Agni – The Power to Transform
By Dr. Julie Elledge, Ph.D.
A roaring campfire, surrounded by a beloved group of friends and family absorbed into good story erupts emotions of warmth, enrapture and belonging. Here, Dr Suhas Kshirsagar describes the personification of the god Agni Deva in the Vedic tradition. In this post the author pulls the strands of storytelling through the digestion of food and emotions. She further expands the metaphor to include nourishing the body and the soul.
Through this storytelling, coaches are able to introduce many concepts related to lifestyle without confronting clients. Instead, clients are able to enter into an ancient myth of the God Agni and unpack the story through their own beliefs and values in a way that is sensitive to clients’ identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs.
To really develop this skill, I partner with Kwame Scruggs in the truly remarkable series The Magic of Myth in Coaching. In the advanced course, Storytelling Methods, coaches find the myth that best fits their clients and develop their method to use myth in this enchanting and unique technique with clients.
Note the powerful use of symbolism in this course. At Mentor Agility we introduce the discuss of symbolism and its relationship to the landscape in Nature Immersion and Story Quest Walks.
Master storyteller, mythologist and depth psychologist John Bucher really brings home symbolism in the landscape in his course Ecosystems of the Mind. His portrayal of a healthy lifestyle cracks open the outdated idea of work life balance and provides a far more productive metaphor that matches the needs of clients today. Coaches further develop their storytelling abilities in Storytelling for Coaches.
Dr Suhas Ksirsagar presents another example of imparting wisdom about healthy living through the mythology god of Agni.
Agni – the power to transform
By Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, Ayur Varno Balam Swasthya, Utsaho Upachayo Prabha/ Ojas Tejascha Agnayaha, Pranaschokata Dehagni hetuka// Charak Samhita
Your Lifespan, Complexion, Health, Strength, Energy, Corpulence and Radiance depend upon a strong Agni. The quality of Ojas, Tejas, Digestive Fire, Cellular fires and the very essence of Prana depend upon a good Agni.
The ancient science of Ayurveda describes digestion as a sacred fire. Personified in by the Vedic tradition as the god Agni Deva, the digestive fire in the belly consumes our food and transmutes it into the elements of the body, mind and spirit.
Agni is often referred as the power to cook, bake, digest and transform food into body tissues but it is also responsible for our ability to digest and metabolize various experiences. Everything that we experience thru the gateways of perception needs the strength of a good Agni to regulate the cascade of biochemical molecules. The role of Agni is far greater than just the mere digestive function.
When we feel hungry, this is a sign that the digestive fire is blazing strong. When our hunger flags, and the fire weakens, then our digestion suffers. Hence, food is not properly assimilated and toxins accumulate in the body. According to Ayurveda, the condition of the digestive fire determines the health of our entire being.
A healthy digestive system is revered in Ayurveda as a cornerstone of wellbeing, and every disease is believed to arise from inefficient digestion. In fact, we can even distill the science of Ayurveda down to the simple idea that total health resides in the state of our digestive powers, and that restoring health must originate with a focus on our digestive system. Your digestive fire simply refers to your body’s metabolism—the process of turning nutrients from food into energy for cells to sustain life, which of course is commandeered by your digestion, a complex combination of biological and chemical interactions.
How do we make sure that Agni, this sacred fire, stays strong and healthy? First, we supply the right amount of fuel. If we overload our stomach by overeating, or if we drown it by drinking too much at meals, then the digestive fire goes out and it takes a long time to recover.
Keeping in mind that hunger is the sign of a healthy digestive fire, rather than constantly snacking, we can wait to eat until the level of hunger is high, but not too high. We can wait until mealtimes, and only then make our offering to the flames.
In India, as in many traditional cultures, meals are a time of sacred offering. Prior to eating, the food is offered to the divine power with humility, reverence and gratitude. The food itself is considered sacred and is prepared, handled and served as a precious gift. Many traditional cultures attach rituals to the act of eating to acknowledge its divine nature. This religious practice nourishes the soul as well as the body and mind.
When the digestive fire is weak it has an overall impact on the quality of ones life and your ability to manifest intentions.
The complaints we hear daily are constant: low energy, body weight chaos, digestive disorders, poor sleep, headaches, congestion, low libido, low-grade depression, anxiety, burn-out, and signs of ongoing inflammation such as sore joints or relentless allergies. The irony in all this is that many of these people are indeed active—they lead healthy lifestyles and yet fail to experience optimal health. Well, the reason is that these myriad conditions actually have a surprising common denominator: a weak digestive “fire.” If you don’t keep your digestive fires burning cleanly, you cannot lose weight permanently or achieve the vibrant health you’ve always dreamed of.
In many parts of the Western culture, however, this reverence for food and eating has faded, or been lost entirely. Grace may still be said at the dinner table, but for the most part, food is eaten with very little thought of where it came from and an absence of sensitivity to the condition of the digestive fire. Who among us takes a moment of reverential silence before biting into food when we are dashboard dining? And, with oversized portions being the norm, how often do we force ourselves to finish every bite, regardless of feeling unwell afterwards?
The consequences of eating in this unconscious fashion, year after year, are devastating, and explain, in part, why so many people suffer so much from obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and other life-threatening conditions. These are all diet-related problems that we can prevent.
Simply stated, when our digestive fire is strong, we thrive. When it is weak, we suffer.
- The next time you sit down to eat, take a few seconds to become aware of your digestive fire. Assess the level of hunger. Can you feel your digestive fire blazing? Can you sense that the digestive fire is ready to accept your offering of food?
- Look at the food you are offering. Is it pleasing? Is it also wholesome? Will it leave you feeling satisfied, light and energetic?
- Are you in a quiet and reverential state of mind, undistracted, focused on the amazing, alchemical act of nourishing yourself?
- Sip some warm water with your meal
- Pause for a moment to center your self in this awareness. Take a deep breath and enjoy because the wisdom lies in eating less and eating right.
About the Author
Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar is an internationally recognized leader in the ancient science of Ayurvedic Medicine, which emphasizes a comprehensive, whole-body approach to
health. He is an acclaimed motivational speaker, experienced Clinician, researcher & an insightful Medical Astrologer, who adds tremendous value to his clients and students alike. He is Chopra Center University’s Advisory Board Member, Chopra Center Master Educator, and the Director of Ayurvedic Healing, an Integrative Wellness Clinic in Santa Cruz, California.