From the Vedic traditions, the ancient mystics, seers and rishis discovered that there are 3 gunas (qualities or zones) of being that are constantly playing in our life.
The first is Tamas which is the state of fewer–thoughts-fewer-actions, i.e. the state of dullness or inertness. The second state is more-thoughts-more-actions, the state of restlessness or hyperactivity which is called Rajas. The final guna is the fewer-thoughts-more-actions i.e. the state of inner balance, restful awareness and a feeling of being “alive” which is called Sattva.
In an ideal flow of day of a typical human being, we should experience Sattva in the morning, Rajas in the afternoon and Tamas in the evening before we rest our body-mind into deep sleep. However, if you look at our modern civilization in the digital age, you see a disturbing picture because the state of Sattva is very lacking in our city life.
- The speed of technology innovation has created a 24/7 wired network where one can be entertained continuously. One has to really have self discipline to unplug from the tapestry of a wired digital world which is filled with fantasies. More children and teenagers are getting addicted to computer devices in gaming or in frivolous chat rooms. They are on computers most of the time till late night or sometimes early morning when they should be sleeping to allow body to repair. The internal clock is all messed up but the working parents are not even aware of the problem. We see children fall into inertia and they demand instant gratification. If not, they can become irritable and violent easily.
- Continuous improper diet of fast food and processed food which are high in sugar, Trans fat, preservatives, additives and high doses of caffeine in coffee joints or carbonated soft drinks caused the human body to be swung like yo-yo between Tamas or Rajas.
- Our thinking-based civilization and education system encourages us to continuously engage in thoughts, worries or comparison. This creates a restless mental pattern which may lead to mental disorders like anxiety, ADHD (Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder), sleep disorder, depression and anger problem. This makes us prone to unconscious actions when there is no space for inner balance.
- With a sedentary lifestyle, we create more Tamas in our body and we become habituated to a pattern of laziness. No wonder we are seeing more chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, strokes and mental diseases like bipolar disorder and depression in this century.
Our lifestyle has evolved so much since the ancestral generation that we hardly experience the Sattva zone. We have more stress, distractions from all kinds of entertainment from different media, impure food as well as environmental pollutions and Western medicine that is not addressing the root of the problems. The amount of time we experience Sattva state has really suffered unless we make a conscious effort to bring about an outer and inner balance.
From the yogic psychology, we have all the answers to our problems in life. We just have to trust the inner wisdom and make time to be in stillness and be patient. But when the senses are too engaged in sense pleasures in the outer world, it takes us away from our center to be in stillness and for contemplation.
Here are 7 steps you can do to create space for Sattva in your life:-
- Be discriminative in terms of the kind of Ahara (food) you give to your 5 senses (and your children) i.e. the content you see, eat, hear, smell and touch are all food to your senses. See if they aid in a holistic way of living.
- Food intake has a major impact on our state of being. Consume only Sattvic food i.e. pure wholesome fresh vegetarian food that will not create disturbances but instead, it nourishes the consciousness and gives the body lightness, alertness, energy. (see my other article on “Being Vegetarian is a Conscious Choice”)
- Become aware of your breathing, your prana (Qi) flow and the belly movements as much as possible through out the day
- Spend at least an hour per day with yourself doing Hatha Yoga, meditation or just sitting to witness your inner chatters
- Get inspiration from ancient sacred scriptures about the higher purpose of life beyond the societal definitions
- Find out your life purpose or mission so that you can be fulfilled
- Give and share your treasure (money), talent and time by volunteering on a cause you are deeply passionate about
As you spend more time in the state of Sattva, you experience health, well-being and many discoveries about your Self. Eventually, the ultimate state in yoga is to go beyond these 3 gunas so that we are completely liberated from them.