movement and communication
- Kapha (water): represents cohesiveness, structure, and lubrication
From there, you will have a general idea of how these characteristics describe you and have been shaping your behavior throughout your life. People classified as Pitta tend to be fiery, confident, aggressive, determined, but when unbalanced, they can easily become angry and imposing. Kaphas are kind and calm but can become lethargic, dull and heavy. Vata-dominant people are creative, dynamic and active, but when unstable will be stressed, indecisive and dispersed. During a breakup, your doshas are out of balance, and informing yourself of this fact is the first step to finding a healing solution. You might have tendencies that push you in the wrong direction, and especially during this period of healing, you have to readjust this. More than ever, you need to find what brings you down and what brings you up, and work through small behavioral changes that will make you your better self.
For example, a fiery person should avoid hot climates and spicy food, instead seeking cooling beverages and food, as well as colder temperature environments. Kapha is sluggish, so he or she must seek stimulating warm food and places. The overactivity of Vata needs to be discouraged with meals that are soothing and pacifying. So, take a moment to think back on how and what you eat as it might be bringing you down, or making you nervous. By understanding your composition, and changing what you eat and what you expose yourself to, you can revive and heal your spirit and mind. A balanced body will reflect a balanced heart. If you dig deeper into Ayurveda, you will find many other lifestyle imbalances that need some attention and adjustments as well.
On the same train of thought, Ayurvedic practitioners recommend meditation and yoga. These can bring perspective, helping to release emotional baggage and refreshing the mind. Ayurveda focuses on healing from the root cause. By taking the Dosha quiz and understanding the composition of your body and mind, you can identify the root of your problems, and start the recovery from this point.
It’s important to find time to love and reconnect with yourself. Engage in activities that will raise your mood; break away from apathetic and pessimistic thoughts. It is suggested you watch a comedy movie to laugh for a while, to respond to others’ expression of love if family and friends are around, and to spoil yourself. Do something special that YOU feel like doing. You have to shift depressive and sad behavior modes to positive and optimistic ones. Easier said than done. But look around and think what else could be bringing you down. Modify your nutrition, your environment, and make that change that you deserve!
Drink a cup of tea! There is nothing like treating yourself to the warm sensation, to the assortment of flavors, and to the sheer joy of ‘feeling good’ as you sip on a cup of tea. The physical pain experienced by heartbreak has to be treated from within. Certain plants have healing properties specifically intended for the cardiovascular system, and thus can also help emotional heart pains. Depression, anger, loss and loneliness can be combated in many ways. I recommend taking time to treat yourself to a nice warm tea, to relax and enjoy what nature has provided for us. Here is a list of herbs that are recommended to ‘lift the spirit’:
- Hawthorn: Strengthens the cardiovascular system, the physical organ that responds to emotional pain, with properties varying from blood pressure regulation to lowering of cholesterol levels. Think of a stronger heart, a healthier heartbeat and more powerful veins and arteries. A cup of hawthorn can be prepared from the berries, flowers or leaves on the plant. It is also available as tincture so you can add some drops to a warm cup of water, sweeten and enjoy sip by sip.
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): Useful for insomnia and can help alleviate feelings of worry, nervous tension, upset stomach, heartbreak, skin outbreaks, and other symptoms of stress. Add two teaspoons of dry lemon balm to one cup of hot water. It can be combined with rose petals to add a feeling of extra warmth and more flavour!
- Motherwort (Leonurus cardiac): A nerve soother, this herb helps the ‘racing’ mind and ‘galloping’ heart. Used for stress, tension, and emotional upset. It can be found as a tincture and added to hot water or tea (halt teaspoon per cup). However, if you are pregnant, avoid!
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Strengthener of the circulatory system. Rosemary is known to have properties such as enhancing memory, providing muscle pain relief and reducing stress. Combined with Lavender, it physiologically reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, reducing how stressed we feel. Its woody scent reminds us of getting out there, of movement, of moving on. A few teaspoons per cup of hot water will provide you energy and refreshment. It can also be mixed with rose for flavour.
- Rose petals (Rosa Centifolia): Used as a nerve calmer, for insomnia relief, and as an alleviator of mild depression. Rose petals have properties such as reducing physical and mental fatigue, reducing feelings of resentment or anger. Roses have been used to get over grief and prepare the heart for new beginnings. Add a tablespoon of rose petals to a cup of hot water and steep for five minutes, then serve with a small amount of honey. Enjoy the delicate flavour and connect with its ability to soothe the heart and its pain.
Next step: Detoxing thoughts, your body and your environment. The tips mentioned above are related to nutrition, but there are many detox routines, diets and methods found online for cleansing your physical self. Make sure they are appropriate for your body type and your current circumstances. As for your surroundings, it is important to also keep them tidy and clean. Spring cleaning, or just removing objects, and rearranging spaces within your house or apartment will help. Clearing out accumulated energies will bring a clearer mind and you will literally feel as if you can breathe more easily.
Once your body feels good, the rest will follow. A hot topic lately in wellness and health spheres is meditation. Meditation is defined as a practice or technique of focusing the mind with the goal of achieving mental clarity and emotional calmness.
Amongst the benefits:
- reduces stress
- improves concentration
- increases happiness
- increases acceptance
- slows aging
- benefits cardiovascular system
You are told that you should observe your thoughts as a river. Let them flow. Become a detached observer. This is hard because thoughts carry emotions, which naturally are hard to let go. Disconnecting is the goal and the more you practice, the more you are able to achieve this. Focusing on your breathing is an easy step to learning how to meditate. During a breakup, at times it is hard to breathe, so working with such techniques can be helpful. The idea is to develop hope, strength and energy, especially in a time when it is most needed.
One specific type of meditation is called Vipassana and it is a great way to get rid of suffering. One of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation, the Gotama Buddha taught it as the ‘universal remedy for universal ills’; it aims to remove mental impurities and help you find the greatest happiness and full liberation. Heartbreak can be faced through Vipassana just like any other life problem.
This specific meditation aims for self-observation and self-exploration, both of the body and of the mind. Vipassana courses are offered all over the world in specific locations and are usually free. You apply and if accepted, you participate for 10 days of silent meditation and commit to their code of conduct which includes abstaining from sexual activity, drinking, talking, eating after sunset, amongst other rules. It sounds extreme, but the experience can give you a chance to explore your thoughts and feelings, ultimately releasing negative emotions, and increasing awareness, self-control and peace.
Buddhism and Hinduism embrace suffering as part of life. Through Vipassana meditation and self-observation, one comes face to face with all inner and outer experiences without the intrusion of unnecessary distractions from external sources. For some it is uncomfortable or boring, and it can be stressful at the beginning; but after a few days, you come to terms with it. By accepting and embracing your suffering, you begin to realize that the pain and heartache is a part of life. Emotional pain can be controlled. By learning to breathe and meditate, you can step back and witness what is happening. This mental training teaches you to disassociate from heavy feelings and emotions that come with breakups and other difficult situations in life.
The ultimate goal of the programme and meditation is full liberation, through all stages of a breakup: from denial to anger, from bargaining to depression. Finalizing your process with acceptance, you can practice and use the different ideas and spirit cleansing techniques Heartbreak Triage recommends. Pay attention to your nutrition and your environment and change them! By helping your body become healthy, clearing out stuck feelings and getting rid of lethargy, you are surely walking towards a more peaceful self.
Ayurveda seeks Sattva, purity and balance, which can be achieved through meditation and nutrition. This state of goodness and harmony known as Sattva is the ideal accomplishment. Its opposites are probably more descriptive of what a heartbreak feels like. A rajasic mind, characterized by passion, activity and confusion, can manifest in the behavior post-breakup.
Coping skills such as staying busy and distracted, seeking drama or action to find the attachment that was lost, amongst others, can ease the discomfort. Lastly and sadly there is Tamas, representing darkness, destruction and chaos. If you are depressed and feel numb as a result of your post-breakup actions and feelings, this is considered tamasic behavior. These three Gunas, or qualities, are said to be present everywhere and in everything, only differing in their proportions.
Think about everything listed here. Take time to write down and identify what is physically, mentally and emotionally imbalanced within you (this seems obvious but try using these concepts for classification purposes). Reread what you can do to work towards balance. Take advantage of the profusion of sites and books about Ayurveda for the mind to understand how to achieve Sattva. We are not all Buddhas, but we can all find peace, especially beyond a heartbreak, by setting our intentions and desires in that direction.