The science behind SEASON RITUALS –

Ayurveda’s Ritucharya

The human brain will naturally seek patterns of recognition. This is part of the survival instinct : we need to understand what we are looking at as quickly as possible so that we can MAKE SENSE OF IT.

That part there, making sense of it, is key to the rest.

Have you ever noticed that it was far easier to remember what you learned from a documentary you chose to watch out of interest compared to any class you took in school?

Because we need to feel that it has something to do with ourselves in order to integrate information. It needs to be personal.

What does it mean to be personal? It means familiar. Familiarity is what we feel when we see a pattern. If that is a pattern we even recognise, then we are in luck. Not only will we feel safe and stable (because we are on home territory to a certain extent) but we will also learn more easily.

What this means on a biological level is that our nervous system, immune system as well as our lymphatic system will be optimised. 

On the opposite of that : when we do not recognise our environment, we feel ungrounded, unsafe and threatened by anything that moves (just look at animals’ reaction when they are in a new place and you move towards them). 

What we are really talking about here is the need of human beings to feel safe in their environment. To do so, our brains will seek to make sense of what is happening and what it sees. For that reason it will search for familiarity, patterns, logic so that it can find the accurate reaction/response in past experiences. 

This is of course why we tend to react to current events with emotions from past experiences that reminds us of the present moment. 

It will always be economically speaking much more interesting since any brand new experience will need the integration of a new behaviour and comprehension. We know just how exhausting it can be to practise something new, like a new language for instance. 

We use far more energy to do something completely new or foreign to us than just activating a pattern existing in our subconscious mind. 

We could think of routine and the habits we practise in a day for instance.

But when it comes to changing seasons, we also have quite a few routines. More so, if we look at our ancestors, at the traditions existing in our communities (beliefs, nations, etc) the different rituals that have been practised for centuries are often rites of passage from one season to the next. 

What they do is that they stabilise us. They remind us of where we are and when in time.

They make us feel safe and grounded. 

Furthermore, they help us to notice where we are at with ourselves. Because as they keep coming back from one year to the next, they give us perspective on our overall condition. 

Just like taking the car for service every 5000 km in order to detect potential issues before they become dangerous to us, so do the rituals and traditions around season changes.

It is of course therefore logical to do our emotional and digestive detoxes around those times as well. 

The Vedic practitioners knew this instinctively and had specific rituals around seasonal changes of the year. Around these rituals, just like around ALL the rituals they had (daily, weekly and so on), they started with a prayer, a Sankalpa.

Kalpa means formation in Sanskrit and Sankalpa therefore implements the sense of I as in “I am forming” or “I am visualising with an intention”.

Now, you might have heard the expression “Where your attention goes, your energy flows”.

Actually, intention is a conscious directing of your Prana, your energy. Therefore, an intention is there to consciously direction our attention to what we wish to focus on in order to create the best possible outcome, or future.

What is anxiety? It is the non controlled direction of your attention. 

In Ayurveda, that is what high VATA is : your imagination used in a destructive manner.

Or “how could things go wrong?” Anxiety is foreseeing yourself suffering in the future. 

Now, we have to understand that this happens quite naturally with our energy if we don’t choose what to focus on because of survival instinct. 

All our past experiences have left traces in our bodies and minds. These traces, we call them Samskaras in Ayurveda and that can translate into “past impressions”. We can directly relate this to what I started out with : the patterns of recognition constantly sought by our brain. Doing things with intention means that we deliberately chose which patterns to revive / which Samskaras to be active in a moment (a ritual).

The reason we love to rewatch certain movies for instance, or read the same book again and again is due to these past impressions. They left traces on us that made us feel a certain way. It’s not the book or movie we are seeking, it’s the way we felt when we read and watched them. 

All our addictions are exactly this, the seeking of a state we were in the first time we experienced them. If we seek it, it’s because the memory of it is active inside of us. 

Therefore, to create an environment both inside and outside of our skin of safety so that our VATA is stable even when movement is very active in the atmosphere (and so within us too), Ayurveda gave us the suggestion of a certain amount of practices, procedures or rituals. They were to be repeated so that every time we do them, our brain recognises the pattern. These rituals were not made by hazard but instead aligned with how nature functions in that moment in time (seasonal).

Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞



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