What is Majja?
In Ayurveda, our nervous system and connective tissue have a special connection. They are both considered components of Majja, one of the seven essential tissues for life, the dhatus. What is Majja? It is our ability to communicate with all of our senses through the nervous system. It is the capacity to store energy within the bone, in the bone marrow. This communicative ability also manifests as the strength and resiliency of our connective tissue, the fascia. The fascia is a three dimensional web of multiple layers of loosely woven connective tissue that enfolds us from head to toe, surrounding and integrating all the structures of the body.
Skilled body workers talk about the importance of one layer of fascia being able to “slide” past another. When we’ve had an injury, often two or more layers of fascia can get “stuck” together. Once the acute injury has healed, an adept body worker, such as a deep tissue massage therapist or Rolfer, can gently get the layers moving freely once again. The purpose is to restore healthy movement and flow within the whole body, by freeing up the layers of fascia surrounding the muscles, organs, and glands. This is one way to support Majja. (MAH-JAH)
Experience can get sticky, too
We’re meant to be able to have our thoughts and feelings and experiences flow freely, too. There are so many sensations, pieces of information and input coming to us, especially in these times. The vast majority of these are processed through our nervous system. On this level, too, Majja can get “stuck”. What I observe is that sometimes two levels of experience get “stuck” to one another, just the way connective tissue can. What does this look like?
A fictitious example: A large environmental crisis explodes in some place far away from Jules. Depending on J’s resources and connections, J. may respond in different ways. On this particular day Jules goes on with life, yet when given the opportunity to act positively at work, J. turns it down. Later J. realizes that the thought, “I can’t do anything about (this environmental crisis)” got translated into “I can’t do anything about much of anything.”
Life can be intense and events around us are sometimes larger than what it appears we can impact as individuals. Many responses are possible. Some people engage in the large events, no matter how big. Others may withdraw; it’s more than their individual nervous systems, Majja, can handle in the moment.
Others of us continue to interact. Yet the impact of the larger events may “snag” on to our ability to lead our daily lives in a coherent way. The thought, “I can’t do anything about this” may be true on one level yet not at all true on another level. This confusion or snag can impede our free flow of energy. This includes what we can constructively do in our lives, work, relationships, and community. We may become immobilized by a disempowered thought and let it cling to levels of experience that have nothing to do with it, areas of life that could be moving freely.
How to support Majja nervous system
Majja is supported by fresh air, nature, healthy foods and drinks, a steady sustainable rhythm in life, whatever that means to you. It does better with non-violent conditions, enough sleep and a healthy amount of creative input. Pratyahara, the yogic process of closing one’s senses to outer distractions, helps Majja.
Stressful conditions can be processed by Majja, yet it needs time and space. We can respond to our lives in healthy ways, within what we can handle. To expect yourself to be able to take in the average amount of stimulation available in 21stcentury life may not always be realistic.
3 Tips to Support Majja, Nervous System and Fascia:
- Take (ideally non-electronic) breaks when your nervous system needs it. Trust your need for normal biological experiences, like eating, sleeping, walking, resting.
- Ask yourself, “What can I do for myself and others?” in whatever immediate situation you find yourself. Do what you can; don’t do what you can’t.
- When clarity and energy return, feel free to act on positive plans.
Majja and Transcultural Nursing
Dr. Joanna Basuray Maxwell is a leader in the TransCultural Nursing Society; she is a nursing professor on the East coast by profession and East Indian by birth. She and I wrote a chapter together on Ayurveda for the new Fourththedition of Leininger’s Transcultural Nursing text; in the process we became friends.
Joanna told me a story today that made me smile. She and her students offer free health screenings to members of refugee communities in their area. Mrs. Jenkins is a community networker living in their city who runs a center; she is in her eighties. She has willingly offered her space for health screenings at a time and place where refugees often do not feel as welcome as she makes them feel. Her way of working with Majja has been to relax and open and do what she can where she is. Today Joanna is honoring and celebrating Mrs. Jenkins’ life and work at the Transcultural Nursing conference in San Antonio, Texas. I rejoice in everyone working with Mrs. Jenkins.
Mrs. Jenkins may not be familiar with the term “Majja” yet she is well-versed in how to work with it. From what Joanna has said about Mrs. Jenkins, she works with her own nervous system and resources in ways that bring joy and relief to herself and others. Her wisdom manifests in how she lives, who she is.
Nourishing drinks for the nervous system and fascia can be found at http://www.EasyHealingDrinks.com.
Amadea Morningstar, MA, RPE, RYT is expert in Ayurvedic health care. She meets you where you are, and is available with respect, bringing over 40 professional years of experience, academic training and hands-on knowledge to her sessions and books. Sessions with Amadea include Western nutrition, Ayurvedic nutrition and herbalism, Polarity Therapy, Marma therapy, Integral yoga, and nature-based approaches. She and Renee Lynn co-created the Easy Healing Drinks series. Join us in Corrales, NM this December 1st, 2 – 4 pm for nourishing drinks, Ayurveda and Yoga info and good company. Our hosts for this event: Wake Me Up Yoga and Saumya Ayurveda
Autumn in the Midwest photo thanks to Iza Bruen-Morningstar