The ultimate question in life is, “Who am I?” Without going in too deeply, it is better to ask ourselves, “What am I not?” You see, we tend to construct quite an elaborate story of who we are in life. I am a mother, a sister, a lawyer, a yogi, a wife. As beautiful as these constructs are, they are but a mask for the true nature of the self underneath. 

How we create an armour of identity

Sometimes, the constructs that we hold up about ourselves do not serve us in a positive way. Without realising it we might hide behind these stories and identities, a bit like a suit of armour shielding us from the world. But with the help of Ayurveda we can slowly start to drop this armour of identity and reveal our true potential. 

How can Ayurveda help? 

With Ayurveda, the first step is to reflect on and become aware of our personal armour suits. It is only by recognising our masks that we can rid ourselves from them in order that our true nature can be revealed. I say this because I believe that this is the beautiful consequence of Āyurveda: the recognition that every soul is unique and has a worthy place to be here. Unless we realise this, we cannot pursue a path of truth, joy and happiness. 

What are mental toxins? 

According to Ayurveda, toxins build up in our body which contribute to disease and imbalance. They are termed ama and they exist not just in a physical form but also mental. Physical ama builds up in the body from incomplete digestion, whereas mental ama accumulates from unprocessed emotions and thoughts. The result of too much ama in the system is physical illness and lack of clarity and focus. 

My own experience 

It wasn’t until I was on a recent trip to India for some detoxification that I realised the uncanny similarities in the words ama and armour. You see, I didn’t just go to get a physical cleanse – I was aware of my armour and I knew I had to let it go in order to be in my present. 

The result of the treatment was just that. I found that I had these layers of armour and ama that were hiding the true version of myself. 

We can begin to normalise this toxic state of being without realising it and go years without ever knowing how great we really are. In the process of detoxifying my ama, I learnt to not only become aware of what was hiding my true nature, but also see how toxic it was to my overall health and wellbeing. I had to let go of insecurity, fear, shame, guilt and identities in my time of Ayurvedic treatment. What it revealed was truth, love, compassion and strength. And I thought to myself, why am I not leading my life with these thoughts instead of my old armour?

Sometimes it’s worth being cruel to be kind

This process takes us into the notion of self love, self worth and self realisation. And so, I wanted to write about this so that you too can have a think about your armour and ama. Anything that requires digestion can be transformed into growth. We can digest our ama with the help of awareness through spiritual practice and Ayurvedic treatment. Taking that first step isn’t easy, but it will certainly lighten the load in the long run. 

My top 5 tips on preventing the build-up of mental ama

  1. Include a daily meditation practice
  2. Japa meditation helps to cleanse the mind of wrong thoughts 
  3. Write a journal in the morning and/or evening
  4. When faced with difficulty, try to simply sit with it until it passes and not distract yourself
  5. Feed yourself good food for your mind – uplifting talks, walks in nature and heart-opening conversations

The benefits of working through your mental ama is a mind of clarity that remains open to possibility rather than placing judgement on everything. Being aware of the ama is the first step, then we can take the next step in working towards releasing it. But whatever you do, don’t delay your search for the truth of who you are because the world needs to see it. Underneath our thoughts, emotions and identities is a place of stillness, love and joy – which is what the world needs most right now.