Ojas. I often feel like I should whisper this word, it is such an important and sacred concept in Ayurveda, spanning our physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. Yet, it is Ojas which gives us the vitality to shout our joy and strength out loud! It is our genes as well as our lifestyle that determines the quality and strength of our Ojas, and Ojas feeds and governs physical and mental functioning. In modern medical terms Ojas can be related to natural or innate immunity; our strength and resistance to illness and infection. The quality and strength of our Ojas is also dependent upon stress, traumas, and the quality of our relationships...a good relationship tonifies Ojas.

This brings us around to the heart: the heart is responsible for circulating Ojas, which is the pure essence of all the bodily tissues. Unblocked circulation of Ojas is dependent upon an open heart, a loving heart, a heart that says, "yes" and is present with each moment be it pleasure or pain, excitement or dullness. Yet, Ojas is not a mere poetic concept. It is a real, superfine, biological substance. Raw Ojas is the initial production by the 7 bodily tissues and keeps things moving and functioning. Refined Ojas is said to compose 8 drops of a yellowish-white nectar that is rich in Soma and delivers a blissful state of consciousness. Soma is released in Samahdi, is comparative to serotonin, and may be initiated in the pineal gland. Thus, an open heart, meditative bliss (even for an instant), and all practices contributing to these, enhance soma and improve the quality of our Ojas.

All efforts build stress. Yes, it is true. Stress diminishes our Ojas. Meditation should not be done with effort. Instead, it counteracts the efforts of our days. Just sit quietly, and float. When the mind becomes quiet, refined Ojas becomes active and opens the door to God-consciousness, nonjudgmental awareness. Realize your true nature of peace and love, and refined Ojas will support that state in every cell of your body. Ojas and soma are always there for us to access, but we do not always make it possible for them to flow through us. Each effort denies peace, thus denying God access.

That said, we all struggle with the effort of meditation: the effort to maintain the practice, to find the time, to settle the body, to settle the mind, and those times when we just cannot find the quiet, the peace, the floating. It is even harder if we are depleted Depletion of the Ojas occurs in excessive fasting, consumption of too many bitter herbs or excessively hot and spicy foods, food of only one taste or flavor, all pharmaceutical and recreational drugs, alcohol and smoking, overexposure and overwork, over-exercising and excessive ejaculation, as well as depression, sadness, irritability, anger, stress, anxiety, and poor or insufficient sleep.

Rebuild your Ojas. Start with foods. Take the opportunity to nourish your body as well to promote the healthy tissues to produce their Ojas. Ojas contains the qualities of all sweet substances, like a nectar or a wonderful pudding. As such, it is fed by the consumption of like substances--but only as wholesome healthy foods. Jel-lo banana pudding, sadly, does not really nourish Ojas. Well, maybe the first spoonful does...Anyway, consuming ghee, extra virgin oils, milks of all kinds, almonds above all other nuts, pure honey, and foods made with these ingredients and a lot of love will enhance the production of high quality Ojas, especially in those who are depleted. The

Ayurvedic herbs Amla, Aloe, Shatavari, and Ashwagandha all help restore and tonify Ojas.

Do you know what else enhances Ojas? Love, contentment, and calm. The home of Ojas is in your heart. It is the seat of your life force (prana) and digestive fire (Agni). Now you may understand why I want to sacredly whisper the name...Ojas.

Ramy Mam