10 Pairs of Opposites: Wet & Dry
This is a 10-part series where I will be reviewing each of the 10 pairs of Opposites (AKA qualities or Gunas) in depth.
Everything in this Universe (man made and natural, physical and abstract) are based off the five elements; Ether (Space), Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. From these five elements, the Rishis (or Ayurvedic Seers) determined that there were 10 pairs of Opposites that are used to view the Universe and restore balance. Through observation, palpation, and questioning an Ayurvedist will see where you have excess or depleted gunas, and work to restore them to their proper ratio.
These gunas impact everything!!
Wet (Snigdha) and Dry (Rūksha)
Wet and Dry live next to each other all the time in our lives. Getting out of the bath, and drying off. Soaking up some soup with our bread. Remember all of these opposites are a spectrum, so this doesn’t mean it has to be sandpaper dry and sopping wet; it can just be moist cake or a dry wine. (Can you tell I am a Kapha who loves her desserts).
Physiological / Body – Wet & Dry
Wet in the body is always needed in some areas – blood absolutely should be wet, same goes for spinal fluid, gastric juices, and reproductive fluids. (It’s not fun if it is dry, am I right ladies!?)
But wet in other areas, or too much wet is not healthy or helpful to the body. If you have too much moisture in the GI tract, you will have some diarrhea problems. Too much juicy under the skin may lead to water weight and edema.
The same can be said for dryness. In some areas we need some dry or drier areas. There is also “too much” dry and that can result in dry skin, constipation, or frail bones.
Note that I talked about too wet can lead to diarrhea and too dry can lead to constipation. Ayurveda says “all things in moderation” is the way to go. We need some moisture in the GI Tract in order for fecal matter to keep moving and get out. But we also need it dry enough so that the good parts of the food can be absorbed into the body. If it is too wet in the track, that moisture ends up being a barrier to absorption. We need good blends of all the thing.
Psychological / Mind – Dry & Wet
I bet you are thinking, OK I can see how wet and dry could impact my body. But this abstract area like my mind…. Umm…
Ever been stuck on “over thinking mode”? Where you just thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking. That much repetition can dry an area out, and dried areas can lead to friction bringing in other qualities like heat.
Our brain is a pretty squishy moist organ. When something isn’t being used and is wet, it can just get soggy and sluggish. By having active (but not too active) thoughts, we can make sure the brain gets its work out and doesn’t become bogged down.
Emotional / Spiritual – Wet & Dry
Dry emotion can mean someone who never cries. Ayurveda talks about allowing natural urges to happen. It doesn’t matter if our society says being a macho man or a career woman tends to think crying is weak. By blocking up that ability to cry, you are drying up other emotions as well. This dryness in the emotional realm can cause lead to other major issues like the inability to empathize or relate to someone else.
Wet emotions on the other hand can be overly sensitive. The person who starts bawling because their pen runs out…. Maybe needs a little dryness to help gain perspective.
External Environment – Dry & Wet
Do you live in rainy Seattle or dry Arizona? Think about who you are internally, and remember that like causes like. If you are a naturally juice person, living in a wet environment might be too much for you as your juicy nature might become a bit of a tidal wave internally. Not all places are so extreme, here in the Midwest, we can have some fierce thunderstorms followed by a nice dry day.
Dryness can come in the form of heat or in the cold. In the cold winter days of Kansas, it’s the only time I get dry skin. In the office building I used to work at, they would always have the heat on high and it was so dry in there. It would cause me to have headaches and nose bleeds.
Ayurveda looks at using opposite qualities to reduce the excess. Please keep in mind that the human body is a complex system. Talk to an Ayurvedist before trying to balance things on your own.
Heightening awareness is always the first step in Ayurveda, and you can do that safely in your own home. How is your internal system dry and/or wet, are they healthy versions of these qualities or are they a bit more than the system should be handling? Think about your home or place of work/school, how might they be impacting you from a dry or wet perspective.