BY BONITA CAROL
Oooh, mud! The author’s 10-year-old daughter revels in a mud bath.
I spent nine glorious summers in the cool environs of Seattle, Washington. Mild summer temperatures were balanced by an abundance of lakes, pine trees, and mountain breezes. But when the charm of big city living began to wear off, raising my daughter in small-town Iowa started to sound appealing, even with its oppressively hot summers.
Hot weather makes most people cranky and uncomfortable. Here are some tips for staying cool that really work. By adopting just three or four of these cooling techniques each day, you’ll keep yourself and your family more relaxed, content, and comfortable.
Remember to look to your natural environment for inherent gifts that balance heat in your body. Make full use of shade trees, sunsets, flower gardens, mud, rain showers, watermelon, lakes, natural springs and ponds—all have properties that help cool the body.
Fragrant Summer Flowers
Nature provides us with beautiful flowers that help keep us cool. Roses, jasmine, and carnations are renowned to have a cooling affect.
Keep these fresh flowers in a vase on your bedside table. Sleeping in a room with fresh flowers creates sound sleep and reduces any irritability that may be caused from excess heat exposure.
- Take an early morning or evening walk in a flower garden.
- Keep rose water in a spray bottle in the refrigerator and mist yourself and your loved ones with the aroma and coolness of roses.
- Eat rose petal jam.
- Make a yogurt drink, such as lassi, with sugar, rose water, and a pinch of cardamom. Drink one or two glasses per day.
- Make a flower lei and wear it, or give one away for a gift. Gift-giving is balancing and healing for the mind, body, and environment.
The Big Muddy
Mud and clay baths are one of the most effective tools to cool the body. After a few minutes of applying the mud, you will feel amazingly refreshed, energetic, and happy! And yes, the small mess that it makes in the shower is worth the dramatic result.
Mud and clays from a pure source help to draw out excess heat and impurities from the body. Just look at what animals in the wild do—they roll around in the mud to keep cool and heal wounds. Some types of mud help heal itchy bug bites, poison ivy, and heat rashes.
Several sources of pure mud and clay are available, either as a dry powder or moist muds that are ready to use. If you don’t want to deal with the mess in your bathtub, schedule a mud bath at your local spa.
- In the shower: Massage several tablespoons of the mud or paste from head to toe for 5-10 minutes, then shower off with warm or cool water.
- In the bathtub: Take about 1/4 cup of mud and add it to a medium-temperature bath. Soak for about 20 minutes. Rinse off in the shower.
- For itchy bug bites: Add 1 teaspoon dried mud powder to aloe vera gel or water, make a thick paste, and apply to sore. Leave on and let dry for several hours. Place a bandage or cloth over area to protect clothing from the mud.
Summer Fruits and Vegetables
Eating the right foods can greatly reduce the discomfort of feeling too hot. For example, drinking fresh coconut juice is effective when it’s particularly hot out. Organic coconuts with the white husk intact are recommended. I use an electric screwdriver to make a whole, then use a straw to suck the milk out. Be sure to check that the coconut has not molded inside by dripping a little milk out—it should look clear and taste sweet.
Add three or four of these items to your daily diet, organically grown, if possible: watermelon, coconut, cucumbers, leafy greens, sweet juicy plums, ripe mangos, peaches, pineapple, pomegranate juice, loki squash, fresh cilantro, almonds, fresh aloe vera juice.
Try to avoid tomatoes, spicy food, fermented foods, and vinegar, all of which heat the body.
Mental fuzziness and physical fatigue are common symptoms of dehydration and low levels of electrolytes, especially in hot weather. Be sure to drink large amounts of pure water and juices to keep properly hydrated. Sports drinks and coconut and watermelon juice help to add additional electrolytes. Sweating and heat exposure can reduce electrolytes, so it is important to replace them daily.
Sweating is Good
Don’t be afraid to sweat: sweating is the natural way the body cools itself. In addition, the skin is considered to be the third kidney, and when we perspire we are ridding the body of unwanted toxins.
Sweating has a very desirable effect on our health and well-being, and we inhibit this natural bodily function by sitting in air-conditioned offices and houses all day and night. Scientific research shows that sweat contains unwanted nicotine, pesticides, and drugs.
- Avoid wearing chemical-based anti-perspirants, as they interfere with the body’s natural sweating process and congest the lymphatic system. Instead, find a natural deodorant to wear, if necessary.
- Instead of air conditioning, try ceiling fans once or twice a week. Keep windows closed to prevent hot air coming into the house. Open windows when it cools off early in the morning.
Massaging the body with coconut oil is very soothing and cooling. Leave a little coconut oil on the scalp during the day. Rubbing the feet with ghee before bed helps sound sleep and works like a charm to help a cranky child fall into a deep sleep.
Milk and ghee (clarified butter) balance excess heat in the body. Be sure to include them in your diet each day. Milk baths are also recommended. To feel cool and beautiful, fill your bathtub up with one gallon of whole organic milk, pure water, and some rose water, and relax for 20 minutes.
Access Your Inner Child
Buy a supply of squirt guns and carry them around with you. Your friends will appreciate a little cool water on them. Don’t forget to squirt yourself. Store some in the refrigerator for an instant cold-water effect. Walk in sprinklers, throw some water balloons, eat plenty of popsicles, walk in a summer rain shower. Take time to swim each day in a pool, pond, or splash around in a mud pile. Make frozen necklaces by filling balloons with a small amount of water, then tie them together with a string into a necklace. Keep several in the freezer for convenience.
And finally, this recipe is guaranteed to create bliss in the body and it is easy to prepare.
- 1/2 cup fresh peppermint leaves (no stems)
- 3 cups pure water
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar, or to taste
- 1/4 cup whole cream (optional)
Place mint leaves and water in a blender. Blend for one minute. Add sugar and yogurt and blend. Add cream and blend for 2- seconds. Skim foam off top or stir it in until smooth. Makes 5 cups.
Bonita Carol, an Ayurveda Health Educator since 1990, is currently an esthetician who offers seasonal spa treatments. You will often see her walking outside in summer rain showers, getting soaking wet. Email her at Bonita@lisco.com.