It’s that time of year again – the weather is getting colder, we are spending more time indoors and….getting sick. Reducing our exposure to germs may range from being difficult to impossible, unless we would want to isolate ourselves for quite a while. (See you all at the end of cold season!) So what can we do if we don’t want to live like a hermit, besides obvious hygiene practices like hand-washing? We can strengthen our immune systems.
Ayurveda looks at building the immune system in terms of something called Ojas. We can understand Ojas as the final product of perfect digestion that gives our bodies strength and immunity. It protected when we orient to the present moment with fewer demands and more detachment. Conversely, it can be diminished when we try too hard, stress ourselves out and live from a selfish orientation.
So, to amp up our immune systems, we need to reduce stress and live from a less selfish orientation. This brings me to my favorite way to bolster your immune system: LOVING OTHERS…SELFLESSLY.
We can feel better by not focusing on solely on ourselves.
Obviously, it is necessary to express love towards ourselves and to take care of ourselves, but perhaps we can do so knowing that this care is ultimately is service to something larger than ourselves. Then, even our self-care can become selfless. But let’s get back to loving others.
What do I mean by selflessly loving others? This is loving without being attached to receiving any sort of acknowledgement or return favor from the receiver of our sweet expression. For example, if I say “good morning” to someone and then feel disappointed that they don’t say “good morning” back”, this is not selfless. My expectation of a return greeting was ultimately selfish because, even though I gave something, the focus then shifted back to myself and what I thought that I “should” receive. Since selfishness decreases Ojas and immunity, why not release the expectations, feel more expansive, and have better immunity to boot? An expression of love is even more potent with no expectation.
So, in conclusion, LOVING WITHOUT EXPECTATION MAKES US FEEL BETTER. Both in that moment as we release expectations and later on as we reap the immune system benefits.
Ready, set, LOVE!
To read more on Ojas:
Not that into Ayurveda (yet)? Check out this write-up of an Arizona State University study in which it was found that communicating positive feelings through words or actions can lower stress hormones, blood pressure, and strengthen your immune system. Are you convinced now?