Need a mental tune up before you meditate? You can invite nature's subtle intelligence into your meditation practice with some of Ayurveda's mind enhancing herbs. You may find that using these herbs will help you overcome anxiety, lethargy and chatter that can surface in the mind during meditation. As you consider the short list below, choose the herb that offers you the benefits with the strongest appeal, and experiment with taking it daily. Later, you can try a combination herbal formula as herbs often have a synergistic effect when taken in concert. Yogis used herbs to help prepare their minds for meditation for ages. Now you can too!
The Brain Tonic
The Sanskrit name brahmi is loosely translated in The Yoga of Herbs as that which "gives knowledge of Brahman, or Supreme Reality." This herb promotes mental calm and clarity while improving memory and concentration. According to Frawley and Lad, "Brahmi helps awaken the crown charka and balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain." Add ½ teaspoon of Brahmi powder to a cup of hot water, then add honey to taste, and drink just before your meditation practice.
The Mental Soother
For an anxious, agitated mind, Jatamamsi can soothe your nerves. This Himalayan native herb has similar calming properties to its relative valerian, but without the dulling effects. It's also a powerful brain tonic and memory booster. Boil 1 teaspoon of Jatamamsi in 1+ cup of milk for five minutes and drink in the morning.
The Devotion Potion
The Sanskrit name for Hibiscus, Japa, literally means "mantra repetition." Frawley and Lad write that the delicate flowers of this plant "strengthen devotion in Japa, help make mantras fruitful, and enhance attention in meditation." Set ¼ ounce of the flowers in 1 pint of cool water, and drink a cup of this refreshing summer tea to encourage devotion to your spiritual practice.
The Mind Rejuvenator
According to Frawley and Lad, Shankha Pushpi enhances overall intelligence and creativity by increasing circulation to the brain. The ancient treatise on Ayurveda, the Charaka Samhita reports that the herb promotes learning, memory and recall, making it a favourable meditation aid. Prepare an infusion by mixing ½ teaspoon of the powdered herb in a cup of hot water.
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