This sweet nectar of immortality is carried by the cerebral spinal fluid, and, in Ayurvedic philosophy, can help you keep a clear head and disease-free body. Consider this your guide to all things Soma.
The Quest for Eternal Life
The quest for eternal life has fascinated humans from the dawn of our history and continues today with emerging longevity drugs called senolytics, pills that target and inactivate cells associated with aging
Ancient Sumerian and Vedic texts, as well as the Bible and Koran, all promise eternal life.2-4
According to Vedic philosophy, a substance called soma is considered the nectar of immortality. Soma is produced through deep meditative and yogic practices and provides a deep physical rejuvenation, access to higher states of consciousness, and levels of immortality. While living in this body forever may be appealing, absolute immortality or eternal life typically refers to the soul—the part of us that lives on through reincarnation. To gain an awareness of our immortal soul, both the mind and body must surrender their fascination with worldly attachments and become aligned with consciousness–the undying quantum field of creative intelligence, or a concept of God that connects us all. According to yoga and Ayurveda, the journey toward immortality starts with soma.5
Dedicated yogic and religious practices are said to produce soma in the brain that opens the gates to a spiritual life. And around the world, spiritual soma plants are revered and used for healing and realizing the larger truth of our existence—that we are much more than a body and mind, and instead we are part of the soul’s spiritual journey.
This article is about how we can begin this journey.
Soma: The Energy of the Moon
During my Ayurvedic training while living in India, there was always talk about the revered soma plant—one that would give enlightenment and eternal life.
On a handful of occasions, I attended soma plant ceremonies, in which we would boil the leaves of a soma plant and drink the resulting soma-infused milk! Soma is said to be of the moon–a lunar essence. The soma leaves we drank were harvested on north facing slopes in the Himalayas during a full moon, when the leaves unfold or blossom. It was all quite mystical and the anticipation of drinking something so sacred was thrilling to say the least.
New research suggest that we are more affected by the moon cycles than we think. In birds, the natural flow of cortisol during the day and melatonin at night completely disappears during the full moon. In fish, the moon regulates reproductive cycles. And in insects, similar reproductive hormones are tied to the cycles of the moon. In humans, the cycles of the moon regulate reproduction, menstruation, fertility, and birth rate, as well as correlate to crime, accident, and hospital visit rates.6
Make Your Own Soma
Through the practices of yoga, breathing, and meditation, you can create soma. In Ayurveda, this substance is produced in the brain through an aspect of kapha called tarpaka.
The word tarpaka means to refresh, satiate, satisfy, and record. It is the cerebral spinal fluid that washes and nourishes the brain with nutrients and empties its waste into the brains glymphatic system. In, fact, three pounds of toxic material is dumped out of the brains gymphatic (tarpaka) system each year during sleep.7 Researchers have now linked congestion in the brain’s lymphatic system to a host of health concerns, including anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, infection, inflammation, and autoimmunity.9 Tarpaka also records emotions, traumas, and impression in the white matter of your brain. Such recordings often lock us into old unwanted and repetitive behaviors. Restoring the function of tarpaka, particularly with specific pranayama techniques, is key to our emotional freedom.8
According to Vedic scholar Dr. David Frawley, an original founder of the American Institute of Vedic Studies, while many forms of soma exist in nature, the real soma is considered the version secreted in the brain by tarpaka kapha.5
Production of soma in your brain depends on optimal the function of your brain’ glymphatic system, or tarpaka kapha, Balanced tarpaka supplies us with contentment, peace, happiness, calm, composure, forgiveness, and devotion, while compromised tarpaka leads to numerous mental and emotional health concerns.5,9
Studies have linked yoga and pranayama to increased flow of the brain’s cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), and, according to Ayurveda, optimal function of tarpaka kapha.10 Think of the CSF as a brain washing fluid that also delivers nutrients, pleasure, calm, and soma to the brain. Nose breathing in particular has been shown to help open the airways and increase CSF and brain lymphatic circulation.
Compromised function of brain lymphatics starts early in child development. Children who do not sleep with their mouths closed develop sleep, breathing, developmental, cognitive, and metabolic issues. When mouth-breathing during sleep, the tongue falls to the bottom of the mouth. With nose breathing the tongue is forced to the roof of the mouth or palate. Steady pressure of the tongue pushing up on the palate widens the palate, face, and jaw, opens airways, increases brain lymphatic function (tarpaka and soma production), and supports cognitive and developmental function.11
We RecommendIs Your Face Too Small for Wisdom Teeth? Non-Invasive Therapies for Snoring, Migraines, TMJ + More
Kechari Mudra: The Soft Palate and Soma
If you slide your tongue back behind your hard palate, you can feel the spongy soft palate. Just above the soft palate is an area of spiritual significance. It is where all the five senses meet just below the anterior pituitary gland and where your consciousness is seated and the sweet nectar of soma is stored, according to Vedic philosophy. Yogis practice meditation and pranayama with the tongue curled back to touch the hard palate and gain spiritual prowess. This technique, called Kechari Mudra, is taken further by reaching the tongue into the soft palate. With years of practice, practitioners can move their tongues further back and up, behind the uvula, or fleshy extension, above the throat. This practice uses the tongue to reach back and taste soma.5 This is classically performed during ujjayi pranayama (the psychic breath) and promises heightened self-awareness.
In my new 7-week online course with the Shift Network, I’ll share Ayurveda’s approach to shifting physical and emotional patterns that can lead to weak digestion, shallow breathing, poor sleep, chronic pain, and degenerative disease—all obstacles to graceful aging and longevity. The course starts February 9. Sign up today.