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Cellular Agni (Fire) & Emotional Health

by Sheyna Haisman-Holmes

The fundamentals of Ayurveda consider and address cellular nutrition and the connections between overall health and emotional wellbeing. Having agni (digestive fire) strong and functioning is the most important key to nutrition, cellular health and detoxification. There are all types of agni throughout our tissue layers and deepest cellular spaces. Pīlu pāka is the fire within a cell membrane and Pithara pāka is agni inside the cell nucleus. These agni’s are important for nutrition and especially important for emotional wellbeing and maintenance. They are responsible for nutrient uptake as well as the eradication of stuck emotions that may be manifesting on a physical or mental level.

Pīlu pāka is the fire within a cell membrane and its job is to select molecules to transform into the cytoplasm (gelatinous liquid inside a cell). This agni supports the building blocks of the body at a cellular level through the choosing of elements and nutrients. The intelligence of the body selects what it needs to build and develop the cells through proper nourishment.

Pithara pāka is agni inside the cell nucleus that works to digest emotions into consciousness. The way to kindle the fire and digest these emotions is through non-reactive awareness. If this agni is low, unprocessed/undigested emotions can clog up the connective tissues which also happen to be the seat of the subconscious mind. This means that everything we put into our emotional storehouse can be lodged in our ligaments, tendons, skin, vocal chords, arteries, cartilage, bone tissue, adipose tissue, lymph fluid, bronchial tubes and blood. These stored emotions may lead to brain fog, confusion, lethargy, anger, arthritis, cracking joints, pain, etc. The inability to assimilate emotions puts stress on the body and burns ojas (vitality), therefore compromising the immune system. We want pithara agni to be strong to support us in changing, growing and healing.

Pithara also feels the effects of the types of food we eat (sattvic, rajasic, tamasic) and becomes part of our experience. For example, if we eat something rajasic like chili peppers, we may feel bodily heat and mental stimulation. Eating hard to digest foods may cause mental dullness, while eating pure sattvic foods may bring more equanimity. Pīlu nourishes the cells while pithara nourishes consciousness. These two go hand in hand because they are the communication within and around each cell.

We can make sure that pithara agni is functioning through the practice of non-reactive awareness and meditation. By looking at our emotions and feelings that arise without judgment, we are allowing the feelings to be felt. We aren’t judging ourselves or our experience, just observing it all. Every thought, feeling and emotion can be information that contributes to our learning and spiritual growth in this life. With this compassionate observation, we allow the feelings to be seen and pass away with flow. It can be hard to release emotions when there are big stories around them, so have compassion for yourself and lean into a deeper and deeper letting go of what no longer serves you.

So how can we become conscious of stuck emotions and feelings in our bodies and release them?

~We can ask ourselves “Do I let myself feel and process my emotions and feelings”? Life is so complex and it’s not always possible in each moment to resolve everything that we experience and feel. So, we can make space to feel them. This could be taking a solo walk and reflecting, meditating in stillness, or journaling about events that need processing.

~Receive an Abhyanga massage or do self-abhyanga to be in touch with all parts of the body and provide them nourishment and love. Working oil into these joint areas and all of the skin is increasing bodily awareness and allowing the unwinding of held tensions.

~Receive craniosacral treatments, marma point therapy, acupuncture, acupressure and work with medicinal herbs to access the many places of the subconscious mind.

~Crying. Within the connective tissues are the crystals of emotions, which are the crystals of the subconscious mind. A great way to purge and release these crystals is through crying. Genetic memories are held in these cellular spaces, so we are capable of liberating so much more when we allow this release.

~Positive thinking, affirmations, mantras, pranayama, intention/prayer, singing and song medicine.

~Healthy outlet for anger- throwing rocks into the ocean, crying, letting your voice out on a mountain top and using a punching bag or pillow as an outlet for force.

If pithara agni is weak and can’t deal with the emotions, it will send a message to pīlu that will then not choose certain molecules to transform. The subconscious emotions keep getting thrown back into the tissues instead of being released. If we want pīlu to choose these molecules of emotions and pithara to transform them into consciousness, we have to choose to be with our feelings and emotions without suppression.

May we all have the courage and strength to feel all of our emotions and allow them to flow through us with an intention for grace, peace and love at the center :)


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